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Easing the emotional pitfalls of divorce

Very few, if any, Californians enter a marriage expecting the union to fail. But, divorce is a common phenomenon, and even the mere thought of divorce can unleash a flood of unpleasant emotions, including anger, grief, fear and anxiety. Psychologists who have studied divorce have offered a number of suggestions for eliminating or softening the impact of these emotions.

One of the most important suggestions is to avoid thinking of a divorce as some type of combat. One very helpful method of accomplishing this end is using a divorce mediator to guide the parties through their disputes by helping them communicate their wishes and fears. The participation of a neutral third party can often provide useful suggestions for property division, child custody and support and spousal maintenance. The use of a mediator can also shield children from the anguish experienced by their parents.

Each party should also devote time to self-care. Relying on a support network or leaning on families and friends can ease the feelings of loneliness. Physical health should also be tended to, by getting enough exercise and eating healthy foods. Seeking professional help from a mental health professional can also help. An experienced therapist can help in understanding why the marriage failed and how to avoid a similar mistake if re-marriage becomes likely.

Finally, hiring a competent attorney is another crucial step if the couple has accumulated significant assets or if spousal or child support becomes an issue. A knowledgeable family lawyer can help with legal issues, such as property division, tax issues, child and spousal support. A capable family lawyer understands that the purpose of divorce is to help a couple end their marriage on reasonable terms that will allow the parties to rebuild their lives as quickly as possible.

Source: American Psychological Association, "Healthy divorce: How to make your split as smooth as possible," accessed on Feb. 5, 2018

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