A divorce can be an extremely difficult time in a person’s life. Individuals going through the process often turn to friends and family to help get them through this painful time. Unfortunately this can actually make things worse if the people who should be there to provide understanding inflame the situation by giving advice about matters they have little or no knowledge about.
Don’t believe everything you hear: People often give out legal advice about divorce matters as though they are attorneys in the field. Much of this advice is misguided or even flatly incorrect. Individuals throw out monetary figures with abandon. These individuals, many of whom have never even undergone the divorce process themselves, may mean well, but listening to and believing in the accuracy of their statements can give you a false picture of your own eventual settlement – and lead you to an incorrect assessment of the situation. Stick to the advice of professionals. In addition to the actual experience and expertise the mediator and/or attorney possesses, he or she is more intimately related with the specific facts of your case.
Don’t be afraid to tell people to stop inflaming the already stressful situation: Whether intentional or not, friends and family of those divorcing often act in such a way as to make the situation even more painful. Bringing up negatives about your spouse in an attempt to seem sympathetic can bring unnecessary anger and bitterness to the surface. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t be afraid to say “you’re not helping me right now” and explain that what you need is a friend to listen, not someone to get you more worked up about the situation.
Every divorce is unique: Each has its own particular problems and potential resolutions. The only people who truly understand why things may not have worked out as expected are the people in the relationship itself. Comparing your divorce to your neighbors’ or any other is like comparing apples to oranges.
Friends and family can be, and often are, a positive force of comfort during a divorce if they remember that their primary role is to listen and be supportive, not to be instigators and make matters worse.
Michele Martin is a divorce mediator serving the Capital District of New York including Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, Warren, Fulton and Washington Counties.
Michele M. Martin Divorce Mediator
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CFDATM)