You know things aren’t working at home when your marriage has gone stale. There’s nothing left in the tank, and neither of you want to put the effort into making things work. And that’s when divorce enters the picture. Divorce is never easy, and we often don’t realize all that goes on during the process. There are stages of divorce, and it’s best to be fully aware of what to expect when going through this process. Learn more about the stages of divorce below.
Stage 1: Emotional Turmoil and Denial
The first stage of divorce is typically when one spouse tells the other about the decision to part ways. This can be a very difficult stage because it is when emotions and denial begin to set in. It’s common for both parties to feel angry, anxious, hurt, and betrayed.
- Initial Shock and Disbelief: In this stage, emotions of fear, anger, sadness, confusion, and guilt are common. Denial is often present as people struggle to believe the truth. This can create a numbing sensation and a sense of disconnection as individuals try to deny the reality of the situation. People in this stage may also experience physical signs of distress, such as headaches, fatigue, shallow breathing, and increased heart rate. Coping skills, including volunteering, forming strong social support networks, and engaging in healthy activities can help individuals reduce emotional turmoil and reach a more accepting stage.
- Overwhelming Emotions: In this stage, a person can feel an intense amount of turmoil, confusion, and chaos in their lives. They may deny the feelings or emotions in order to silence the chaos and confusion, as these emotions can be too overwhelming. Trying to ignore or deny the emotions, feeling anger or rage due to the emotions, and developing rash reactions from the intense emotions. In this stage, a person may also feel like they don’t have any control over the emotions that they are experiencing.
- Struggling to Accept Reality: When faced with any unforeseen life event or reality, people typically go through a shock, disbelief, and denial phase before fully accepting it. This initial stage is filled with fear, discomfort, and disorientation as people grapple with the sudden change; subsequently, they will often cling firmly to denial as a defense mechanism in hopes that the reality will go away. It is important to find support, develop effective coping mechanisms, and have a certain degree of flexibility to help in the process of progressing to the next stage.
Stage 2: Legal Proceedings and Initiating Divorce
The process usually begins with the filing of the divorce paperwork. Depending on the state, the paperwork is either filed with the courts or with the appropriate county office. This provides information pertaining to each party and their respective position.
- Filing for Divorce: The paperwork is filed, and the divorce process is officially initiated. This stage is also known as the way the court begins to consider the divorce. Following filing for divorce, the next stage of the legal proceedings is for both parties to respond to the divorce action. This is important in order to determine the specifics of the divorce, such as alimony payments. Parties must accurately disclose income and assets, agree on which party will have custody of the children, and enter into a mediated agreement on how all of the marital assets and liabilities will be divided.
- Serving Divorce Papers: This typically happens after stage 1, which consists of the initial paperwork being filed and submitted in court. When legal proceedings and initiating divorce are requested, the other party involved must be served with a petition for divorce and a summons. The summons must state that the party has a certain amount of time to respond to the divorce petition. If the other party does not respond or fails to comply with court orders, the divorce is considered uncontested, and the court can grant the divorce.
- Legal Consultations and Advice: Legal consultations are essential between both parties, their respective attorneys, and possibly any court-appointed mediators. This is the time when each spouse/partner should consider all legal documents necessary to proceed with the dissolution process, such as: completed financial affidavit irreconcilable differences agreement marital settlement agreement. Visit our Tucson divorce attorney to ensure the proceedings are handled correctly and effectively.
Stage 3: Negotiation and Transition
The negotiation and transition stages of divorce are a time for both parties to come to an agreement as to how to best proceed. This process can involve lawyers and other advocates to come to a legal resolution, or couples can try to mediate or come to an agreement themselves.
- Addressing Practical Matters: Addressing practical matters is often overlooked, particularly in the context of mergers, acquisitions, or fundamental restructuring. After the details of the proposed alliance have been largely agreed upon, the practical matters for the two parties to consider and address include topics such as the structure of the new alliance, the compatibility of the two companies’ accounting systems, the impact on the workforce, and the integration plans. Effective and proactive communication, as well as clear and consistent processes for dealing with practical matters, can help ensure a successful negotiation and transition process characterized by mutual understanding, cooperation, and collaboration.
- Property Division and Asset Allocation: This phase involves the spouses reaching an agreement on who gets the marital property and how it should be divided. The couple must decide who should keep the house, the retirement savings, any valuable items, and other assets.
- Child Custody and Support Arrangements: The parties involved (usually the court, the parents, and legal representatives) agree to the final proposed arrangements. This includes what kind of access and support plans are in the best interest of the child, including a long-term parenting plan and specific child support payments for the primary caregiver. This is the final effort to come to an agreement that works for everyone’s needs, and it is important to remember that the child’s well-being and future should always be the number one priority. Any negotiation or transition should be based on the wishes and best interests of the child, as custody and support arrangements can have a huge impact on their mental, emotional, and financial security.
Stage 4: Emotional Acceptance and Healing
This stage is when the individual starts to move past the sadness and hurt of ending the perfect marriage and is able to accept the reality of the situation. During this stage, the individual is likely to experience a range of emotions such as grief, regret, anger, and even relief.
- Coming to Terms with Divorce: They come to understand that, regardless of the circumstances, divorce is the best decision for both parties. They are able to accept the divorce and find ways to accept it as a natural process involved in life and acknowledge their individual feelings of loss. This may involve some degree of forgiveness towards their ex-partner or a feeling of guilt for not making the relationship work. This is especially true for those who have children, as they need to face the changes coming in relation to parenting and parenting arrangements. It involves recognizing their own feelings and pain and finding ways to accept and heal from the pain.
- Coping with Emotions: It is the process of recognizing and accepting intense emotions and accepting that the feelings may not necessarily be comfortable but should be respected. Individuals begin to develop adaptive coping strategies and emotional resilience to better manage their emotions. This involves actively trying to build self-esteem, seeking out support from others, self-care such as body exercise or meditation, and developing problem-solving skills.
Stage 5: New Beginnings and Moving Forward
This stage is essential as it helps to bridge the gap between the stagnation of the past and the chaos of the future. The goal is to use the lessons learned from past experiences and use them to guide decisions and actions.
- Finalizing Agreements: This is where both parties come to a finalized understanding and sign off on a plan. This could mean the sign-off of a contract, a signed declaration of completion, or another form of proof that an agreement has been come to. Both parties should be working together to create a fully agreed-upon strategy and document that all parties can agree on. This documentation should include details on all the agreed-upon terms and conditions and any necessary stipulations.
- Embracing a Fresh Start: A person has…