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What Are the Emotional Stages of Divorce?


Getting divorced can take an emotional toll on everyone involved. The emotions that you experience can be complex. You may feel regret, sadness, relief, anxiety, anger, grief and many other emotions in rapid succession or all at once. Learning how to cope with your emotions in a healthy way can help you let go and embrace your future. Learn the five emotional stages of divorce to be better prepared for what comes next.

Blame and Disillusionment

Before the idea of divorce is even brought up, you may experience the emotions of blame and disillusionment within your marriage. If you and your spouse have been fighting, you may blame your spouse for your present problems and feel depressed, anxious or stressed. You are dealing with the disillusionment and disappointment that comes with the realization that your relationship is not what you had hoped. This stage can be accompanied by feelings of helplessness, shock and fear of the unknown.


After disillusionment often comes denial – your mind and heart rejecting the thought that your marriage is over. This stage is especially likely if you are not the spouse that initiated the divorce. Denial offers the illusion of safety, as it allows you to distance yourself from reality. If the idea of getting divorced is too overwhelming, you may find yourself in denial that it is happening at all.

But denial cannot last forever. Eventually, you need to face your divorce so that you can accept it and move forward. It is especially important not to let your denial last so long that you miss your chance to respond to a divorce petition that has been filed by your spouse. Ignoring the petition will not make the divorce go away; instead, it can lead to the court granting your spouse a default divorce – meaning the court will approve all of your spouse’s desired terms.

Anger and Resentment

Next comes anger and/or resentment toward your ex-spouse. You may feel betrayed, wronged and angry with how he or she is behaving, as well as anger toward “all women” or “all men” in general. In a divorce case, the anger stage may come on suddenly – such as after you have tried and failed to express your feelings of frustration or discontent to your ex-spouse. Being unable to communicate your feelings can lead to a major blowout where your anger emerges all at once. As difficult as it can be to deal with strong feelings of anger, do your best not to show it around your kids. Remember that your children are dealing with the divorce as well.

Mourning or Grief

The next stage, grief or mourning, may come after you decide to get divorced. You could experience a period of mourning where you say farewell to your relationship, the life you used to lead and the person you were during your marriage. You may feel down, depressed, hopeless or overwhelmed about the future. How long this stage lasts depends on the person. If your depression feels debilitating, seek help. Lean on your friends and loved ones as a support system. Consider professional counseling for you and your children, as well.

Acceptance and a New Beginning

The final stage is split into two parts: learning to accept the end of your marriage and focusing on your bright future ahead. Most people find peace in this final stage. Rather than denying you’re getting divorced or being angry with your ex-spouse, you are ready to embrace the change with hope for the future. While some negative emotions may still appear in this stage, you are no longer consumed by them. You are ready to reclaim your life and welcome the next phase with an open mind.

Partnering with an experienced divorce lawyer can help you minimize the emotional toll of a divorce on you and your family as much as possible. Contact The Law Office of Stephen Vertucci, LLC to speak to an attorney about your Fort Collins divorce case today.

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