Helping a friend through a divorce

At Grant Stephens Family Law in Cardiff we are not only concerned with the legal aspects of divorce, but we also support and advise our clients on all aspects of their lives at this difficult time.

We hear many stories of how our clients’ friends have been supportive, or not so supportive, during the process. If your friend is going through a divorce, then it is vital you are there for them, but knowing what to do and how to help is very difficult. Here are a few tips so you can provide the best possible support.

Be available

Being available to your friend whenever they want to talk, or let of steam will help them to feel a lot less alone. If your friend wants to meet at an inconvenient time, don’t make them feel as if they are hassling you, either see them and give them your full attention, or rearrange. Ensure you fridge has an ample supply of wine or beer chilled and ready.

Don’t be pushy

Company is a real therapy when you are going through a difficult time, but don’t take it personally if your friend withdraws. They may want to spend a couple of weeks sitting in their pyjamas, eating takeaways and not cleaning the house. Don’t force them to socialise. If you are worried a phone call or email will be appreciated, but don’t go over and insist on a night out if they don’t want to.

Treat everything as confidential

Your friend may have openly told you all the graphic details of arguments, affairs and finances, but that does not give you any right to tell anyone else. When all the intensity subsides and they are ready to move on, they won’t want everyone in your social circle and beyond to still be talking about the stories.

Limit your advice

As long as your friend has good legal support, try and limit your technical advice. Every divorce case is different and even if you have first hand experience of divorce, any advice you offer can be distracting to their individual circumstances. Similarly, we always advise friends not to come along to meetings with our clients. If your friend wants you there, by all means come along, but wait outside and then go for a coffee afterwards.

Be sensitive about money

No matter how wealthy a person is, a divorce will always hit their financial situation, as they are down to one income and have to divide their once shared assets. Always keep this in mind. Whenever you suggest doing something, make sure it isn’t expensive. If you go round to their house, don’t loudly remark on why they haven’t switched the heating on.

If it is obvious that your friend is struggling financially, find a good balance of being supportive without patronising. Taking your friend’s kids a couple of new toys when you go over is a nice treat, insisting on paying for an extravagant family outing is awkward.

Prepare for a roller coaster

As your friend goes through the divorce, be prepared to ride the roller coaster with them and change your reactions appropriately. One minute you may be sitting with them dishing out the tissues and chocolate in equal quantities, the next you may find you’ve been booked in for a sky dive. Your friend will have to rediscover themselves as an individual, they may seem like they are changing and this may be disconcerting, but if they are really your friend you will still love them anyway.

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