Divorce is a very difficult event in a person’s life. It is considered one of the most stressful things that a person can go through. Even if the split is amicable, many people have difficulty dividing and rearranging their lives.

It may help to know that there are five distinct stages of divorce, and most people experience each step in one form or another. These are similar to the five stages of grief, as divorce can be considered the death of a relationship or lifestyle.

Whether you are getting divorced or considering divorce, it can be helpful to know what to expect. You can navigate this process with intention and grace when you are prepared.

  1. Denial
    The first stage of divorce is denial. In this phase, many people don’t even acknowledge that there’s a problem in their relationship. Others acknowledge a problem but insist that divorce will not be the ultimate result.Many people refuse to accept that their divorce is happening, even if they’ve tried everything to fix their marriage. This is extremely common.
  2. Anger
    When a marriage ends, many people feel angry. Some are upset because they feel they have failed, while others are upset about how things are transpiring. No matter the reason, it’s common for people undergoing a divorce to experience anger in some form or another.It’s important not to let this anger cause you to do anything that can damage your case. Acting on a violent impulse is inappropriate and can limit your access to child custody, among other profound consequences.
  3. Bargaining
    This stage can be extremely damaging to an individual’s mindset and self-esteem. This is the phase where many people ask “what if” questions. What if I had tried harder? What if I change myself? What If I promise to never cheat again?This is a natural phase of a divorce, but it’s not necessarily the time to believe promises from your spouse. Unfortunately, pain can cause us to make promises or bargains that we cannot keep.During this stage, you’ll likely need a lot of support from friends and family. You may feel compelled to tell your story and figure things out verbally. It can be highly beneficial to seek counseling or psychotherapy during this stage.
  4. Depression
    When the reality of the situation begins to sink in, depression often rears its ugly head. This may manifest in feelings of loneliness, sadness, fatigue, numbness, disinterest, and more. Depression is a severe condition, so it’s important to identify it as part of your journey. This phase will pass, but it’s a challenging experience.If you feel especially stuck or unable to continue your life as you once did, it’s crucial to seek a mental health professional. Talk therapy and temporary medications may help you get through this time.
  5. Acceptance
    Finally, after a long road of suffering, you will experience acceptance. Many people feel a sense of clarity, and they begin to participate in their lives once again. It’s important to understand that acceptance doesn’t happen overnight. You may slowly start to accept various parts of your divorce until one day you realize that you feel all right about the situation. This sense of calm will continue to grow as time passes.Be sure you enjoy life during this time. Pick up an old or new hobby, see friends, enjoy books and movies, etc. Indulge in whatever brings you joy as you set the foundation for the next phase of your life.

Everyone Is Different

No two divorce processes are the same. However, it can be helpful to know the general journey that most people take when they get divorced. Understanding that there is an order to the divorce process is comforting to most people. It’s also an important reminder that others have gone through what you are experiencing. It’s best to have patience with yourself during this time and allow yourself to take two steps forward and one step back. Healing is not always linear.

Stages of Divorce


Q: What Are the Phases of Divorce?

A: The phases of divorce mirror the states of grief. They are:

  • Denial.
  • Anger.
  • Bargaining.
  • Depression.
  • Acceptance.

Some people don’t move through these stages in this order, and it’s common to go back and forth between stages at different times during the divorce process. Just because there are distinct stages of divorce does not mean that there is a roadmap for how the healing process will go.

Q: How Long Do the Stages of Divorce Last?

A: The divorce process is different for everyone, so there is no timeline for how long each stage will take. Most people finish the grieving process within two years of their separation. It’s important to remember that the only way to truly get through it is to fully experience your emotions. Pushing them away only makes them more challenging to deal with later.

Q: What Is the Most Difficult Stage of Divorce?

A: People struggle with various parts of the divorce process, so it’s hard to tell which will be most difficult for you. The depression stage can be challenging because individuals who are depressed have a hard time moving forward and processing their emotions. However, the initial stage of separation before the divorce proceedings begin can also be very difficult. Again, it’s hard to say which stage is objectively the most difficult.

Q: What Are Some Facts About Divorce?

A: There are many misleading statistics about divorce, and it’s important to know that these figures do not have to reflect your situation. Some facts about divorce include:

  • About 39% of first marriages, 60% of second marriages, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce in the United States.
  • The United States has the sixth highest divorce rate in the world.
  • The average length of a United States marriage is 8.2 years.
  • Differences in drinking habits are a leading cause of divorce.

Contact the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers

Our firm has been helping couples through the divorce process for many years. You can trust us with your changing family, no matter the circumstances. Contact the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers today.