Experiencing the 7 Stages of Divorce: A Comprehensive Guide

Experiencing the Stages of Divorce: A Comprehensive Guide

Divorce can be a devastating and life-altering event in one’s life, giving financial, emotional, and spiritual strain. You know well that divorce can impact the children, too. The 7 stages of divorce have strong similarities to the five stages of grief. Individuals experience the stages of grief following the loss (such as the death of a close one). The stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Like phases of divorce, the stages of grief are a framework for understanding the emotional journey of individuals.

Hence, understanding the marriage dissolution and divorce stages can help you make knowledgeable decisions regarding your conflicting emotional journey and the legal aspect of separation. So, if you are facing the legal complexities regarding protecting your legal rights and interests during this emotional roller coaster ride, our family lawyers at The Complete can provide legal guidance while being your emotional ally.

Understanding the 7 Emotional Stages of Grief in a Divorce:

Stage 1: Denial

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You can think of denial as a protective sheet individuals put up when they first learn about divorce. As the name (denial) suggests, you deny and refuse many things happening. Spouses completely ignore warning signs of

separation, thinking that the other spouse is going through personal turmoil and the situation will be fine soon.

Actually, the individuals at the first stage of divorce feel totally bewildered and overwhelmed. Their mind struggles to accept the reality of it when the denial takes hold. They think about separation on a deepcognitive level, making it difficult for them to believe that relation will end.

In the denial phase, the people dealing with divorce manifest these specific symptoms.

● Shock

● Numbness

● Confusion

● Avoidance

● (Emotional) Shut Down

You start the marriage with a commitment of mutual love and respect, but it can be painful as you learn about separation. Denial is the natural response because you find it hard to accept the relationship is coming to an end.

Individuals get into frustration and isolation when they deny to collaborate on any future plan due to intense feelings and emotions. Thus, your relationship with your spouse worsens.

Stage 2: Fear

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Individuals dealing with a lot of anxieties and uncertainties in the separation process may develop an emotion called fear. In the second stage, the divorcing partners may manifest intense fears and worries related to changes that will happen. Questions like this may come into their minds: where will I live, and how will the assets be divided? What shall be the financial impact of divorce? How will friends and family treat me after divorce? The separating spouses can have these fears.

The separating spouses can have these fears.

• Fear of unknown

• Fear of financial insecurity

• Parental concerns phobia

• Terror of emotional isolation

• Fear of loss of identity

Fear is the natural part of this journey, but Identifying and curing it is crucial. If you are dealing with fear due to the separation process, you can seek support from your family and friends.

Likewise, you can treat fear through mental health professionals, psychiatrists, and support groups. They can really provide insightful ideas and practicable actions as coping mechanisms to address the fear ballooning due to the divorce process.

Stage 3: Anger

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After the denial and fear, the anger rises as a strong emotion during the martial separation. Feelings of betrayal, loss, failure, injustice, guilt, shame, grief, and isolation can be the product of divorce. Hence, all these feelings mixed up to bring the anger forward in both the spouses to express the pain associated with the end of a wedding.

Many individuals become angry at how things are occurring. While others who failed to stop the dissolution of marriage also agitate. It’s very common for spouses to experience anger when undergoing a divorce. Because if you express anger, it can prove dangerous to the case, and if you suppress anger for the long term, it can also be lethal. Both situations appear like a double-edged sword.

Anger during the breakup phase can be towards an ex-partner, family members, oneself, or the situation. Just put the calm in this stage because any anger or violent behavior of yours can create legal problems in terms of child custody and other matters.

Anger management is crucial in all stages of life, but more so in stage 2 of divorce. Because ascending anger can have some serious repercussions concerning the legal proceedings of the process.

Stage 4: Bargaining

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At number 4 comes the bargaining phase, and it is the negotiating stage. In this phase, a person may think about ways to save the relationship. During the negotiation phase, individuals can negotiate terms considering the last chance and hope to reconnect with the partner and fix the broken relations.

You question yourself and sometimes overthink the situations, too. You could approach your spouse or question the partner to save the marriage. This way, you can get rid of many other problems, such as blame, fear, anxiety, and shame.

The individuals may question themselves in this phase. Following are the (what-if) questions that can pop up into their mind.

● What if I had tried harder to save the relations?

● What if I change my approach?

● How can I make the situation better and in my favor?

● What if I never cheat again on my spouse?

While bargaining, many individuals also meet rejections when they summon the courage to heal their relationships. This situation could also cause isolation and other intense feelings.

Therefore, it is highly mandatory to approach this stage with realism, factuality, objectivity, and acceptance. And it will help you know that you cannot control everything, which can heal you from the trauma.

While the support from friends and family during this phase can be a breakthrough. They may advise you on some important problems concerning separation. For instance, what are your interests, and how will equitable divorce be helpful to you?

Stage 5: Depression

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In the depression stage, individuals during divorce may feel helpless and hapless. You may have shared great experiences, time, and years with your spouse. But, when you realize that no way has left to save the relationship with your spouse and your tomorrow will be different than what you have planned, the monster of depression comes. Individuals may feel despair, sadness, emptiness, and numbness.

Nerve-breaking depression for a spouse having children can be a little bit more difficult. In this case, you need to talk to their school educators and tell them the entire scenario. This way, you can normalize a situation a bit. Along with it, also get therapy counseling for them.

Further, the situation of depression can also lead to a loss of interest or pleasure in the activities that you used to enjoy once as partners. Depression in the event of marriage dissolution is normal and heals with time. But you cannot ignore your emotional and physical well-being. Therefore, you can take temporary medications to cope with depression. Or, you can reach out for support from trusted friends and family members to deal with the depression.

However, for unending and extreme levels of depression, consulting with a mental health clinician or therapist is crucial. Following are the common signs of gloomy depression

● Hopelessness

● Negative self-beliefs and thoughts

● Loss of interest in social activities

● Change in sleep and appetite patterns

● Increased dependence on alcohol and drugs

Stage 6: Acceptance

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The acceptance stage restores and heals the individuals who have gone through the denial, fear, anger, bargaining, and depression stage. In this letting go stage, the separating partner accepts that he or she can live as a single parent or person in the event of separation.

So, let’s delve more into the contextual meaning of acceptance. Acceptance may not mean that you have completely accepted the end of a relationship, but it implies that you want to adapt and embrace the realities of the event.

To cut it short, at the letting go stage, many people get clarity, and they start living once again. This stage does not come at once. You start accepting different aspects of separation slowly. You feel relaxed and can set new hobbies, read a book, see some old friends and movies, etc. All this gives a sense of pleasure and empowerment.

Following are the signs of acceptance and letting go stage:

● Feeling of self-compassion

● Learning to adapt

● Becoming mindful and tolerant

● letting go of resentment

Stage 7: Rebuilding and Moving On

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The 7th stage of an emotional divorce process is rebuilding and moving on. Rebuilding is the self-reflection stage, and you start looking for new opportunities to rediscover your identity, interests, and goals.

In short, you develop the sense of moving forward with life. However, it does not mean that you completely get rid of all emotional scars in the rebuilding stage. But it means that you start building some new relations and try to find happiness independently.

Following are the main characteristics that individuals may exhibit during the 7th separation stage.

• Renewing identity

• Cultivating self-care

• Building new relations

• Gaining independence

• Learning from the past emotional experience


Divorce can be a challenging rollercoaster ride mentally and emotionally. There are 7 different stages of divorce such as denial, fear, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and rebuilding. Understanding these 7 phases of separation helps individuals in managing anger, physical and emotional health, and some serious litigation matters that can be linked to divorce.

Also, you cannot predict how long each stage will last for individuals. Recovery from divorce is a personal and emotional factor and depends upon the pace of the legal process, too.

However, the 7 stages of separation usually last for 1.5 to 2 years. The rise and fall of explosive emotions during the journey can make you feel stuck in life.

Hence, it is recommended to lean on support from your friends, family, mental health professionals, and spiritual healers. For the legal process and protection of your rights, talking to the family attorney is a must factor to win legally and emotionally.

Frequently Asked Questions for Stages of Divorce

Q: What Are the Different Phases of Divorce?

There are a total 7 phases or stages of divorce, and they are:

1. Denial

2. Fear

3. Anger

4. Bargaining

5. Depression

6. Acceptance

7. Rebuilding and Moving on

However, not every individual dealing with divorce will go through each stage sequentially. The individuals may go back and forth between different stages during the separation.

How Long Do the Stages of Divorce Last?

There is no fixed timeline or period that how long each phase of divorce lasts. The separation process is different for every individual. However, mostly, the grieving process of divorcing partners usually ends within 1.5 to 2 years.

How Do You Overcome Divorce?

There can be no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You know that divorce is a personal and individual experience. Therefore, the coping mechanism to overcome it can be different. To overcome separation catastrophe, you can take these steps:

● Seek legal advice from Family lawyers

● Avoid isolation

● Engage in self-care

● Embrace the changes

● Get help from medical health professionals

● Seek support from family or friend

● Focus on the future and a new beginning

● Practice stress reduction

Where Should I Seek Support during Divorce?

You can consider the following options to maintain your emotional and physical well-being during the 5 stages of separation.

● Family

● Close friends

● Spiritual Counselors

● Mediation Coaches

● Psychotherapeutic Professionals

● Relationship/Marriage Support Groups (Divorce Club or Local Online Support Group)

Starting a Divorce

Most Affordable and Cheap Uncontested Divorce in California for $299

Cheap Uncontested Divorce in California: Complete Guide

California’s uncontested divorce is most affordable, fast and friendly. It’s when partners end their marriage together, agreeing on important things. They deal with property splitting, child care, and helping each other financially without the court’s help. The main thing is that both willingly complete the right paperwork to officially break the marriage. Uncontested divorces in California save time, worry less, and spend less. We’re going to talk about this easy method, which is different from contested divorces with trials and long legal fights. It’s less costly and more streamlined, with choices for a do-it-yourself way or getting professional help. This easy procedure is a nice break for partners wanting a less combative goodbye.

Top 10 Benefits of California’s Uncontested Divorce

  1. Cost-Effective: Uncontested divorces are generally less expensive than contested divorces because they avoid the need for a trial or multiple court appearances.
  2. ·Efficiency: Uncontested divorces often lead to a quicker resolution, allowing couples to finalize their divorce relatively swiftly.
  3. Minimal Conflict: The cooperative nature of uncontested divorces reduces conflicts and emotional stress, which is particularly advantageous when children are involved.
  4. Privacy: Uncontested divorces tend to be more private, as they avoid contentious courtroom battles, safeguarding the personal and financial details of the divorcing couple.
  5. Control: Both spouses retain more control over the outcome of the divorce, as they make decisions rather than having a judge impose them.
  6. Emotional Well-Being: Uncontested divorces typically result in less emotional turmoil and are less adversarial, fostering a more amicable process.
  7. Faster Resolution: With fewer disputes and court appearances, uncontested divorces are resolved more quickly, allowing both parties to move on with their lives sooner.
  8. Flexible Arrangements: Uncontested divorces allow spouses to customize their agreements for child custody, support, and property division, tailoring solutions to their unique circumstances.
  9. Lower Stress on Children: A less adversarial divorce process can be less traumatic for children, providing a more stable and positive environment for them during and after the divorce.
  10. Cost Predictability: Uncontested divorces often involve flat fees for legal services, making it easier to budget for the process.

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Checklist (Requirements & Filing) for California’s Uncontested Divorce Process:

  • Fulfilling the Residency Requirements:

Ensure that one spouse has completed the residence criteria of California by living in the state for the previous six months and in the county where the divorce case will be filed for the past three months (Cal. Fam. Code 2320).

  • Settlement Agreement and Mutual Agreement:

Both spouses must sign all appropriate divorce documents, including divorce forms and a thorough settlement agreement if they are willing and accessible. Property division, spousal support, child support, and child custody should all be addressed in this arrangement.

  • Gathering Required Documents:

Collect all pertinent paperwork, including a certified copy of your marriage certificate, which is required to start the divorce procedure, and the divorce forms required to finish the paperwork.

  • Court Filings and Service:

Complete and file the relevant divorce forms with the proper court in the county where you live. To give your spouse legal notice, serve the divorce papers.

  • Review, Finalization, and Implementation:

The court will review the submitted papers to ensure that they comply with state laws and that the agreement is fair. If required, attend any planned court sessions. The court will issue a final divorce decree once it has been approved. Both spouses are then in charge of carrying out the conditions of the settlement agreement, which include property transfers, custody arrangements, and financial responsibilities.

The Uncontested Divorce Process in California

• Finalize your agreement.

• Initiate the divorce process in court, with one spouse as the “petitioner” and the other as the “respondent.”

• File a divorce petition specifying the grounds for divorce and providing essential details.

• If there are children under 18, complete additional child custody and support forms.

• Consider attaching a Property Declaration if more space is needed for assets and debts.

• Find necessary forms and instructions on the California Courts website or use online services.

• Pay a filing fee (as of 2021, $435 for the petition and response) or request a fee waiver if facing financial constraints.

• Serve your spouse with divorce documents through a third party.

• Your spouse’s response determines whether the case is “default” or “uncontested.”

Why Choose TheCompleteDivorce?

Choosing TheCompleteDivorce is like having a supportive friend by your side during a tough time. Led by Dina Haddad, a caring lawyer with 15 years of experience in California, we’re here to make your divorce journey easier, affordable, and trustworthy. Our goal is to take away the stress, so you can focus on moving forward. We understand that divorces are not just about paperwork but about new beginnings, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Let us be your trusted partner in this important chapter of your life.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an uncontested divorce in California?

An uncontested divorce in California is when both partners mutually agree to end their marriage and work together to handle important matters such as property division, child care, and financial support without the need for court intervention.

How uncontested divorce differ from a contested one?

Uncontested divorces in California are typically less costly, quicker, and involve less conflict compared to contested divorces, which often include trials and legal battles.

What are the benefits of choosing an uncontested divorce in California?

Some benefits include cost-effectiveness, efficiency, minimal conflict, privacy, greater control over the outcome, lower stress on children, and faster resolution.

How does an uncontested divorce impact children involved in the process?

An uncontested divorce process is generally less traumatic for children, as it promotes a more stable and positive environment for them during and after the divorce.

How can I choose a trustworthy and affordable service for an uncontested divorce in California?

Consider choosing a service like TheCompleteDivorce, which is led by experienced professionals and aims to make the divorce process easier, affordable, and trustworthy.

What is the role of TheCompleteDivorce in an uncontested divorce in California?

TheCompleteDivorce is a supportive service led by experienced professionals, like Dina Haddad, that guides you through the divorce process, making it less stressful and more affordable, so you can focus on moving forward.

Is legal representation necessary for an uncontested divorce in California?

While it’s not mandatory to have legal representation, it can be beneficial to have legal guidance to ensure that all necessary paperwork is properly prepared and filed.

What is the cost of filing for an uncontested divorce in California with TheCompleteDivorce?

The cost of filing for an uncontested divorce with TheCompleteDivorce may vary, but it’s generally an affordable option. You can inquire about the specific fees and payment options by consulting with them.

Starting a Divorce



If you’re wondering how to tell your spouse you want a divorce, take a step back and focus on this one question. Plan a strategy to begin the process successfully. However, before you move forward, consider exploring the possibility of reconciliation if either you or your spouse have doubts about ending the marriage. It can be a tough choice to make, but it’s worth considering. If reconciliation is your goal, make sure to have a clear and well-thought-out plan so that you have the best chance of success.

A reconciliation plan details what commitments you and your spouse will put towards reconciling. Consider working with a marriage therapist to create a plan for you. With the help of your therapist, you and your spouse can set clear boundaries and goals about what it will take to reconcile and what will happen during that time. You and your spouse might agree to alternate between individual and couples counseling every week for six months.

During that time, you will continue to live together and follow the behavioral goals that you established in counseling. A goal might be to arrive on time for dinner. Another might be that all family-related decisions will be made jointly or to speak with each other with respect.

If the time you dedicated to reconciliation has not worked, you can revisit the decision to divorce. You will do better knowing you have given your marriage and family the time and energy they deserve.

Talking with Your Spouse I want a divorce:

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When reconciliation isn’t possible, divorce may be the only choice. It’s not an easy choice, and for some, it wasn’t their choice at all. In California, it only requires one person to want a divorce. If you don’t want a divorce, even if it is for religious or moral reasons, you still need to participate in the process if your spouse decides to go forward. Otherwise, you risk losing a number of legal rights because your spouse can complete the divorce without you

If you are the one initiating the divorce, your first step is to tell your spouse. For the majority, the person initiating the divorce does better when he or she tells her spouse about the divorce before filing the papers. This allows you to gain a tremendous amount of goodwill and set a cooperative tone for your divorce, which will help you finish quickly and avoid a costly court battle.

You do not need to surprise your spouse with the divorce papers. This will typically hurt your case. I’ve litigated a number of cases where the divorce talk was not handled correctly and it fueled years of expensive litigation. Without a meaningful conversation about the divorce, your spouse is more likely to interpret your divorce papers as a statement that you are not going to cooperate or be amicable. Upset, your spouse may retaliate and you can lose any chance you had to negotiate. 

There is a small percentage of cases where telling your spouse first might cause you actual harm. These include situations where there is domestic violence, whether physical or verbal, or financial abuse. There are also times a spouse may need to file first because the divorce filing will be part of a drug or alcohol intervention. Or you may need to file because it affects your immigration status in the US. In these cases, you may need to file first before discussing it with your spouse.

6 Steps of How to Speak with Your Children about Divorce:

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After you and your spouse have had the divorce talk, you need to decide when you will speak with your children. Some of my parents have told me that their children just know, but they have not spoken directly with their children about the divorce. Others are overwhelmed just thinking about it. They worry they won’t do it right; they’ll traumatize their children; or feel the timing is never quite right. These are all valid feelings, but it’s important to have this conversation with your kids. They need to hear it from you and be reassured that everything is going to be okay. And remember, this doesn’t have to be your only conversation with them.

Before you have the conversation with your kids, discuss with each other how you will each participate in the conversation. Make sure you both are clear about when and where the conversation will happen so that you are both emotionally and mentally prepared. 

This talk can be daunting but try not to stress over it. You can be so worried about hurting your children that you overthink it. Again, it won’t be your only opportunity, just the first of many conversations. You love your children. Just let that shine through:

  • •Talk to them together 
  • Be Age Appropriate 
  • Be Honest 
  • Expressing Love to Children:
  • Striving for a Lasting Agreement
  • Managing Pressure in Divorce Discussions

Be Age Appropriate:

First, your talk also needs to be age appropriate. The kind of details you share depends on your child’s age. The younger your child, the simpler the conversation. For young kids, the conversation should also happen around the same time there will be changes, like when you or the kids are going to move. For the youngest kids, one week can feel like an eternity so telling them a month in advance doesn’t help. If you have an age gap between your children, you may need to have a separate conversation with your older children. With older children, you can discuss more details about the divorce but steer clear from blaming each other.

Talk to them together:

When you do tell your children about the divorce, it’s often best that you do it together. Although you are talking to them about separating, seeing you together is comforting. It says, “We are still your parents.” “We can still sit together and have important conversations with you.” It shows that you are still in control and can create a safe place for them. Choose language that shows you support each other, showing them that you can continue to parent them together after the divorce. What you say in your talk matters.

Be Honest:

Second, be honest. Tell your children the truth. You are getting a divorce. They need to hear it from you. Acknowledge that it’s a difficult situation. If you cry, that’s okay, but don’t lose control. Your kids need to know they can express their emotions too, but they don’t need to take care of you. If you can, share good things about each other. Let you children know they can come back and discuss the divorce with you, and you want them to share with you what they need from you to make it easier on them.

Expressing Love to Children:

After that, the most Important thing is to tell your children that you love them. They cannot hear it enough. Remind them that even if you are splitting up, they are loved and the divorce is not their fault. There is nothing they could have done to stop it from happening. 

As you speak with your children, watch them for cues. Give them an opportunity to share their concerns, and listen carefully before responding. 

Striving for a Lasting Agreement

Your goal is not only to reach an agreement, but a lasting one. If you rush, you will have less time to understand your agreements or include important details, greatly increasing the chances of having disagreements in the future.

Later, when there’s a conflict, you might realize your agreement does not say what you believed it to say. Instead of rushing, take time to understand the law, these lessons, and how it applies to you before you try and resolve your divorce. You’ll do yourself, and your spouse, a big favor. 

Please reach out to us! We have the tools to help you succeed and can get you started in the best possible way.

Managing Pressure in Divorce Discussions

Once you have discussed the divorce with your spouse and kids, you may feel pressure to resolve your divorce quickly. Some couples can have productive conversations with each other to work out their divorce; but, more often, I see couples who come to me with prearranged agreements that end up having real problems. As we start talking, we realize at least one of them didn’t understand the agreement or the law. If one of them asks for changes, the other stops trusting, thinking an agreement will never be followed.

This makes it harder for them to revise their agreement after they have been educated on the agreement or the law.

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At TheCompleteDivorce, we provide you with what you need to successfully do your California divorce on your own. We provide all the required family law court forms in our automated forms program, all the video tutorials, and an automated customizable Marital Settlement Agreement (Divorce Agreement). If you need more help, you can get our package which includes time with a divorce mediator.