Written By: Helen Honorow
The American Institute of Stress ranks going through a divorce as the second most stressful life event. The only thing more stressful is the death of a spouse.
Both spouses in a divorce have fears about what will happen next. They are unsure of what their life will be like after the divorce. Fear can turn into loathing when parties react out of fear and lash out at the other side. One of the advantages of using the Collaborative Divorce process is that it creates a safe place to name and address those fears.
4 Common Fears in Divorce
Fear can paralyze people. You or your spouse may have stayed in the marriage out of fear of change and what life would be like after the divorce. Fear can keep you from acting in your best interest during the divorce process. There are some fears that are common in every divorce.
Financial fear. You may be worried about how you will be able to live by stretching income that once supported a single household into now supporting two households? Will you be able to afford anything resembling the lifestyle that had been established during the marriage? How will you support the children?
If you have not been working outside the home, or only been working part-time, will you now be able to get a full-time job? You and your soon to be ex- spouse worry whether you will still be able to provide parenting that is best for your children when the economic situation changes.
Social fear. You may be concerned about what your social life will be like post-divorce. You have had mostly married friends. Will those friends now feel like they need to take sides? Will they hesitate to invite you or your spouse to events? What about couples whose children have interacted with your children? Will those get-togethers cease for both spouses and children or just one spouse?
You may fear what will happen to your relationship with your in-laws. If you had a good relationship with the in-laws, will it still be possible to have that, or will the relationships fade away?
Fears for the children. Both parents are generally concerned about what will happen with their relationships with their children. If one parent is the primary custodial parent, will the other one be able to spend adequate time with the children? How can you help the children understand and adapt to the new family dynamics?
What if the other spouse has another person in their life? How will that impact the children and their relationships with each parent?
Fear of Failure. When you married you committed to being together for your entire lives. You put a lot of energy into the relationship and worked hard to make it forever, but it didn’t work out. You may feel that that you failed in your marriage, failed your children, and failed to meet the expectations of your family and friends. This fear of failure can keep you or your spouse from taking the actions that need to be made so you or they can move forward positively.
How Collaborative Divorce Can Help Allay Those Fears
In a Collaborative Divorce, there is a team of neutral professionals who work together with the couple to address such fear. Some team members include:
- Divorce Coach. The mental health coach is not either party’s therapist, but helps each spouse verbalize their fears, concerns, and hot-button issues. The coach often begins the first meeting by asking each spouse to express why they are there. As the process proceeds, the coach will use this to remind the couple why they are using the collaborative process.
- Financial Neutral. This expert helps you both to prepare realistic budgets for your future. They can work out different asset-division scenarios and consider tax implications that are best for both spouses.
The collaborative process allows each of the professionals; the Attorney, the Mental Health Coach, and Financial Neutral, to act in their specialized role and to help the couple to make decisions that are in their best interests in order to move forward post-divorce.
For over 25 years, Helen Honorow has concentrated her practice on family law related legal matters including divorce, parenting schedules, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and guardianship matters.