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How to help a friend or relative through separation or divorce.

depositphotos_61767043_originalI am impressed at how often those visiting my office for the first time are accompanied by a friend of family member, it is not essential but a great help to many.

You may have experienced friends appearing increasingly burdened with life only to announce they are separating from their husband or wife and considering divorce. Divorce and separation is one of the most stressful experiences a family can go through and my role as a friend is very different to that of legal adviser.

As a family solicitor I’m often asked how best to help a friend or relative through this difficult time. How can you help reduce the anxiety for those concerned?

What does your friend really want?

I encourage my client’s to consider what it is they really want. Very often after an initial meeting with a client I find that they don’t actually want a divorce and I can refer them to relationship counsellors who will help. For others there is no way back. If we are clear what we want in life decision making is so much easier and helps reduce stress.

Avoid trying to give advice

Whilst the cycle of bereavement following divorce is similar to many, all cases are unique and to start advising friends, “you should get this…” or “you deserve at least 75% of the house” is neither constructive nor helpful; in fact, it may be damaging and increase their anxiety. Instead try listening, active listening without interrupting to give your own view or share your own experience.

Be there for them

Becoming single again or becoming a single parent brings many challenges. Your friend will be upset so be there for them, take them out for supper, enable them to get out to the gym by babysitting the kids or doing the school run. Don’t try to match make or make things better give your friend the space to find themselves again.

Families however dissected and individuals continue to function and by encouraging someone to find out what they really want and giving them the space to find their way is the best help that you can offer.

If your friend needs clear and practical advice to give them peace of mind, suggest they contact James Belderbos of Bird Belderbos & Mee on 01664 498 998.

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