Who Gets the Friends After the Divorce?


Divorce attorneys in Pasadena are usually called in to help divorcing couples decide which spouse is entitled to what asset. Things like who gets to keep the house or who gets to stake claims on the antiques are squabbles best refereed by attorneys and judges. But there are some things couples share that can't be handled in a courtroom - like friends. Most couples acquire close friends during the course of a marriage. Yet when the marriage ends, alliances can be broken and relationships can fade, leaving the newly-divorced feeling abandoned. So who gets to keep the mutual friends after a divorce?

It's complicated. "It's a dilemma for everybody, and there's no simple way," says Dee Ring Martz, a licensed counselor who specializes in life-changing transitions like divorce. "There are many different personalities and insecurities and wounds. It almost becomes required that people take a side, if it's really nasty."

Even in the best situations with the most amiable couples, the breaking up of a friendship unit can be difficult. Sometimes the responses of friends can take divorcing couples by surprise.

"When a couple calls it quits, expect two types of response," says blogger Heidi Davoran, who went through a nasty divorce herself. "First, the friends who run for the hills, turn off their phones and avoid eye contact - these are the I'm-not-good-with-tears friends, who would rather fold your washing than address the elephant in the room. These people who were once a regular part of your life may be no longer. Think of it as a spring clean... culling can be therapeutic."

The other response, Davoran says, is more rare and valuable: the people who stick around and are there for you during tough times. The people who have your back during a divorce aren't always who you'd predict, Davoran says.

"How the messy mass of mixed allegiances plays out when the dust settles after a mangled marital muddle is sometimes how you least expect it," she notes.

In the end, Martz says it's best to allow yourself time to grieve after the loss of a spouse - and the associated loss of friends.

"There's a sense of betrayal. If friends are choosing the other person over them, it's another sense of huge loss," she says. "Not only is the person gone, and the marriage if gone, but now their friends are gone."