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Stages of Grief during divorce/separation and how it impacts settlement negotiations

Most people know that going through a divorce or separation can be a difficult process. People separating from a spouse can experience the same feelings as someone who has lost a close friend or relative due to his/her death. As we know, grief and love are the theme of many famous songs which remind us that it is unrealistic to think that your partner or spouse can or should accept the end of a relationship as being an easy and painless process.

Since grieving is an individual process, it is necessary to understand its stages so that you can allow your spouse or partner to grieve and come to terms with the end of the relationship.

According to Kübler-Ross the stages of grief are as follows:

  1. Shock/denial;
  2. Anger;
  3. Bargaining;
  4. Depression/despair;
  5. Acceptance.;

Given that grief is an individual process, not everybody goes through the above stages in the order described. Many people in fact navigate through these stages back and forth during a period of time until they are able to accept the end of their relationship. Others unfortunately, might not even be able to experience all stages and can get stuck in one of them for a long period of time or never reach the stage of acceptance.

It is difficult to reach an agreement with your spouse when for example he/she is in a state of shock/denial or anger. The collaborative law professionals are trained to assist you and your spouse to make informed and sound decisions in relation to the future and the future of your family. Within our process we acknowledge the stages of grief and identify periods of high emotions so that the pace of the process can be slowed down if necessary, and in order to achieve a sound outcome.

As a tip, if your spouse is going through high emotions and you do not know what to do, keep in mind that we should not try to define other people’s grief with our own words as this process is unique. Respecting each other’s emotions and feelings is important for a successful outcome in all aspects of life including negotiating a divorce settlement.