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Dealing with emotions in divorce

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Separating - and the legal process of doing so - is one thing, but the practicalities of divorce go hand-in-hand with an emotional transition. If proper attention isn’t paid to the emotional side of divorce it can lead to a significant impact personally and any family who might be impacted by the decision – particularly children. 

There is no doubt that a life changing decision like separation can be very traumatic. The process will require important decisions to be made at a time when stress and hurt-feelings can cloud judgement, resulting in choices that might later be regretted. A decision made in a moment of anger, in the spur of the moment can mean a significant long-term loss – financially, in relationships with others and in future life prospects. 

It is the job of family lawyers to provide sound advice and take you through the legal process, but to also understand and work with the inevitable emotional stress. Without this expertise, achieving a positive result is far less likely.

It is my belief that a good divorce lawyer should look to ways in which conflict can be avoided and ways agreement or compromise can be found. This will not only save a great deal of time and strain on emotions, but will likely end up saving a client a lot of money. Where there are conflicts and court cases, significant legal expenses are likely to follow.

It is therefore in the best interests of anyone going through a divorce to take stock of their position with a clear head and with a practical outcome in mind. While this is easier said than done, understanding the stresses and strains impacting you can help you deal with them quickly, make the correct decision and get the best from your solicitor and the divorce process.

The early stages of a divorce will bring significant anxiety, leading to disbelief, confusion, a feeling of helplessness, a sense of insecurity and – ultimately - loss of control. This is not a good time to be making decisions about your future and a good lawyer will recognise this.  You are unlikely to have to make urgent decisions about your future at this stage. It’s our job to give you clear information, emotional support and for you to get an understanding of the situation you are in.

Feelings of guilt are also common. Many clients will assume that they have done something wrong and start to blame themselves. Again, for anybody experiencing these feelings, it is not a good time to be making important decisions. 

At the other end of the spectrum, anger can be particularly destructive in the divorce process. You might have an overwhelming sense that you have been wronged – this is especially true where a relationship has broken down as a result of an affair. It is here that many people can make really bad decisions. Becoming unreasonable and wanting ‘revenge’ or ‘justice’ can distract from the real purpose of the divorce process – to get the best possible outcome for your future.

Some may be consumed by feelings of grief. It is to be expected that there will be a sense of loss, particularly if a separation has come ‘out of the blue’. This can be extremely painful and sometimes overwhelming. Some clients can struggle to see the future outside of their relationship or rush into a new relationship which can only complicate matters. Addressing these feelings can take time but the process is important to reaching a point where rational decisions can be made.

While these feelings can seem to be all-consuming, experience has shown that – in the vast majority of cases – they are only temporary and do pass as the divorce process unfolds. Reaching a feeling of calm will make planning for the future easier and allow you to think about life after the divorce. This will also lead acceptance that, while things will inevitably be different, it doesn’t necessarily mean a change for the worse.

An experienced family lawyer will be able to help you through the emotional journey divorce can bring as well as introducing you to professionals who can provide extra support, should you need it. From that point, the process of evaluating, planning and executing the best legal support for you is a much easier, more effective process.

By family and divorce solicitor, Mandy Rimmer