Choosing Sides: The Impact of Divorce on Friendships

West Michigan residents tend to be very social, developing strong relationships with people in and out of work, organizational, or religious environments. As social beings, almost all people want to feel like they are part of a group, and friendships provide the natural support system that goes with being an accepted part of a larger whole.

Divorce proceedings can create stress for the people on the outside of the relationship as well as the divorcing spouses. The process often pulls friends and acquaintances into the middle, forcing people who had allegiances with both partners into the uncomfortable position of choosing who they will continue to socialize with when divorce proceedings are complete.

People who choose to remain friends with adversarial divorcing spouses may find it difficult to maintain an allegiance with both. These people may find themselves caught in one partner’s struggle for information about the other, or victims of one’s jealousy regarding the other’s relationship.

Psychology Today reports that married couples rarely stay friends with either divorced partner, and divorced singles rarely remained friends with a strong couple. The married relationship often reminds the divorced individual of what they had lost and creates feelings of remorse or depression.

For couples, remaining friends with a divorced partner is often identified as the source of their own marital strife. New lives, new situations, and new opportunities can be attractive to one or both spouses who are having doubts about their own situation, and they may decide to abandon their friendship as a defensive measure.

Divorcing couples need to remember that people are not an asset to be divided, like furniture or capital. Friends of both partners may naturally choose to remain as part of one spouse’s life or another, but putting them in the middle or demanding they pick a side will almost certainly drive them away.

Friends are natural support systems and few situations create more stress or challenges than divorce. In times of need, we all want a shoulder to cry on or strong back to help us move forward. However, it is important to let other people find their own way through your divorce and come out wherever they feel safest.

That may mean they follow the other partner, keep their distance, or decide to simply disappear. In any case it’s best to let them stand where they are the most comfortable, even if it means the loss of a best friend.

Divorce is difficult, but an experienced divorce attorney can help. Please contact us at Johnsen Wikander in Grand Rapids with your questions and allow us to be your support system during your time of need.

Cohabitation After Divorce: A Growing Trend

In most modern marriages both spouses work to support their family and to move toward common goals such as children’s college expenses, a larger house or retirement. During marriage, most costs associated with housing, cars, and other resources are shared between husband and wife.

Aside from the emotional impact, divorce, whether it takes place in West Michigan or anywhere else, can create another layer of hardship when both partners suddenly find themselves house or apartment hunting, or in need of another car. The resulting financial challenges can add to the stress of an already difficult situation.

These days, many couples are choosing to live together after divorcing for several reasons. Children have the largest effect on strategic and financial decisions during, and after, a divorce. Staying close together, or even under the same roof, to provide parental continuity has led many couples to simply sleep in separate bedrooms in their existing home once divorce proceedings are finalized.

Real estate also plays a major role in the decisions made after separation. When a house or property has been purchased as an investment, or real estate has dramatically decreased in value, it may make more sense to live under the same roof until the market bounces back or a project home is completed.

Another reason couples will live together is to prevent upheaval. A single parent may not be able carry the costs associated with the current family home. However, if both parents continue to shoulder the mortgage, utilities, and taxes together they can ensure their children stay in the same home and the same school with their established friends and teachers.

In many cases, custody or visitation arrangements mean the children are packed up and shipped between their parent’s separate houses. This can result in two sets of belongings, and even friends. When spouses choose to stay under the same roof, the effects of the divorce on the children may again be reduced by eliminating the need for children to shuffle back and forth.

This situation can also impact fighting over custody and over who gets to see the children on which night or weekend. When the children of divorced couples stay put and both parents come to them, the situation’s impact is less severe.

Cohabitation after divorce is by no means an easy solution. Aside from the agreements put in place by the spouses and their respective divorce lawyers, rules and boundaries must be set. This is not a simple roommate situation, especially when old emotions resurface or one former partner begins dating.

Like any other situation, cohabitation after divorce has pros and cons. It may not be possible for everyone, but it could provide an easier solution to financially challenged partners and may allow parents to spend more time with their children.

Cohabitation may not be for everyone, but there are plenty of success stories about parents who have amicably divorced and made cohabitation work. The children of divorced parents appear to reap the most benefits, but it could provide a better financial and structural solution for the parents as well.

Options aside from litigation include mediation and Collaborative divorce. An experienced divorce attorney can help you find the best path forward, so please contact Johnsen Wikander for a free consultation today.

Social Media: A Leading Factor in Divorce

In the digital age, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have become a significant factor in divorce cases. It has often been cited as the direct cause of marriage problems by one or both marital partners. Any relationship can be impacted by suspicion, disconnected behavior and jealousy, but when the source of trouble is the computer in the next room, removing that source is difficult.

Grand Rapids marriages are just as likely to be affected by social media as any others. Some of the reasons behind social media driven divorces are obvious, such as interaction with old love interests. Although most connections with old girl or boyfriends may be innocent enough, there is always the chance that a spark may appear.

Old Friends, New Links

Even when a renewed friendship is completely innocent, it may not appear that way to a marital partner. Divorce lawyers may also review social media content for evidence in a divorce case. Inside jokes and old sayings can be seen as flirtatious, or can be taken out of context. Social media activity with an old flame can often lead to either physical or emotional connections and could be viewed as emotional infidelity or cheating.

Twitter, Instagram, and especially Facebook also contribute to marital instability in other ways. Social media has been shown to trigger some of the same effects in the brain as narcotics, which may lead to addictive behaviors.

Too Much Time on My Hands

The snowy West Michigan winters can drive people to look for entertainment indoors, and the Internet provides endless distraction. However, too much time spent on social media, especially Facebook, may leave a marital partner feeling less important or ignored.

Shared pictures have also been a source of trouble for many married couples. Inappropriate photos that appear in a partner’s timeline can lead to suspicion and distrust, especially when they come from an old love interest. Even if the pictures don’t appear in a husband or wife’s Facebook timeline, rumors and misconceptions can arise from the content when it appears in a mutual friend’s account.

Believe Half of What You See

Marital issues can also arise over mistrust when one spouse uses social media to monitor the other’s behavior. Fights over social media have become commonplace for many couples, often caused by use or misuse by either spouse and how that activity is interpreted by their partner.

It is easy to take what you see or read out of context and jump to conclusions that are not actually true. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have taken over as communication mediums, and even news platforms, but you must consider the source, or the situation, before buying into the story they tell.

Let us help with any questions or concerns. For more information or advice please contact Johnsen Wikander today.

 

Stress Management and Divorce

The decision to divorce is usually reached after the most difficult period in a marriage. During this time, it is important to pay attention to your own well-being to help maintain clarity and manage the stress that accompanies the end of a relationship.

Even a mutually accepted decision to separate is accompanied with stressful tasks, such as financial and property distribution, and child visitation decisions. Changing bank account and credit card information can disrupt work and create additional layers of complexity, all of which may lead to more stress.

Children Know

Children are far more aware of divorce-related stress in their parents than they are often given credit for. Heated arguments, unexplained absences, and stormy relationships do not go unnoticed, often leading to feelings of guilt for children caught in the middle of their parent’s divorce proceedings.

It is important to maintain a clear head through difficult times, which can prevent snap decisions or heated arguments over less important details. Life must go on for parents and children alike, making stress management an important part of the divorce process.

Balance the difficulties of divorce with uplifting activities to help reduce stress. Here are some ideas to try. Go alone to recharge, or take your kids and use the time to help them through their own divorce related challenges.

Find Distractions

Go to the beach. It’s hard to beat the sound of crashing waves and the feeling of sand between your toes. Michigan has some of the best beaches in the world so why not try a walk along the water’s edge. The beach is even beautiful in the winter when the ice chunks pile up along the shore.

See a movie or read a book. There is nothing like an exciting storyline and strong characters to provide a distraction. A good book can transport the reader to beautiful, distant, and even imaginary places where the burdens are carried by someone else.

Get Away

Take a day or weekend trip. Michigan has so many incredible destinations within easy reach. The renaissance taking place in Detroit has made it an attractive destination for food and entertainment. Chicago is only a few hours away too, with Michigan Avenue shopping or the city’s world-class museums all within walking distance from most hotels.

Experience local culture. It’s often easy to overlook the closest attractions. Think like a tourist and visit some of the local tourist draws such as Art Prize in Grand Rapids or the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo. Or, visit one of the many wonderful exhibits at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

Let Us Help

The end of any relationship weighs heavily on everyone involved. Please call or email us today and let Johnsen Wikander help reduce the stress of your divorce.

Divorce and Well Being

A study from the National Institutes of Health and other evidence shows that divorce may be necessary for the wellbeing of the individuals involved. There are times when the relationship between adults is frequently in conflict, and that can spill over into larger familial relationships, having a potentially negative impact on children, as well as the personal well-being of each spouse. Read more

Divorce Rate Goes Down, Acceptability Goes Up

Contrary to common belief, the national divorce rate has been falling, reaching its lowest point in decades. At the same time, the percentage of U.S. adults who say that divorce is morally acceptable is at a new high, reaching 73% according to this summer’s Gallup Poll. Read more

Joint Custody Bill Debate Hits Grand Rapids

Child custody matters are incredibly sensitive during a divorce. As divorce attorneys, we know there can enormous benefits to parents reaching agreement through Collaborative Divorce, but sometimes litigation is necessary. A judge’s custody determining is often challenged later on as life situations change and parents’ views on their children’s best interests vary.

Proposed Michigan legislation, however, would change the system and create a presumptive 50/50 child custody split. House Bill 4691, the Michigan Shared Parenting Act, passed a House Panel earlier this summer and lawmakers are now trying to send it to the house floor. Recently, a town hall was held in Grand Rapids to invite community discussion on the bill. Read more

Uncontested Divorce: What You Need to Know

Our team follows a simple commitment with every person we meet: we are determined to find the best legal solution for your family. Each case is unique, so our first step will always be to get to know you and your story. If there are no unresolved or disputed issues between you and your spouse, an uncontested divorce may be an option. Here are the fast facts: Read more

Filing for Divorce? Do These Things First.

Marriages dissolve for an infinite number of reasons, and our team of divorce attorneys hears something new every day. While divorce rates are on a downward trend, it remains a reality for many couples. If your marriage is headed towards divorce, there are several things you should do before filing papers.

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Keep the Fireworks in the Sky

Families across West Michigan recently spent a long weekend celebrating the Fourth of July. Independence Day is one of the American traditions most deeply rooted in family, friends and celebration.

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