By: Nora Hudson for Divorced Moms
There are a million ways to support a person through divorce. Most of these ways involves understanding your place in the divorce process. I have been a practicing lawyer for over thirty years with the cornerstone of my practice being family law. Family Law involves divorce, child support, custody and spousal support. I believe divorce has three distinct stages with different emotional needs.
These stages are pre-divorce, active divorce and post divorce and each stage has its own set of emotional luggage and support criteria. During the pre-stage of divorce the parties may seem disoriented regarding the process. This is because no decision has been made to proceed with the divorce and the parties are walking the line on what to do and how to do it. The parties may be seeking a lawyer or money to pay the lawyer.
The active divorce is after the filing of the divorce with the court. If there are children there is usually a six month cooling off period and a sixty day waiting period when there are no children. This is the highly inflammable period when the parties are in a combative mode.
The post divorce period is the period of time after the Judge has signed the judgment, custody has been decided and child support and parenting time allocated.
Understand that divorce is quite traumatic even though your friend might be the one initiating the proceedings. It is akin to the five stages of grief articulated by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Sometimes theses five stages of grief appear in each of the stages of divorce, pre,active and post.
Below are 8 ways to help a friend through divorce:
1. Understand that support is support and not your opinion as to how things should occur. Sometimes people talk about divorce for years before they decide to file. Sometimes people will wake up one morning and file for divorce shocking friends and spouse alike.
2. Do not become invested in the outcome of the divorce. Do not become an initiator or the voice of reason. Your job as friend is to be a friend not to initiate action. I have seen friends who do this and in the end the friend becomes the person who is responsible for the divorce.
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3. Do not take sides as to initiation of the divorce proceedings, custody or child support. You are a friend and your intervention may be the catalyst away from resolution of issues rather than to resolution.
4. Understand that divorce involves illogical emotion and actions. Don’t be the amateur psychiatrist in fixing your friend. This is the time to listen. No matter how tempted you are to perhaps add your ten cents in the mix just listen.
5. Understand that your friend’s lawyer runs the show, understands the law and is ethically bound to represent his/her client and not you. Do not undermine your friends lawyer your friend is already on the brink and usually does not understand the process and if he/ she loses confidence in his/her lawyer all is lost.