Copyright by Merlene Bishop

Divorce is a complex process involving legal, emotional, and economic aspects as well as learning to be a collaborative co-parent. The emotional aspect of divorce often begins long before the economic and legal.

It begins when you fully realize that your marriage is not going to work, despite all your efforts.It is not uncommon for one person to realize this before another does. When you come to this point it can feel very painful and overwhelming, and you begin a grief process that can be off and on until you and your spouse finally come to the economic aspect of divorce. Then as you begin dividing your possessions and assets, you begin grieving again. You feel a mixture of sadness and anger as you and your spouse negotiate about who gets what. If divorce was your idea, you may also feel guilty and agree to give your spouse some of the possessions that you wanted or needed for yourself.

Many years ago I knew a divorcing couple that was in conflict over the family TV. He complained that if she took it when she and their child moved out, he wouldn't have a TV. Never mind that he had a larger income than she did. The wife, out of guilt, left the TV for him and later bought one for herself and the child.

This is a classic example of a parent who puts their needs and feelings ahead of their child when they allow self-pity to rule their emotions.

If the divorce was not your idea, you will feel angry and cheated, because you are experiencing a dual loss - your marriage and part of your possessions. As you continue with the division of your possessions and begin the process of setting up separate homes, you are likely to feel a mixture of emotions. A sense of excitement about starting a new life, a sense of uncertainty about your financial future, and regret that your marriage didn't work.

The legal aspect of your divorce that involves filing with an attorney can be a difficult process if you are the leav-ee because you are likely to feel victimizied about the financial changes of divorce. If you are the person who filed, you may again experience guilt. One very important thing about dealing with your divorce process is the attorney. Make sure that he or she follows your wishes about the distribution of income and property that you and your spouse have agreed on if it is a collaborative divorce.

Howewver, it would also be to your benefit to listen to the attorney's advice if they think there are better arrangements about the division of property that you didn't think of. You don't want to wake up 5 years later to discover that you could have gotten a cash settlement for certain belongings that you left with your ex spouse. One last note of caution: if your spouse has relatives in the judicial system, such as an attorney or a judge, PLEASE tell your attorney. I have known people who got a raw deal because of this circumstance.

Now that the dust has settled on the emotional,economic and legal aspects of your divorce, you and your ex spouse can now begin to focus on learning to be collaborative co-parents to your children. Keep in mind that your children are going through the loss of the two-parent home, and they feel abandoned, fearful and anxious.

They worry that if one parent left, the other one can too, and they would be alone. They worry about the financial circumstances, and about the living arrangements. If they have had to change schools due to relocation, that is also accompanied by a feeling of loss.

The best thing you can do to help them feel secure is to reassure them that mom and dad both love them and they will see the other parent regularly. Reassure them that they can call the other parent between visits. As parents it is paramount that you avoid saying anything derogatory about each other. Your child is 50% of each of you, so any criticism of either parent can be taken as a criticism of them.

Do your very best to maintain a consistent and predictable visitation schedule. In order for a child to make a healthy adjustment to divorce, they need this stability. Whatever issues may be going on with you as an adult, you must learn to set them aside temporarily in favor of your children's needs and well-being.

You can create a successful collaborative divorce if you follow these guidelines and apply them consistently to your life.

For more good information on other experiences of divorce, visit my

Author's Bio: 

I have a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology, have taught divorce recovery at a community college for ten years,and have worked with families in substance abuse prevention. I have also been blogging and writing articles on the different experiences of divorce for seven months.