Three Divorces In One

by Traci Hoppes, Family Law Attorney
Law & Mediation Firm of Klueck & Hoppes


Family law attorneys are hired to help people obtain a legal divorce. However, most divorce clients are really going through three different “divorces” at the same time:

Traci Hoppes

1.  Emotional Divorce

The emotional divorce begins with the decision to separate and ends when both spouses accept the fact that the relationship is over. Psychologists who have studied divorce believe that ending a relationship means going through a grieving process similar to grieving the death of a loved one. Borrowing from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s studies of the grief process, psychologists have identified certain emotional stages that everyone grieving the loss of a relationship goes through:

  • denial and shock
  • bargaining
  • anger
  • acceptance

An awareness of where you and your spouse each are in the emotional divorce is essential. An out-of-control emotional divorce can cause a lot of problems with the process.

There are so many financial implications to divorce including the date of separation. It is best to work with expert divorce attorneys and financial professional on your side.

2.  Financial Divorce

In the financial divorce, the property and debts accumulated during the relationship get divided up. The income used to support one household will have to somehow stretch to pay for two.

Ideally, the couple will find a way to divide things up that works for both of them without spending a ton of money on lawyers’ fees and court costs. But, this will require cooperation. If the couple is unable to cooperate, they will find it hard to make the financial decisions needed to complete the divorce process.

Taking your divorce disputes in front of a judge is not always the best method of reaching a satisfactory solution. Consider the Collaborative Divorce approach instead.

3.  Legal Divorce

The legal divorce can be the simplest of the three divorces, or it can be the most difficult. There are waiting periods and other formalities to be observed. Certain documents need to be completed and filed with the court, and eventually a judge will sign the divorce judgment.

As long as legal requirements are followed, and especially if the case is uncontested with no disagreements that the court needs to resolve, getting a divorce does not need to be all that complicated or expensive. But if the couple gets stuck in emotional or financial conflict, the legal divorce can become a long and expensive battle.

A Better Way…

If a couple wants to settle things but is having trouble doing so on their own, Collaborative Divorce offers tools to help a couple communicate at a time when things between them may be at an all-time low. With the help of trained professionals, the couple can assess where they stand in the process for each of the three divorces, identify the decisions that need to be made together, and then make those decisions in a way that takes into account what needs to happen and is best for both of them.