Divorce presentation

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Medicine, Culture, and Spirituality Conference
September 9, 2011

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Divorce presentation

  1. 1. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness<br />An alternative to “divorce” <br />Michael J. Stewart, Esq. & Kathleen J. Stewart, Psy.D.<br />
  2. 2. “Divorce” or “Pursuit of Happiness”<br />Divorce attorney<br />In pursuit of happiness attorney<br />In pursuit of peace of mind attorney<br />Divorce can be a seismic event<br />The legal process itself is stressful and frustrating<br />How the attorney approaches the process will necessarily affect how his client approaches/feels about the process<br />
  3. 3. Emotions & Divorce<br />Guilt, anger, humiliation, and fear are universal<br />Secondary anxiety can undermine ability to concentrate at work, attend to children’s needs, etc.<br />Despondency, depression, and sadness are common<br />Studies show that in comparison to married men, men who go through a divorce or dissolution of a common-law marriage are 6 times as likely to suffer from depression in the following 2 years<br />Divorced/divorcing women are 3.5 times as likely to suffer depression in comparison to their married peers<br />
  4. 4. The first 2 years<br />It is essential that matrimonial attorneys do not underestimate the emotional fragility of their clients<br />The period that begins with the separation has been called “crazy time” by some<br />The first 2years present the most intense challenges…and also the opportunity for positive change<br />During this time, both genders experience increased physical difficulties and illness due to the effects of unusually intense stress on the immune system <br />
  5. 5. The first 2 years<br />Changes in self-concept during this period can be in a positive direction or may reveal dependence and vulnerabilities not previously seen<br />During this period, individuals display more psychological and behavioral problems than individuals in intact marriages<br />May be manifest as depression, anti-social behavior, anxiety, lower life satisfaction, higher stress, and higher rates of alcoholism<br />This period includes the most acute stress, rapid shifts in life circumstances, loss of familiarity, and changes in self-image<br />
  6. 6. The first 2 years<br />Individual’s self-control may be compromised, which is important for both the client and his/her attorney to recognize…luckily, there is a 90 day minimum wait time for parties to consent to a divorce<br />The individual typically seeks an attorney, either because they or their spouse have decided to initiate a divorce, during this period<br />Interestingly, the 2 year period is also important in the legal process<br />
  7. 7. The first 2 years<br />A 2 year separation is the minimum time for 1 party to unilaterally proceed with the divorce<br />These time restraints protect both parties and can be thought of as reflecting the different levels of emotions parties experience during a divorce<br />Finding 2 parties emotionally prepared to conclude a divorce 90 days after the initiation of a divorce proceeding is rare<br />Typically, whether the individual is the initiator or noninitiatoris reflected in their emotional experience and presentation during this time <br />
  8. 8. The first 2 years<br />The 2 year wait period allows the noninitiator to “catch up” in terms of mourning the relationship, mobilizing coping skills and his/her support network, adjust to changes, etc.<br />It also allows the initiator to be legally divorced after 2 years, regardless of whether or not the noninitiator agrees<br />
  9. 9. Guilt, Fault, & who “wins”?<br />As previously stated, guilt is an emotion typically experienced by both divorcing parties<br />Oftentimes, individuals feel it is their fault they are divorcing<br />But…fault is no longer an issue in terms of the legal preceedings<br />Even without the issue of fault, the way divorce plays out legally is an adversarial process<br />
  10. 10. Guilt, Fault, & who “wins”?<br />Between 97 and 99% of all divorces settle prior to trial, but there is still preparation for trial<br />For most divorcing couples the legal process of divorce involves the unique experience of preparing for trial and then attempting to negotiate a settlement<br />A trial involves winning and losing, while settlement requires cooperation and negotiation…how the attorney approaches both of these may set the emotional tone that will remain throughout the process<br />If we’re thinking about winning and losing, what is the “prize”?<br />
  11. 11. Future focus<br />Despite the adversarial nature of the legal process, there is something to be learned from its focus on the future<br />Throughout the legal process, attorney and client are preparing for future hearings, trial, etc.<br />The theme of preparation for the future is important for both divorcing parties<br />Preparing for the future takes the emphasis off past hurts and turns attention to upcoming tasks, goals, opportunities…and, hopefully, future happiness<br />
  12. 12. References<br />Davies, L., Avison, W., & McAlpine, D. (1997). Significant life experiences and depression among single and married mothers, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 59, 294-308.<br />Hemstrom, O. (1996). Is marriage dissolution linked to differences in mortality rates for men and women?, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58, 366-378.<br />Hetherington, E. & Kelly, J. (2002). For better or for worse: Divorce reconsidered. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc.<br />Hilton, J. & Kopera-Frye, K. (2004). Patterns of psychological adjustment among divorced custodial parents, Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 41 (3/4), 1-30. <br />Joung, I., Stronks, K., Van de Mheen, H., Van Poppel, F., Van Der Meer, J., & Mackenbach, J. (1997). The contribution of intermediary factors to marital status differences in self-reported health, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 59, 476-490.<br />Margulies, S. & Luchow, A. (1992). Litigation, mediation, and the psychology of divorce, The Journal of Psychiatry and Law, 20, 483-504. <br />
  13. 13. References<br />Portnoy, S. (2006). The psychology of divorce: A lawyer’s primer Part 1—The effects of divorce on adults, American Journal of Family Law, 20 (2), 73-79.<br />Power, C., Rodgers, B., & Hope, S. (1999). Heavy alcohol consumption and marital status: Disentangling the relationship in a national study of young adults, Addiction, 94 (10), 1477-1487.<br />Rotermann, M. (2007). Marital breakdown and subsequent depression, Health Reports, 18 (2),33-44. <br />Simon, R. & Marcussen, K. (1999). Marital transitions, marital beliefs, and mental health, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 40, 111-125.<br />Trafford, A. (1982). Crazy time. New York: Harper Perennial.<br />

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