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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.

Controversial Mandatory Joint Custody Law Passes House Panel

Potential new legislation, aiming to drastically change Michigan child custody laws, recently passed the Michigan House Judiciary Committee. We recently shared introductory information on the bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Jim Runestad, R- White Lake. Now that it has passed the Judiciary Committee, the bill still must make it through the full State House, Senate, and be signed by Governor Snyder to become law.

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Be Careful on Social Media

In my last blog, the three of us take turns; I talked about how it is possible to learn a lot about opposing parties in divorce cases by using social media. It is a dilemma for us and our clients as to how much time and effort (i.e. attorney fees) to use in cases researching social media. We try to have a discussion with our clients regarding the pros and cons of investing time in that issue. The flip side of that question is what social media content says about our clients. Read more

Social Media and Other Information Sources

In a recent article in The Lawyer’s Weekly, a magazine for attorneys, talked about the terms of social media and other means to collect information. The article was not focused only on family law, but since our firm specializes in family law it is the area that our firm spent its’ time to discussing. Read more

Are Court Decisions Final?

As a general principle, when cases are settled and judgments are entered, they are final, except for some fairly limited rights of appeal. Most people are of the opinion that if you do not like what a judge does you simply can appeal their decision. Usually, you have to do more than just show that the judge may be wrong. Often, the Court of Appeals will only reverse the trial judge if there was an “abuse of discretion.”  The courts are even more reluctant to set aside a settlement. Read more