Many times when you find out someone close to you is getting divorced, you begin to feel concerned for them and invariably it leads to many questions on what to do next. Our natural reaction is to support them when they are going through this difficult time. How can I help? What do I say? What can I do? Divorce can be very difficult, not only for the family involved, but for those close family and friends as well.
Unless you are an attorney don’t offer legal advice or strategy.
It appears that when people are getting divorced they attract well-meaning friends, relatives, and bystanders, whom think they should offer advice on how to manage their divorce case. It almost always ends in the message invariably encouraging suspicion, fear and fighting. “Be careful that he/she doesn’t hide money”, “Make sure you transfer money, so they don’t take it all”, “Are you sure he/she didn’t cheat?” and “Maybe you should hire a private detective.” Often, people who know little about divorce law are inserting their knowledge they have learned/seen in media or their own divorce. What’s important to realize is there is no divorce that is the same, do not compare yours to theirs. Encourage, yes; provide legal advice, no.
They need to know that you are there for them and that they have your support. It means you are there to listen, to offer encouragement and provide companionship when they need it the most. Many times, when people are getting divorced they begin to isolate themselves from everyone around them; so, reassure them that you won’t abandon them.
Respect their privacy
Respect their boundaries, know your limitations, and understand when to give space. Accept that this is a private matter and that the person will talk if they want to, or feel you are someone safe to talk to. Don’t press, don’t ask them to delve into reasons. Always keep communication open and cordial to avoid further conflict and turmoil. Remember that you are the friend, not the one going through the divorce, and that you do not have final say in any decisions regarding them, even if you disagree.
Include them in social events
It can be a huge help to a newly divorced person's emotional and mental health to go out and socialize. Often during a divorce, the friends get split just as much as the property, the finances, and every other aspect of their once-together life. So be inclusive.
When talking about the ex-spouse
Hold off on the “they were no good for you anyways” line of advice. You never know what the future will bring, they may get back together, or they still will have to deal with the former spouse for the sake of the children. Being supportive doesn’t mean bringing in your own negative opinions. A divorce that ends peacefully is always best, especially for the children. Remind your friend of the importance of keeping their children emotionally stable and never speak badly about the other parent in front of the children. Encourage your friend to practice the same behavior; never encourage them to badmouth their ex-spouse.
Make your support a way of life
Check on your friend routinely, make sure they are doing well. Divorce makes the breakup process so much longer and harder, long term support is a major key. A simple text or maybe a 10-minute phone call will do.
If you are the parent of the person getting divorced
Try your best to stay out of the fray, do not encourage fighting. Encourage peace. Spend extra time with your grandchildren but do NOT say negative things about your soon to be ex son or daughter in law. It’s very easy to act out with your immediate feelings of fear, anger and betrayal. It may feel justified in the short term, but does a great harm in the long run. You can be the parental voice of reason and reassurance rather than a further source of anxiety.
When kids are involved
You may find yourself in the position of being your friends' kids' confidant. The children may talk to you before they talk to their own parents. Reassure them that their parents still love them, and that the divorce is not their fault (often a child's biggest fear or suspicion). But try not to answer specific questions about "what happened?" The truth is that you don't know the details. Offer to take care of the children especially when there are court dates or meetings with lawyers. Do your best to shield the children from the negative effects of divorce while still respecting any boundaries set by their parents.
Family law litigation can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. We have years of experience helping our clients with their divorce and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to talk about your situation.
Disclaimer: All materials provided on this website have been prepared by Bains Law Firm for general information purposes only and no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice and may not be relied upon as such. Only an attorney who can review the unique facts of each case and apply them to the statutes, case law and court rules can provide legal advice. Nothing in this website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.