Five Stages of the Divorce Process

Divorce Process, Divorce, Wedding Dress

Photo Credit: Siti Fatimah

Divorce doesn’t happen overnight. 

It begins long before the idea forms, and continues well after the decision is made.  

In Clarity Road’s experience, there are five stages of the divorce process that many women endure on their road to recovery.

These steps are by no means exhaustive. And there is no way to know how long it will take to progress from stage one to five.

But trust us enough to know that wherever you are on your journey, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

You will eventually walk from consideration to closure – regardless of the bumps in between.

Stage 1 – Consideration

Before separation, at least one party begins to grow distant – perhaps years prior to divorce itself. It may be you; it may be your partner. Regardless, you will begin to fall out of step with each other.

Bad habits annoy you more and more.

You start resenting your partner’s presence.

You catch yourself considering what life would be like without them…a lot.

Sometimes, these thoughts can lead to sexual, financial or emotional infidelity. Inevitably, they lead two people to grow apart.

Consideration of divorce may also be influenced by stressful circumstances relating to work, money or family problems. Without significant communication, the strongest of relationships can eventually break down under the pressure of mounting debt or grief.

Stage 2 – Communication

The second stage of divorce involves the expression of dissatisfaction between spouses. Sometimes, this conversation may lead directly to the decision to separate. More often, couples decide to give it “one last shot”, and make a conscious effort to rebuild their broken ties.

Relationship counselling or initiatives like regular date nights can result in a momentary improvement. However, as time goes on, you each slowly revert back to your old habits and end at a point where little has changed.

Stage 3 – Confirmation

It feels like all options have been exhausted. You know that your relationship is no longer working and make the ultimate decision to get a divorce. Cue emotional turmoil.

Whether your split is amicable or one-sided, a great sense of displacement and grief is unavoidable.

Questions like “How did this happen?” and “Now what?” consume your thoughts.

At the same time, physical distance is placed between you and your partner. You begin to live separately and have to adjust to life without them.

Stage 4 – Confrontation

The confrontation phase of the divorce process doesn’t necessarily involve fighting with your ex-partner. But it is does involve confronting the overwhelming number of technicalities related to divorce. Legal, financial and everyday factors hit home and you are forced to face up to issues like who will take care of the kids and how your assets will be divided.

At the same time, you can be confronted by the full emotional reality of what divorce means. The initial adrenalin around leaving an unfulfilling relationship can wear off and leave you feeling dejected, isolated and helpless.

The good news is that you aren’t alone – Clarity Road is on your side.

Stage 5 – Closure

This final phase in the divorce process begins when the legalities of your divorce are finalised and you are truly able to live separate lives. Slowly you come to terms with the situation and accept everything that has happened. You also start to regain a sense of control and become excited by the chance for a new beginning.

When will it all be over?

You feel like you have reached a point of closure. But every now and then, a small reminder like a letter addressed to your married name will throw your back into feelings of anger, grief or regret. It can be easy to beat yourself up about this sensitivity – in short, don’t.

These emotions don’t mean that you are still stuck in stage three. Simply, they mean you are human.

Your marriage was an important part of your life. At one point, it was everything you wanted. In spite of the way it ended, you are allowed to miss the good times that you once shared. Give yourself permission to reflect and don’t be afraid of your feelings.

The divorce process will transform your life.

Find out how to make divorce a change for the better. 

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