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How to navigate a friend’s divorce

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It may come as a complete shock or not surprise you at all but when someone announces the end of their marriage how do you navigate a friend’s divorce?

The tendency for most people is to try and get involved and fix the problem. However, most people do not want their problems fixed. Do you really know what the ‘fix’ is?

There is  an old Polish proverb that reads, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

It is very true!

It’s not a bad thing to be there for people, however, sometimes the best way to help people is to let them help themselves! Support your friend in their decisions but do not push them one way or another.

Often what they require is expert legal advice in a family law situation and a good recommendation to a divorce solicitor can be the best help anyone can give. At James Maguire & Co we often see clients who are very distressed, facing the end of their marriage, hand held by a close friend, gathering information but unable to absorb it. This is where the friend comes in. Be there, take in the information, make notes for when your friend is better able to listen.

If the boiler is broken or a circuit if fused do you attempt to fix it and put everyone at risk? No, most people recommend a good plumber and electrician.

But if a relationship is broken, everyone springs into “fix mode” but this may also look like you don’t have faith in their ability to take charge of the situation themselves; and it can cause a lot of undue stress in your own life.

To put it another way: if you aren’t going to be part of the solution, don’t be part of the problem. Love and support is often invaluable but comparing divorce situations is likely only to muddy the waters and not help. So how do you navigate a friend’s divorce?

If you are in this situation stop and ask yourself this:

  1. Does this divorce really involve me?
  2. If the divorce doesn’t really involve me, what is my motivation for getting involved?
  3. What will it cost me to get involved? We’re talking time, money, stress, etc.
  4. Can I really bring something to the table that will help all parties get to a better resolution?
  5. What will happen if I decline to participate in this divorce?

If the divorce doesn’t really involve you, it’s a good idea to think about why you are considering getting involved. Sadly, in a separation or divorce the motivation can be to obviously help but also to attempt to get the upper hand, emotionally at least. Invariably if that help is powered with emotion some of the short term tactics employed can often legally backfire later on, in more ways than one.

Don’t let your family member or friend’s separation or divorce become a circus. As with most things in life it is about team work; love and support and recommend a good divorce solicitor to help guide through what can be a truly stressful and anxious period in anyone’s life. The monkeys and clowns can often be put to bed easily rather than to run amuck.

For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: or telephone:

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