Split Allegiances: Dividing Friends During Divorce

friendship and divorceDividing things during divorce is a grueling process. You must sort through all of your personal assets, the house, the car, the pets, and even your kids.

Then there are those items that can’t be divided by property division or custody laws: the relationships you have with your friends.

It’s common for a huge part of your identity to be tied to your significant other. You share a home, a family, bank accounts, and a social circle. Once you’re married, you tend to not socialize on your own as much as you did as a bachelor. It’s more common to go to dinner and attend parties with other couples who are shared friends.

When you divorce, sorting through those relationships can get tricky. Friendships change. What do you do about your mutual friends? Will you both keep in touch with them and just hang out separately? Could you still handle hanging out in a group setting if your ex is around? Or is it best to divide your friends up just like any other asset?

Staying amicable

Unfortunately, the family court system has a nasty way of pitting one spouse against the other. The setup breeds conflict throughout the divorce process and often makes it impossible to maintain a healthy relationship after divorce.

That doesn’t have to always be the case. As a society, we should do more to support couples working to divorce amicably. And when couples maintain a friendship after divorce, we should even celebrate them.

When Keith Hinson and Michelle Knight broke up, they posted a “divorce selfie” on social media to announce their split and let their friends and family know that they intended to stay on good terms despite ending their marriage. In cases like this, there is really no need to disrupt your social circle and you should carry on just as you did when you were married.

Splitting friends

Sadly, most divorces aren’t that smooth and dealing with the friends situation is much more complicated.

It’s fairly straightforward what you should do when considering friends you made before marriage. Those friends you made before marriage might have grown close with your wife, but at the end of the day you forged the original bond and will likely remain close after divorce (and vice versa for your wife’s friends before marriage).

It’s much more of a grey area with friends you made during your marriage.

The Huffington Post lists 7 tips on how to share friends after divorce:

  • Talk about it.
  • Accept the losses.
  • Decide if you can split or share.
  • Agree on rules for socializing.
  • Determine if you can be around each other socially.
  • Communicate with friends.
  • Stay flexible.

It’s a good idea to think about the friendships in your life that matter the most to you. Work to maintain and nurture those relationships, but also understand that you’re almost certain to lose touch with other friends whose company you truly enjoy.

It’s common for many friendships to take a dive following divorce, but your best friends are going to stay by your side to support you in whatever way they can. Treasure those friendships and let them know how much you value them.

Also keep in mind that while you might be severing some meaningful relationships in your life, a divorce also permits you a level of freedom to socialize and make new friends that you didn’t have while you were married. Use this time to develop new hobbies and interests and cultivate your passions. That personal growth will serve you well as you meet new people and build new friendships.

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