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Three Phases of the Divorce Process  -

and each phase has its emotional

and practical components

Step by Step

Counseling is useful for each of these periods.

From Grief to Growth - The emotional process of divorce.

Should you stay or go?  The process of separation and divorce begins with answering that question - and usually it’s a decision made by only one spouse, not both. The question usually rises when the marital partners have lost their emotional connection to each other.

Sorting out the answer takes time and it takes courage. Counseling and therapy can help individuals and couples decide whether or not to stay together. No matter which spouse makes the decision to divorce grief follows the decision to divorce for both of them, as well as relief.




Deciding to separate is painful. It’s important to have emotional and practical support while you make your decision. Before taking any action, learn about the decisions you will need to make and the options you have for getting help regarding parenting, finances, living arrangements and the legal system.

First is the period of considering whether or not to work on the marriage or call it quits. The decision period generally lasts one to two years, especially if the marriage has been a long one or if there are children involved.


Emily M. Brown


1600 Wilson Blvd.

Suite 702

Arlington, Va 22209

703 528-3900


Separation marks the end of the marriage as you have known it. For most people, separation is more significant emotionally than the final divorce decree. When a decision to divorce is made, it sets in motion a whole series of changes: changes in living arrangements, parenting, social support, finances and one’s own identity. At the same time there is grief at losing ones hopes and dreams for the marriage. The extent of change can be scary. For some spouses, there is also relief that the bad parts of the marriage are over. This amount of change - all at once constitutes a Crisis.

Massive changes occur in relationships and lifestyles. Grief is a big factor for the spouse who didn’t want to separate. The temptation is to get involved in another serious relationship, without knowing why the marriage ended.

By now the legal divorce has probably occurred and the marriage is no longer the primary reference point. This is the time to explore why the marriage ended and what your contribution to it’s demise was. It is also time to explore new opportunities and challenges - not just new relationships.

It is also time to look back at your identified contribution and make changes to resolve within yourself what “old baggage from your past and childhood is getting in your way to a successful marriage. It is a time to rebuild and heal yourself in preparation for another relationship. The danger in this period continues to being drawn in to be emotionally involved with someone new before sorting out and resolving your own issues.