Ways to remain a good friend to both parties in divorce
Written by Craig Cherney

Ways to remain a good friend to both parties in divorce

A couple going through a divorce splits everything: finances, property, debts and sometimes even friends and family. It can be complicated to remain a good friend to both parties in divorce situations.

After her brother divorced, Sharon sent a holiday greeting card to her former sister-in-law. Sharon’s brother was furious about it during the holidays and into the new year. He told his sister she was “disloyal.” However, his ex-wife was her friend long before the two were married. How can you be a friend to both parties in divorce without feeling disloyal?

Can You Be a Friend to Both Parties in Divorce?

In a traditional divorce, the attorneys work hard to divide everything in a way that is “fair.” Sometimes the division of assets, debts, kids and pets leads to hurt and contention. Those negative feelings can extend into family and friendships.

Collaborative divorce helps couples work together to create an outcome that meets their family’s needs without going to court. This process can allow the couple to develop strong communication skills and flexibility that can help make situations after divorce easier to navigate. In addition to this benefiting their family, it can have a significant impact on friendships during and after a divorce as well.

Reinventing Relationships After Divorce

It’s possible to be a friend to both parties in divorce, but you may need to redefine your relationships. For a while, your divorcing friends need extra support and encouragement. They are living on emotional eggshells while they go through a difficult time. Put your own friendship needs on hold until your friends’ lives stabilize.

Before you get sucked into any conflict your friends may be experiencing, explain that you don’t want to take sides. Tell them you want to remain neutral because you value them both. Then suggest some boundaries. Here are three tips to be a friend to both parties in divorce:

  1. Encourage both friends to make healthy choices. A night on the town doesn’t have to be a drunken escapade. You can offer alternatives to take their mind off of things. Maybe a night of binging on their favorite reality TV show or signing up for a cooking class would benefit them. You can make healthy meals for them or invite your friend to a yoga class.
  2. Help in new ways. Offer weekly childcare or even kid pick-up and “taxi” service. Offer cleaning services, either your assistance or hiring someone for them. If one of them is having an especially bad day, you can order food online and have it delivered it to your friend’s home.
  3. Listen. Your friends may recap the divorce and what led to it repeatedly. They are trying to make sense out of something that feels out of control. Listening doesn’t mean you agree. You don’t have to endorse their opinions and you certainly don’t have to disrespect the ex-spouse. Just listen. You can validate their feelings and offer support without shaming either friend.

Collaborative Divorces Don’t “Take Sides”

A collaborative divorce allows separating couples to focus on their future and their family without going to court. It can also enable them to develop new communication skills that will serve them throughout their new life. With a little extra care, it’s possible to be a friend to both parties in divorce. Contact the professionals at Best Legal Choices if you or a friend would like to learn more about collaborative divorce.