Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Four Divorces

It has been said that people go through several different divorces – emotional, social, physical and legal. The couple that was once connected in a million different ways now has to learn how to untangle.

The first three apply whether the couple was legally married or not.
Even though divorce only applies to people who are legally married, there may be legal issues that arise when unmarried couples split up, as well.

Emotional divorce occurs when the couple is no longer working as a team, when they no longer work together as a unit. There may be domestic strife or not, but it is an act of distancing from each other.

Social divorce
can be summed up, as one friend put it, as “who gets custody of the friends?”
Your family, friends, and other close people may take sides, or encourage one partner or another to take certain steps.

The physical divorce is perhaps the most obvious – when the couple (or one partner) physically moves out from the shared living space.

The legal divorce is the court’s dissolution of the marriage contract. It is, in effect, another contract, assigning rights and responsibilities to each partner. For couples who were married, this is the actual divorce order. For unmarried couples, this may result in a custody and visitation order, a child support order, or a civil court order regarding the division of property.

All of these processes can take months or even years. Breakups never happen overnight. Often one partner is moving faster than another – it may even take the second partner by surprise. This may cause extra friction in the relationship, but understanding these different facets of separation can help.

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