Divorce is more than a legal process.
For many divorcing couples, at least one of the parties comes to the process in an extreme state of upset that essentially creates an altered state of cognition. For such individuals their perspectives are colored exclusively by their reactions to the divorce, I call this divorce reaction THE FOG OF DIVORCE. This situation is not unusual for the person who initially experiences the divorce as an abandonment.
I make this observation not as a mental health professional but as the legal professional of the process to explain some of the dimensions of the divorce experience in the mediation arena.
It is this awareness which must be managed in the settlement process in order to assist the parties in achieving reasonable accommodations ….
Here is a short synopsis of one of my typical cases where I acted as a mediator.
John and Jane have been married for 18 years. John was the stay at home parent for the parties two children who were ages 15 and 11 at the time of the divorce.
Jane was the was the traditional working spouse whose annual income was over $500,000.
The parties relationship grew in different directions and the marriage suffered an irreparable breakdown.After about nine months of working with a marriage counselor Jane decided that she wanted a divorce.
Both John and Jane had shared interests in positive parenting of their children and they both said they wanted a functional post-divorce family structure.
In working with these clients, I began to notice that John was filtering many points of the parties negotiation through one primary perspective “distrust” – DISTRUST was John’s FOG OF DIVORCE and became the substance of his demonizations of Jane.
No matter what settlement idea was introduced, John’s first response was rejection because his evaluation led him to the conclusion that the arrangement benefited Jane more than him. Often if John couldn’t express a specific objection , his rejection was explained with the following global response” this doesn’t feel right for me”.
It was obvious that John’s perspective was informed by his divorce fog- DISTRUST and needed to be restructured outside this contamination to help the parties reach their accommodations.
This circumstance clearly impacted the tone of the negotiations. Working through this contamination became a primary focal point in settling parenting arrangements,support issues and asset divisions.
For the divorce professional it is vital to manage the FOG OF DIVORCE and not allow it to derail the settlement process by turning it into a nuclear contamination – i.e litigation.
Even though the settlement process goes forward and the legal process begins and ends, until the fog clears there can be no real transformation in the parties’ post divorce relationship which the entire family needs to be able to positively share their futures.
I have found that the FOG OF DIVORCE can take several years to fully resolve. The resolution happens separately from the legal process. Actually, clearing the FOG OF DIVORCE is clients’ work and is unique to each person.
I would like to hear about any ‘divorce fogs’ you have experienced or been told about..so I can share with others.