The Seven Stages of Divorce


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Each person experiences the seven stages of divorce differently. While someone may not encounter these stages in this particular order, this is a good guide to how you may feel throughout the dissolution of a marriage.

1. Denial

Denial likely occurs during the initial stages of divorce. People are often subconsciously unable or unwilling to accept the loss of their marriage, especially if it comes as a surprise. When your sense of normalcy is disturbed, denial can be a defense mechanism against the change in your reality and trauma that it may bring.

Because denial can impact relationships, behavior, and court proceedings, it is important to have the right support system in place. Surround yourself with the right family, friends, and professionals (including a family law attorney and therapist) to help you get through it.

2. Fear

Fear can be especially prevalent during the dissolution of a marriage.  You may start to feel fear as you think about what is next for you, where you will live, where your money will come from, or how your custody agreement may play out.

3. Anger

You also may become angry when you and your spouse disagree. These feelings are normal, but can also become destructive as they may lead to a drawn-out court process. Because of the emotional aspect of this stage, it is important to have the right family attorney and therapist on your side, so you know what to expect.

4. Bargaining and Divorce

After the anger has subsided, you or your spouse may start to ask questions and examine what could have been done differently. Or, you both may begin to wonder if there is hope for a reconciliation.

Divorcees may often make promises (sometimes unrealistic) to stop the loss of their relationship. This is a normal part of the process. If you are experiencing the bargaining stage of divorce you should always remember to put yourself first and keep your eye on what is right for you.

5. Guilt

Guilt comes hand in hand with bargaining as divorcees move through the stages and often engage in self-reflection. This is the stage where you may lay blame on yourself and question your past mistakes and decisions. Because this is such a personal part of the divorce process and it is often when people are hardest on themselves, it is important to seek out a positive outlet where you feel encouraged and supported.

6. Depression and Divorce

This part of the divorce process may be the heaviest burden in the seven stages.  All of the stress and pressure of trying to maintain your composure during the dissolution of a marriage could lead to some serious problems with depression.

Seek support from a licensed professional for help with combatting feelings of hopelessness and loss. There could be professional and financial ramifications if you do not get help.

7. Acceptance

Once you reach this stage of divorce, you have fully processed the end of your marriage and may have started to move on. During this step, you may start to see your new life more clearly and know where you want to be personally, professionally, and financially.

Contact a Family Attorney

The dissolution of a marriage comes with many ups and downs. If you have further questions about the seven stages of divorce, contact our office today. One of our caring and compassionate attorneys could help you through this difficult and emotional process.

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