How to cope with divorce stress

Originally published on 17th May 2024 at 9:03 AM
Reading time: 5 mins
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Whilst a separation can represent positive change and a time for personal growth, it is also recognised as one of the most challenging life events you can experience. The emotional journey can be difficult to navigate, and it’s natural to experience negative feelings such as stress.

Learning to cope with stress is beneficial for your overall wellbeing and is important in helping you manage the practical side of separating, such as untangling your finances and co-parenting.

In this blog, we explore common things that might cause stress during your divorce and how to reduce these as you separate.

What is stress?

Stress is a natural psychological and physical response to daily challenges or difficult situations, for example, separation or divorce.

The psychological symptoms of stress can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Overwhelm
  • Low self-esteem

The physical symptoms of stress can include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Changes in appetite
  • Digestive issues
  • Increased heart rate

Behavioural symptoms of stress can include:

  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Procrastination
  • Nervous behaviours

Excessive stress can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness, making it difficult to cope with the demands of daily life. To read more about the physiological and psychological symptoms of stress and get help, visit the NHS website here.

Tip: Emotional freedom technique (EFT) is a tool which can help you to cope with the psychological and physical response to stressful experiences, such as separation and divorce. Listen to this episode of The Divorce Podcast for more information on this:

Why is divorce so stressful?

How much the emotional aspects of separating impact you depends on different factors, including your individual adaptability to change and external factors like the amicability of your separation.

If you’re able to communicate with your ex-partner safely and choose to separate amicably, the elements of the divorce process that are mostly within your control include:

  • The legal process
  • Making arrangements for your children
  • Untangling your finances
  • Your support network

Elements outside of your control include the emotions of others and their actions (ie. ex-partner, family and loved ones).

It’s normal for you and your ex-partner to be in different emotional places, especially if the decision to separate wasn’t mutual. If you’re the initiator, your separation will be slower if you rush the other person. Allow time for your partner to catch up and, if possible, get professional help with the ‘grieving and moving on’ process.

1. The legal process & untangling your finances

If you’re married or in a civil partnership and you choose to separate, you will need to go through the legal steps necessary to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership. A way of limiting any related stress is to choose a transparent, respectful and affordable process.

You can decide how you want to divide your money, property and debt together, through a ‘Kitchen Table Agreement’ or with the help of amicable. Our Divorce Specialists can help you to agree on a fair financial settlement through our Negotiation Service. Alternatively, you can try mediation, using solicitors, arbitration or, as a last resort, court proceedings.

Tip: Talking about money can feel overwhelming and stressful, but writing lists, creating a post-separation budget and getting help with these conversations will help reduce this.

2. Agreeing arrangements for your children & pets

Disagreements over arrangements for your children can add stress to your separation. You can reduce this by getting expert help from a Co-parenting Specialist.

amicable can help with:

  • Talking to your children about your separation
  • Agreeing on holidays and special occasion arrangements
  • Discussing and agreeing on all your arrangements through our Parenting Negotiation Service, which includes three sessions with an amicable Co-parenting Specialist

Some of our legal services include support with agreeing arrangements for your children, or if you have a specific issue to address you can purchase a one-hour joint advice consultation here.

3. Adjusting to your new lifestyle

In most cases, neither of you will be able to go on enjoying the same standard of living as you did during the relationship, as you’re dividing two incomes and your money and property. It’s rare that assets and income stretch that far.

This is an important point to get your head around and can often come as a shock. However, there can be many positives to adjusting to your new life situation. Listen to this podcast episode where Kate Daly was Kate was joined by financial planner, Louise Oliver and Divorce Coach Tosh Brittan to discuss adjusting to a new lifestyle post-separation.

4. Co-parenting

Another factor that can increase or create stress is around co-parenting. Often, it’s miscommunication or external voices that can cause tension. There are many free resources, such as The Divorce Podcast, webinars and guides to help. There’s also the amicable co-parenting app to manage the various aspects of your co-parenting.

Tip: Focus on creating a business-like relationship with your co-parent, where your children are the business. Keep communication brief, respectful and efficient.

5. Moving on and blended families

A new partner or family dynamic can add extra stress to a separation. This is often outside of your control, but how you respond is.

Listen to this episode of the podcast for Professor Lisa Doodson and Rebecca Jones expert advice on introducing new partners and navigating blended families:

Friends and family

Increased stress during or because of your separation may result in conflict or tension others. For example, your relationship with your family members and friends may suffer as because of the stress your’re under. Help your loved ones support you by sending them this guide.

Advice from friends and family, often out of love or sometimes fear, can subconsciously impact the amicability of your separation and your wellbeing. Surround yourself with those who are able to be supportive during this time.

How to cope with divorce stress

We’ve included tips in this blog to help you avoid unnecessary divorce stress by focusing on a more amicable process.

If you are finding that you cannot cope - here are some professionals who can help:

  • Mind – managing stress and building resilience
  • Every Mind Matters – get your free Mind Plan
  • Every Mind Matters – self-help cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques
  • Contact your local GP
  • Call 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment if you need help urgently, but it's not an emergency
  • Call 999 or go to A&E now if you or someone you know needs immediate help

How amicable can help

amicable help with all aspects of the legal and financial process of divorce and separation. We’re different to solicitors because we work with couples, and our fees are fixed fee, transparent, include VAT and can be spread through our flexible payment plans.

If it’s the thought of the legal process or untangling your finances that’s causing stress, speak to one of our Divorce Specialists and book yourself a free consultation below.

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Start your amicable divorce journey

Speak to an amicable Divorce Specialist to understand your options and next steps for untying the knot, amicably.

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