The Five Stages of Grief in Divorce Explained by a Toledo Divorce Attorney

May 1, 2014

A lot of people have heard of the Five Stages of Grief when it comes to the loss of a loved one:


Toledo Divorce Attorney

In my years of divorce representation as a Toledo Divorce Attorney, it has become very clear to me that these stages exist when it comes to accepting the end of a relationship like a marriage.

Most of my clients don’t come to me in “denial.” By the time they have researched a divorce attorney and contacted me they have moved past denial. I have had a few clients who remained in denial throughout the entire process including the final hearing. Some people believe that their partner just needs some time alone, or to find themselves. Occasionally it does happen where a divorced couple gets back together, but I encourage my clients not to hold out that hope.

I do get a lot of clients who are in the “anger” stage. Unfortunately, it does happen that the anger stage is accompanied domestic violence complaints, protection orders and criminal charges. This is one reason that I feel that it is important to offer my clients a range of services. From one domestic violence incident it is quite possible to have a criminal charge in municipal court, a domestic violence civil protection order in Domestic Relations Court and then a custody or visitation motion, or divorce. Now not every domestic violence charge results in a divorce, and not every divorce results in domestic violence (THANK GOD!).

You might think that a client in the “bargaining” stage is a good client to have. That is simply not the case. A bargaining client is still trying to make the relationship work by any means necessary. A lot times they want to give in to unreasonable demands to show their future ex-spouse that they can change, and they can be reasonable. As their attorney this makes it really hard to stand-firm on a position and exploit the weaknesses in their case. Client control can only go so far, especially if the husband and wife are having significant communication with each other outside of their attorneys.

A client in the “depression” stage isn’t too bad. They are generally pretty pliable and willing to allow me to protect their best interest. They usually go along with what I ask them to do, don’t call me at unreasonable hours of the day and never get too excited. However, they usually aren’t proactive in getting me the information I need to know, and can therefore create a little more work for me.

The best client to have though is one who in the “acceptance” stage. They may be sad that the relationship is ending and may even with it wasn’t. But they have accepted the reality that the marriage will be ending, and that they must move into a new phase in their life. They are generally willing to be an active participant in the negotiations of their divorce, and can adequately spell out for me the issues that their family will face in the coming weeks, months and years. This client is usually not a liability to their own case and they can help me get them the results they deserve.

People walk into my office in all of these stages. People process these stages differently. It happens all the time that the husband is at one stage and the wife is at another. I recognize it in my client’s and the other party. By recognizing these stages I can use it as a shield and a weapon.

Contact Michael E. Bryant’s Toledo, OH law office today to get the justice you deserve.

Find Michael E. Bryant online at, visit our law office in Toledo, OH on the second floor of 1119 Adams St. or call us at (419) 243-3922.