Going through a divorce is much like working through the death of a loved one where you experience stages akin to the grieving process. Most people do not go from saying “Okay, I’m getting a divorce,” to filing paperwork and starting over without doing a lot of introspection.
Whether you are at the beginning, middle or end of your divorce, it can help to understand that what you may be feeling is completely normal. Knowing what to anticipate can also be helpful when it comes to managing your emotions.
“This isn’t happening.”
Those first few hours and days can be incredibly stressful. Some people may panic; others may simply feel “wooden,” as though the divorce is happening to someone else. Some spouses might overtly state that they want a divorce and mean it, blindsiding you to the demand. Other spouses might think threats of divorce can be used to prod a spouse into shaping up – until it backfires. Regardless of how you arrived in your current situation, pretending that it isn’t happening can have long-term repercussions, especially if you don’t seek out legal counsel and your spouse does.
“This is all my fault.”
Guilt is a common emotion in both parties. The spouse who seeks a divorce – especially if the desire isn’t mutual – can feel guilty for breaking up the marriage or the family. The person who has been served with divorce papers may take the burden entirely on him or herself, seeing only that he or she “failed.” Even the children can feel guilty, despite not playing any role in the decision.
“This is all your fault.”
Anger at being blindsided, at a marriage failing to work, at years of alleged or actual abuse, at oneself or one’s spouse – divorce makes many people angry. Blaming one another for things that went wrong and picking apart every detail of your marriage can cause anger to build up, especially when you’re in the middle of ending it and being unable to agree on what you each believe to be fair under the circumstances.
“This is the end of my life” and/or “I’ll be alone forever.”
Even a mutual decision to divorce between two amicable parties can leave people feeling adrift, uncertain, and alone. These feelings are normal, but they can also be early indicators of depression. Working with a therapist or counselor through every stage of your divorce can help you address your feelings and find healthy ways to cope with them. Your children may also need to speak with someone who can listen to them objectively, and help them deal with the loss, too.
“It’s time to move forward.”
Understand that reaching this “stage” can take less or more time than you expect – and that is okay. Some people begin their new lives the day the papers are signed; others may take months or even years to properly grieve their divorce. This is why you need a good team to support you at every stage of the divorce.
Which professionals can help you move through the stages of divorce?
We mentioned the importance of seeking a therapist or counselor to help you and/or your children process your feelings. There are others who can help you as well:
- If your divorce is amicable, you may want to work with a divorce mediator. He or she is a neutral third-party who can help you negotiate aspects of your divorce like property division, parenting plans, and spousal support. Mediators cannot
- A divorce arbiter can allow you and your spouse to move more quickly through the final processes while avoiding litigation. Divorce arbitration is more flexible than litigation, though it is a bit more limited in what it can resolve.
- Once the divorce is in motion, you will need to review and update your estate planning documents, such as wills, powers of attorney, and beneficiaries on accounts and insurance policies. An estate planning attorney can help with that.
- Because your financial situation is likely to change after your divorce, you should talk with a financial advisor about your savings, your taxes, and other budgetary concerns.
The Charlotte divorce attorneys of Epperson Law Group, PLLC have experience in all of these areas. We can serve as your mediators, represent you in arbitration, review and revise your estate plan, and help you plan for your financial future.
Epperson Law Group, PLLC understands that you have a long emotional road ahead of you when your marriage is coming to an end. It can be difficult to let go, but you won’t be doing it alone. To schedule your private consultation in our Charlotte, Boone, Concord, or Weddington offices, call 704-321-0031, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.