Divorce is a scary and overwhelming thing. Sometimes people know they are unhappy in their marriage, but have trouble deciding what to do about it. Should they stick with the “known”, or jump into the unknown territory of divorce? How does one go about making the divorce decision?
Susan, in what ways do people considering divorce often get stuck?
I think people become afraid about the divorce process on several levels. They don’t understand the legal system of divorce, they are overwhelmed by the financial issues involved, and sometimes they can’t imagine that they can actually have a better life. People can freeze up and be too afraid to take the next step – it’s the “deer in the headlights” syndrome.
How do you help them to get “unstuck”?
First, we talk about the five stages of grief which are denial, depression/sadness, anger, bargaining, and acceptance. I explain that for those going through a separation or divorce, there are two additional stages – solving the problems that were in that marriage that were yours, and recreating your life. We then determine which stage they are currently in and work on that stage to move past it.
I also try to bring resources to them that can help them get through the logistics of divorce. I might suggest they talk with a financial counselor to set up a post-divorce budget, or a mortgage broker to discuss options about their home. I help them analyze who their support system is, and perhaps options for recreating their social group such as Meetup.com or Match.com. In deciding what to do about their living situation, I share some ideas they may not have thought of, such as co-housing, living temporarily with relatives, or even hiring an architect to redesign the house so the family can still share the home comfortably until the time and/or finances are right for moving out. If children are involved, we talk about custody and parenting plans.
Once they start getting a handle on the logistics of separating, then we can work on the emotional parts they need to rebuild (such as self-esteem and confidence), and figuring out what issues need to be processed and integrated so they can move forward.
How do you collaborate with Divorce With Dignity to help people through divorce?
I have my clients call Divorce With Dignity as a homework assignment to get information and advice about divorce logistics and what’s required. The Divorce With Dignity folks do a great job of demystifying the divorce process. My clients may then choose to use me as a mediator to work out the emotional issues and make decisions, and then meet with the Divorce With Dignity professional to develop the divorce agreement and have the legal papers drawn up and filed with the court. Then they can come back to me to continue working on the emotional matters. It might be a “back and forth’ situation for awhile until it gets done, but even then it is still much less expensive than hiring lawyers to litigate the divorce.
Divorce With Dignity takes a holistic and supportive approach to divorce, providing our clients with referrals to professionals such as Susan, as needed. We strive to help our clients achieve divorce in the most peaceful way possible, and with the least amount of stress possible. And we do it for thousands of dollars less than a litigated divorce. Please visit dwdignity.com to learn more about our approach and how we can help you navigate the divorce maze.
The author of this blog is not an attorney and the information contained in these blogs should not be considered legal advice. The information provided here is based on the experience of the author and some of her clients whose actual names are not mentioned. Do not hesitate to seek the advice of an attorney if you have any legal questions.