When a person considers a divorce, he or she might seek out advice from friends or co-workers who have been through a divorce. Is that a good idea? Do divorced people give good advice?
Recently, Bill Flanigin wrote a blog post on Huffington Post on this topic, and it is definitely worth a read. He suggests that most divorced people who give advice do so in the wrong way, no matter how good the intentions, because they only know about their divorce, and all divorces are different.
Mr. Flanigin makes a good point. Every divorce is different. Even if your friend has a similar income, two children like you and lives on your street, your friend still will have a different experience. No couple has a mirror image marriage of another couple; each couple has their own issues, unique ups and downs and challenges. It is not easy to generalize from one experience to all divorces. One person may give glowing reports about an attorney, another nothing but trash talk. One person may say collaborative mediation is the way to go, and another person may say go to trial and get everything you can.
Why so much different advice?
Divorce is very personal, and each person reacts differently on an emotional level. Some spouses can work together in ending a relationship, some will hold on to anger long after the entry of the divorce decree. Some have large assets to protect, some have virtually no assets. Some say children are resilient, other says children never heal. If you ask for divorce advice from divorced people, you end up with a great deal of noise and you may feel more confused, more upset, overly confident or completely uninformed.
So, to people asking for divorce advice from divorced people, take what you hear with a heavy grain of salt. Understand that all divorces are different. Try and find out what worked well or poorly in every divorce story you hear.
And for those divorced people giving advice, try to remember that your experience may not translate well to someone else, and that what you could say could have significant weight on someone just thinking about the process. Try to talk honestly and carefully about what you went through, and stress that just because you had a certain experience it may not be that way for someone else.
The best advice about divorce comes from professionals – attorneys with years of experience handling family law, therapists with years of experience working with parents and children going through divorce.
If you have questions about divorce, contact us – we can help.