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  • Writer's pictureClaire Edwards

Role of Friends and Family in Amicable Divorce

Going through a divorce is never easy. It's a time of immense emotional strain and significant life changes. The support of family and friends can be invaluable during this time. However, it's essential to understand the nuances of their role, the type of advice, and how to use their help.

1. Unsolicited Advice: A Double-Edged Sword

Title: The Role of Family and Friends in Your Divorce: Support, Advice, and Referrals Going through a divorce is never easy. It's a time of immense emotional strain and significant life changes. During this challenging period, the support of family and friends can be invaluable. However, it's essential to understand the nuances of their role, the type of advice to heed, and how to best utilize their assistance. Here, we'll explore the role of family and friends in your divorce journey and how to make the most of their support. 1. Unsolicited Advice: A Double-Edged Sword When news of your divorce spreads, you may find yourself inundated with well-intentioned advice from family and friends. While their concern is genuine, it's essential to recognize that not all advice is equal. Some friends may share their own experiences or those of acquaintances. This can be valuable if it sheds light on potential pitfalls or strategies. However, unsolicited advice can also be problematic. Every divorce is unique, and what worked for one person may not apply to your situation. Be cautious about following advice without considering your specific circumstances, and always consult a legal professional for tailored guidance.

2. Support Through the Difficult Times

One of the most crucial roles family and friends can play during a divorce is providing emotional support. The process is emotionally draining, and having a network of people who genuinely care about your well-being can make a significant difference. Whether it's a shoulder to lean on, a sympathetic ear, or just a comforting presence, their support can help you navigate the emotional rollercoaster that often accompanies divorce.

3. The Art of Listening

Sometimes, what you need most is someone who listens without judgment. Family and friends can offer a safe space to express your feelings and concerns. Sharing your experiences can be cathartic, and it may lead to valuable insights or moments of clarity as you work through your emotions.

4. Professionals as Friends: A Tricky Balance

It's not uncommon to have friends who are professionals in fields related to divorce, such as law or mediation. While their expertise can be a valuable resource, it's important to understand the delicate balance they must maintain between friendship and professional objectivity. Some friends may decline to offer advice due to this inherent difficulty. Respect their boundaries, and if they're willing to help, consider their input as one perspective among others. Remember that their advice should be impartial and based on your best interests, just as it would be for any client.

5. Beware of Horror Stories

Not all advice from family and friends is well-intentioned. Be cautious about individuals who want to share horror stories of their own or others' divorce experiences. Such tales can stoke fear and anxiety, potentially leading to aggressive or inflammatory actions that undermine successful mediation. It's tempting to soak in the drama. It can take the stress off for a short fleeting moment. However, in the long run, listening to other people's drama often tears up the healing you've worked so hard to do. So be sure to listen to others who are not going to cause you more pain at this time- you'll be there for them when they need you in a few months or years.

6. Leveraging Your Support Network

Your family and friends can be valuable resources beyond emotional support. They can assist you in finding the right professionals to guide you through the divorce process. Ask for referrals for mediators, attorneys, financial advisors, or therapists from those who have had positive experiences. Seriously! Interview a few professionals. Get a feel for what's professional advice compared to just that human-with-a-degree's personality. You'll want to have a good personality fit because all the degrees are the same!

7. Personal Accounts of Mediation

If someone in your circle has undergone mediation during their divorce, their firsthand account can be immensely helpful. Hearing about the process, challenges faced, and resolutions reached can better prepare you for what to expect. Personally, I reached out to friends and family and followed through with friends of friends when deciding on a wedding venue. It's a divorce, not a divorce wedding. So much easier! So if you hear someone did mediation or made it through their divorce without an attorney, please ask them how they made that work. I know I've had a few friends succeed in not using attorneys. Sometimes they do consultations but don't retain an attorney. Sometimes they use pro-se forms. Get informed. You got this!

8. Setting Realistic Expectations

While family and friends can provide a strong support system, it's essential to remember that expecting more than that from them is unfair. Lean on their emotional support, utilize their referrals and personal accounts, but remember that they are not a substitute for professional advice tailored to your unique circumstances. In conclusion, family and friends can be pillars of strength during a divorce, offering support, insights, and valuable connections. Approach their advice with discernment, lean on their emotional support, and use their experiences to inform your decisions. In doing so, you'll have a robust support network to help you navigate the challenging terrain of divorce with greater confidence and resilience.

Additional Resources

Divorce Without Court, A Guide to Mediation and Collaborative Divorce by Attorney-Mediator Katherine E. Stoner, 5th Ed. 2018, Nolo

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