Study finds emotions play role in divorce negotiations

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Family Law on Wednesday, May 30, 2012.

It should come as no surprise that during the divorce process it is quite natural and normal for a wide range of emotions to come up. Some husbands may feel guilty for filing for a divorce, while some wives may be angry that the marriage did not go as intended. Others may just regret that the marriage could not work out. However, what’s important to keep in mind is that it is often these different emotions that end up influencing how a divorcing couple will negotiate with one another in order to reach some sort of a divorce settlement.

Recently, a study looked at 36 separate couples who had filed for divorce. All of these couples were in their 40s and had been married for roughly 15 years. Of those couples, around 75 percent had children together.

As part of the study, researchers asked the couples to fill out surveys that would rate their level of regret, guilt and shame. From there, researchers measured five negotiating styles, which included avoidance, compromising, yielding by letting a partner get what he or she wants, using threats to try and force an outcome, and problem solving.

From here it was found that those who felt shame during the divorce process were more likely to avoid negotiation and did not work as hard at problem solving. However, those who felt a good deal of guilt during the process were more likely to yield and at least try and problem solve with an ex. There was no real strong correlation between regret and negotiation styles.

Of course, it should be noted that these findings are not hard and fast rules as to how a spouse is going to act during a divorce. And, just because a spouse feels guilty, it still does not always necessarily mean that he or she will be more willing to problem solve in order to negotiate. Additionally, it’s normal to feel shame, guilt and regret, as well as other emotions, like anger.

Rather, it’s just important to keep these findings in mind to make sure that negotiations are being reached based on the best possible outcome for children and couples, and not reached strictly based on emotion.

Source: Huffington Post, “How Guilt, Shame and Regret Drive Divorce Decisions,” Robert Hughes, May 28, 2012

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