7/18/2015 DIVORCE IS SORT OF LIKE DEATH. Quick review of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of dying (also known as 5 stages of grief and loss)

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1 UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF GRIEF AND LOSS IN DIVORCE LITIGATION Renee Dietchman, MA, LP Jill M. Katz DIVORCE IS SORT OF LIKE DEATH Quick review of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of dying (also known as 5 stages of grief and loss) From On Grief and Grieving by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler,

2 Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of dying 1) Denial - this is not happening to me Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of dying 2) Anger - How dare God/the universe/life circumstances do this to me Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of dying 3) Bargaining - Just let me live to see my son graduate/my daughter married & I'll start going to church, change my diet, do healthier things if I can have a little more time 2

3 Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of dying 4) Depression - I can't face this, I can't put my family through this, why do anything? Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of dying 5) Acceptance - I'm ready. I don't want to struggle anymore (for some people I'm ready to go on to the next stage be that heaven, peace, reincarnation, whatever) Experience of hospice is to help someone die as peacefully as possible. These are a few of the experiences that terminal patients and their families may have: 3

4 Experience of hospice is to help someone die as peacefully as possible. These are a few of the experiences that terminal patients and their families may have: Meeting with a social worker/therapist May have a psychotropic medication prescribed Discover/Re-discover religion. Experience of hospice is to help someone die as peacefully as possible. These are a few of the experiences that terminal patients and their families may have: May blame others for their illness May have thoughts of "if only May withdraw from family Anger Experience of hospice is to help someone die as peacefully as possible. These are a few of the experiences that terminal patients and their families may have: May have co-occurring illnesses Hopefully come to terms with their death or other loss Family goes through similar process 4

5 IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT NOT EVERYONE GOES THROUGH EACH STAGE Denial Depression Acceptance IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT PEOPLE INVOLVED MAY GO THROUGH DIFFERENT STAGES AT DIFFERENT TIMES IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT PEOPLE MAY GO THROUGH STAGES OUT OF SEQUENCE OR MAY BOUNCE BACK AND FORTH 5

6 SOME COMMON DIAGNOSES/CO- OCCURRING ILLNESSES OR BEHAVIORS RELATED TO DEATH/DIVORCE May occur at any time and may complicate process of divorce Depression Insomnia SOME COMMON DIAGNOSES/CO- OCCURRING ILLNESSES OR BEHAVIORS Anxiety Eating disorders Substance abuse Suicidal Homicidal SOME COMMON DIAGNOSES/CO- OCCURRING ILLNESSES OR BEHAVIORS Trust diminished Passive or passive-aggressive traits Women may experience more stress due to economic strain Men tend to have more difficulty with emotional adjustment 6

7 SOME COMMON DIAGNOSES/CO- OCCURRING ILLNESSES OR BEHAVIORS Men and Women who develop shared parenting strategies generally achieve resolution/satisfaction faster than noncompliant, combative partners in a divorce STAGES OF DIVORCE Shock & Denial/Pain & Guilt - experience different for initiator and non-initiator Initiator has gone through much of this for a long period Non-initiator has just been "slapped in the face Counseling/Religion Client Behaviors Denial Respondent not contacting lawyer until Answer is almost due. Not wanting to file a counter-petition Reluctance to provide documents/answer discovery Wants to continue/begin therapy Guilt offering settlements significantly detrimental to self Pushing to settle quickly 7

8 Practice Tips Referral to individual therapist or clergy Clearly define the legal process Clearly define your expectations of client Ensure pleadings protect the client Name change Filing the Counter-Petition Explain that the parties can always dismiss their petitions if they reconcile SETTLEMENT MAY NOT BE POSSIBLE WHEN CLIENT IS IN THIS STAGE IF CLIENT HAS NOT INTERNALIZED THE REALITY OF THE DIVORCE. STAGES OF DIVORCE Anger - more lashing out towards other party happens, may see friends and family starting to take sides or be coerced into supporting one spouse or the other. Anger is often the emotion that covers other emotions such as fear and sadness. Critical period Both parties beginning to look at reality of change Exacerbated by reaction of children. Client Behaviors Emptying bank accounts Excessive or extravagant spending using spouse s credit card Preventing contact with the children Excessive calls/texts to spouse, spouse s work and spouse s family Social Media attacks Demanding unrealistic division of property or parenting time (often punitive) 8

9 Practice Tips Referral to individual therapist or clergy Clearly define the legal process Clearly define your expectations of client File motions to protect client from the behaviors of the other spouse if necessary Reassure the client that anger is normal, and explain the potential negative impact of behaviors SETTLEMENT IN THIS STAGE MAY BECOME VOLATILE Allowing expressions of anger may lead to productive settlement STAGES OF DIVORCE Bargaining - if we do "this" this situation will resolve itself.or not. Pre-litigation Litigation begins and bargaining takes on a whole new face involving factors such as: economic concerns custody concerns blame Expect more volatility in emotion, emotional dysregulation Client Behaviors Client may not want to discuss settlement rather may want to make offers or agreements toward reconciliation. Client may want to accept offers of settlement as a way to win back the affections of the spouse 9

10 Practice Tips Discuss the client s reasoning for offers of acceptance or willingness to accept potentially inequitable settlements. Be careful of quick decisions to accept settlements schedule appointments for client a couple of days after a quick decision to accept a settlement offer STAGES OF DIVORCE Depression, Reflection, Loneliness - EVERYTHING is changing and out of my control. Both initiator and non-initiator experience this Likely to be overly sensitive Intense preoccupation with her/his own feelings Difficulty concentrating Parenting may diminish Client Behaviors Multiple calls from client in a day s from client in the middle of the night Noticeable weight loss/gain Client may forget appointments or arrive late to appointments Client s appearance may appear disheveled or unkempt Client may have difficulty proving documents or answering discovery 10

11 Practice Tips Referral to individual therapist or clergy Clearly define the legal process Clearly define your expectations of client Suggest Client become involved in social activities different than what they participated in during marriage. Use positive and supportive language with client. CLIENT MAY NOT EFFECTIVELY ADVOCATE FOR SELF DURING SETTLEMENT CLIENT MAY WANT TO PLEASE LAWYER IN THE PROCESS. CLIENT MAY NOT FEEL WORTHY OF ASKING FOR MORE THAN THE SPOUSE IS OFFERING. STAGES OF DIVORCE Acceptance & Hope - this is happening/has happened and I'll survive. Parties may have more "good days" Still susceptible to triggers Parties start planning preparing Life moves on - for better or worse as some partners get "stuck" most often at Anger or Depression, Reflection, Loneliness Client Behaviors Client s appearance is often back to normal Client responds timely to lawyer s request for documents/discovery requests Discusses potential settlement in realistic terms Communication with spouse becomes more businesslike regarding bills, property and parenting Communication with lawyer more legal than emotional 11

12 Practice Tips Client will generally be in the best emotional position to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement Lawyer must understand that this stage may be the best time to settle, but will need to be aware that client s emotional need to settle may curtail the client s ability to say no to a settlement they may not see as fair later. Safety Issues Each stage carries safety risks and concerns A Lawyer should always be aware of threats to and by the client Lawyers are not therapists but need to be aware that extreme emotions may cause a client to harm themselves, their spouse, their children, other adults A Lawyer should ensure that the client has a safety plan A Lawyer should establish safety protocols in their office 12

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