The Five Stages of Divorce

BJ Mann

BJ Mann

Many people liken the end of a marriage to a death, and, in many respects, that is accurate. It is the end of a dream and a vision that had sustained you for a long time. There have been many comparisons to the five stages of death described by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her book On Death and Dying.

Divorce Stages: Your Own Path Is Unique

Keep in mind it’s very unlikely to go through these grief stages linearly, one after another. It’s very common to circle back to a previous stage. You may find yourself letting go of anger, moving towards sadness, and then be triggered by anger again. Over time, you will find you stay in each stage for shorter and shorter periods, healing more quickly, with less disruption of your life and fewer repetition of the stages.

Learn how to deal with the stages of divorce by reading the rest of BJ’s article.


Dancing to the Edge

Ada Hasloecher

Ada Hasloecher

We know that old adage: “Be careful what you ask for because you might get it.” How many of us have lived to see this come true! I see this maxim not so much as a warning, which tends to paralyze us, but more as a caution which makes us stop, think and take things into more careful consideration.

Rarely does anyone come to the mediation table dancing a jig. Separation and divorce is serious business – very serious business. No matter how much one may feel they have reached the point in their marriage that separating is the only option; no matter how clearly they may feel that it is absolutely the right thing to do; it is still a huge event laden with many weights that need to be measured very carefully.

Even when this difficult work has been done and the “reluctant” spouse agrees to the mediation and hence, the separation, it doesn’t always guarantee that the march to the finish will be a straight line. I’ve had more than a few mediations where the spouse who pressed for the divorce began what I can only call the “dance to the edge,” only to back away at the last minute.

Read the rest of Ada’s article to learn how to mediate the successful conclusion of a marriage.

Still Living with Your Soon-to-Be Ex? A “Dating Agreement” Might Help

Daniel Burns

Daniel Burns

Many of my clients have been “separated” from their spouse for quite some time, even though they are not living apart. I am talking about couples who decided long ago that their marriage was over, but have been unable to live separately due to financial issues or because they are waiting for their house to sell.

Since the marriage is over, some of them wish to “get on with their lives,” which means they want to start dating again. The problem is that it is often difficult to date while you are still living with your soon-to-be ex. And you certainly do not want there to be any misunderstanding between the two of you about the dating “ground rules.”

As a result, some clients decide to create a “Dating Agreement” that outlines these ground rules. While a dating agreement can be contained in a Settlement Agreement, they are often done before a complete agreement is reached, and are part of a separate document that outlines the dating rules before there is an actual separation.

Read the rest of Dan’s article to learn what types of provisions you might include in a dating agreement.

Create a Family Manifesto: Bring Unity by Developing Your Own Rules of Law

Rachel Alexander

Rachel Alexander

Straddling two addresses is difficult enough for an adult, but for a child who has limited control over his environment, and is tasked to follow the rules of others, it can be a losing proposition. Each household may have its own personality, ground rules (spoken or unspoken), guiding values and principles, but this arrangement can cause confusion and uncertainty for children shuttled between the households. However, like all things difficult, there is opportunity! Here, the opportunity is to create a clear set of rules for both households to live by, behaviors to aspire to, and principles to embody day-to-day.

Create a “Family Manifesto” – consider what is important for the well-being of you and your family and what rules would enhance household harmony and happiness. Read the rest of Rachel’s article to learn how to engage children in this process and ultimately strengthen family relationships.

One-Up, One-Down: Power Imbalances in Mediation

Susan Ingram

Susan Ingram

I recently participated in a discussion with a number of colleagues who are therapists working with couples and their families. We had all just witnessed a divorce mediation session where a couple was discussing the parenting arrangements for their two children, both under the age of ten.

The husband and wife were both foreign-born, although they had lived in New York City for quite a few years and had raised their children here as well. They had decided, because of money issues and a desire to be closer to family, that the mother and children would move back to Italy. The father needed to continue working at his job in New York City, and it was not clear if, or when, he might have the opportunity to move his home to Italy as well.

The couple seemed to be on the same page and discussed their parenting plans in a polite and rational manner. While it made sense monetarily for them to proceed with this move, it became clear from the father’s body language and tentative responses that he was concerned. Because of the distance involved and the fact that he could not afford to visit them often, his relationship with his children could suffer. His sadness was almost palpable.

It was during our discussion after the couple left that one of the therapists made a simple observation: “There’s always one-up and one-down.” She was referring to the fact that, in any relationship, it’s rare that both parties will have an equal amount of power. Typically one party ‘has the advantage’ and the other, ‘less of the advantage.’

Read the rest of Susan’s article to learn what a mediator can do when faced with an imbalance of power between the parties.

Parent Coordinators? Who Are They?

Jennifer Safian

Jennifer Safian

A Parent Coordinator (PC) is usually a licensed mental health professional or an attorney assigned by the courts to manage ongoing issues in high-conflict parenting cases. The PC’s decisions then become court-ordered. We are also frequently seeing parents voluntarily engage a PC to help them with their conflicts around their children. The parents agree to abide by the decisions made by the PC.

Read the rest of Jennifer’s article to learn how a PC can help implement parenting plans, structure communications between high-conflict parents and establish protocols to protect the interests of children.