How to Help a Friend Going Through Divorce

By Karen Pritchard

Principal Associate

It’s our job to help to guide our clients through a separation, and we like to think that we’re sympathetic, practical, and personable. But how, as a friend, can you best help someone through a separation?

  • Encourage them to get legal advice as soon as possible. Even if your friend hasn’t decided how they want things to pan out, getting advice early on about their options, ways to protect themselves financially, and in relation to the arrangements for any children, may help them to process their situation, and to feel better about their future. We can also identify any issues that should be addressed as soon as possible in case they should create a worse situation later on.
  • If you are worried that your friend is or may have been in an abusive relationship (which may perhaps continue even after separation), you may find it helpful to seek guidance from abuse charities, such as Women’s Aid, which have lots of helpful guidance on their websites.
  • Ask your friend what you can do to help. Do not just assume that you know what they need or what they would find helpful. They might need someone to talk to about their emotions, or more practical help such as with the school run or cleaning, or with meal preparation.
  • Avoid making derogatory comments about their ex, however tempting that might be. Your friend may feel that they cannot talk to you about the ‘good times’ as part of them processing the break-up. Worse still, your friend may get back together with their ex after you have made negative comments about them.
  • Be clear with yourself about the time and emotional space that you have for helping your friend. Helping a friend who is going through a separation can be taxing. It will be of benefit to both of you if you are clear about how much you can do to help. It may cause further damage to your friend if they have unrealistic expectations of you that are not met.
  • Know when to suggest that your friend gets professional help for their feelings or emotions. We like to think that we help with more than just the ‘legal stuff’. We help our clients with a range of emotions, from upset, panic, anger and, usually, to feeling more optimistic by the time that our involvement has ended. But we also need to remember that we are not professionally trained GPs, counsellors, or therapists, and we sometimes have to encourage our clients to get help from the right people.

For more information and to find out how we can help you, please contact us on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.