If you’re not carefully monitoring, game planning, and working, then things can spiral out of control very quickly in an emotional divorce. So, we need to be very careful with an emotional divorce.
But let’s be real, almost every divorce is an emotional divorce, right? It’s second to the death of a loved one as far as emotions and what you feel when you’re dealing with the grieving process.
However, there is a small percentage of divorces where the emotions involved cause one or both of the parties to act irrationally — and frankly make it so that they’re unable to come to the table, make good decisions, and work things out the right way. This can have devastating consequences.
For example, it can mean a high-conflict divorce and/or ruined parenting relationships. And it can also mean that negative consequences happen to the kids, and the kids have an even more difficult time with an already difficult process.
Financially, it can mean that the cost of a divorce spirals much higher than it should — and people are wasting money that they shouldn’t on lawyers and on the process, but instead should be keeping for the family.
How To Calm Down An Emotional Divorce
So, an emotional divorce is a real problem. And what can we do about it?
Well first, the most important thing is to recognize that we are in the midst of one of these highly volatile, emotional divorces. We’ve got to recognize that one of the parties is having an issue.
When people come into our office the first thing that we do is get into the details to figure out how our client is doing emotionally, and also to understand how the other party is doing emotionally.
Here’s an example of the type of thing that we’re looking for:
Was there infidelity in the relationship or some sort of violation of trust that came out of the blue? If so, who did it and how long ago did this happen?
In other words, if our client’s saying, “Listen, Chris. Unfortunately, I’m going through a divorce. I cheated on my wife, she found out about it a couple of weeks ago, and she’s not going to be able to forgive me.”
That’s an indicator that we’ve got to keep an eye on this. Not because our client did anything wrong; Florida is a no-fault state. Florida doesn’t really care what caused you guys to get to the divorce process.
But we care because we need to know if the wife is going through a set of emotions that might lead her to the point where she’s not acting rationally and making it difficult for us to bring this case to a fair and quick conclusion.
Next Steps To Cooling Down An Emotional Divorce
So first, we have to identify the problem of an emotional divorce.
Next, we want to consider slowing down the process. In some cases, the best thing we can do is recognize that there’s a high level of emotion right now with one of the spouses. And as a result, we want to slow things down. We’ll have our client focus on finances, gathering documents, and other technical aspects of the divorce. And in that, hope that a little bit of time will help one or both of the parties go through the grieving process and feel better when it’s time for negotiations.
But sometimes, we want to consider speeding up the process. In some cases, slowing down is not the right way to play the game. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is a race to the courthouse. We may not actually want to go to trial — but sometimes the best thing we can do is make sure that the process is moving as quickly as possible, so we don’t get stuck in the mud.
For example, sometimes we have a situation where whatever has happened to make it such an emotional divorce is so serious it’s nothing that we as lawyers are going to be able to fix. Maybe we represent the husband and the wife has been burned so badly and is just so angry that she is going to burn the ship down, so to speak.
Well, we have to recognize that this where this woman is — because any hanging around in the process is just an opportunity for the bull to run around in the china shop and break more china. So, we need to quickly take actions that will help get this case to a conclusion, help preserve our client’s money, and also make sure we preserve — if not nurture — the relationship between our client and his kids.
So, sometimes, we want to consider speeding things up.
When Outside Help Is Needed
Four, we need to consider engaging the help of mental health professionals. Sometimes it’s our client who is really suffering in the process, and we know that they’re going to have a hard time working with us to facilitate a fair deal and get things resolved. And frankly, they’re hurting.
We have a list of mental health professionals who deal specifically with people going through a divorce who can help guide them through this process and hopefully speed up the process of healing.
If we know that the other side is struggling and the emotions are high, well we can’t necessarily force them to go to a counselor except in very unique situations where kids are involved. But the general rule is we can’t make someone go for counseling.
However, what we can do is discuss things like collaborative divorce or a divorce process that engages a neutral facilitator — who is often a mental health professional and ultimately helps both parties.
The Bottom Line In An Emotional Divorce
In all cases where there’s an emotional divorce, again the important thing is to recognize what’s going on and to make sure that we’re aggressive from the very beginning. That helps us develop a game plan that will either help resolve the high level of emotions or, if we can’t resolve it, make sure that we get through the process in a way that’s going to benefit our client the best, preserve as much money as we can, and facilitate and nurture a relationship with the kids.