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What are the Five Stages of Divorce?

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People enter a marriage full of hopes and dreams for the future, and most people never plan on getting divorced. However, life happens, people change, and things can happen that you never expected were possible. If you’re married, considering getting married, or on the way to the end of your marriage, it’s helpful to know what could lie ahead if you decide to separate from your spouse.

Stages of Divorce

The prospect of a new future can feel both scary and freeing. It’s common to feel a wide range of emotions when navigating the legal complexities of divorce. Understanding the five stages of divorce can provide valuable insights into the emotional and legal aspects of the separation process.

Stages of Grief

The stages of divorce correlate to the stages of grief identified by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying.” She described the five stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The perspectives Dr. Kubler-Ross expressed in her book were groundbreaking at the time, as much of Western culture previously avoided discussing death and the topics surrounding it.

The ideas expressed in “On Death and Dying” are often utilized to describe individuals’ emotional journey when confronted with loss in general, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a dream, or a relationship. Divorce is a process that involves grieving a marriage and therefore has stages that align with those identified by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

Stage 1: Denial

After committing to marry, it can be shocking once you realize it is ending. You’ve built a life together, and the prospect of taking it apart and starting over is daunting. The first stage of divorce is often characterized by denial: when people struggle to accept that a situation is happening. They may ignore early warning signs, minimize their spouse’s relationship concerns, or reject desires to separate until they can no longer do so.

Stage 2: Anger

As the reality of divorce sinks in, anger and resentment often surface quickly. Individuals going through stage two express intense emotions, some of which could be repressed for a long time until the partners finally decide to separate. The former spouse is often the target of these feelings, but it is not uncommon to feel angry without a specific source.

While some anger in these difficult circumstances is natural, it’s important to keep perspective on the real issues and what anger contributes to the situation. It’s vital to ensure that children and other family members should not be involved or present in the middle of arguments about divorce.

Constructively managing anger is crucial at all times, and failing to keep your anger under control can have serious repercussions when it comes to legal proceedings. It may be best to communicate only through legal representation if you struggle to keep your emotions in check when speaking with your former partner. A legal team can assist you in channeling your emotions productively, ensuring that your legal rights are protected and that you approach negotiations or litigation rationally.

Stage 3: Bargaining

Breaking up is hard, and when you are lonely and missing what you had, it can be tempting to want to try to fix the relationship instead of splitting up. During the bargaining stage, people may attempt to find ways to reconnect with their partner or negotiate more favorable divorce terms than they usually would. It is crucial to approach the bargaining stage with a realistic mindset.

Support from friends and family members is vital when struggling with this stage. A good support network can provide needed company and advice. They can also remind you why you started the separation process, your interests, and what a fair and equitable divorce means to you.

Stage 4: Depression

After sharing so many great experiences and feelings with a partner, the reality of what separation will mean sets in during the fourth stage of divorce. Depression often comes with the realization that the marriage is indeed ending, and the future looks different than what you planned.

Feelings of sadness, loss, loneliness, and grief mark stage four. It is crucial to prioritize your emotional well-being during this stage and seek support from trusted friends, family, or a therapist. Recognize that many others like you have struggled through this stage and made it to a bright future on the other side.

Stage 5: Acceptance

The final stage of divorce is acceptance. At this point, each person begins to embrace the reality of the situation and shift their focus toward moving forward. From a legal standpoint, acceptance involves making informed decisions about the separation and taking appropriate actions to finalize the divorce.

Finding a lawyer to help you navigate the paperwork, hearings, and legal processes required to obtain a divorce is essential. A family law specialist in San Jose for divorce matters will ensure that you take all necessary legal steps to bring closure to the marriage while protecting your interests during the separation.

Meet With Argyris Mah Today to Plan for Your Future

Divorce is a complex and emotionally challenging process that unfolds through five distinct stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You can navigate your divorce as well as possible by preparing for these stages and their legal implications with the assistance of an attorney.

With years of experience supporting clients like you, Argyris Mah is committed to providing expert legal guidance, protecting your rights, and caring for your well-being throughout each stage of the divorce process. If you are facing a divorce and need support, contact Argyris Mah today at (408) 214-6366 to schedule a consultation and embark on a path toward a brighter future.

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