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divorce conflict separate emotion

Paula Phelan is a Family Lawyer with Specialist Accreditation in this area from the Queensland Law Society. She has been a lawyer for 21 years and is the director of Phelan Family Law, a Rockhampton legal firm specialising in Family Law only.

In my first column, I mentioned that the approach to family law issues involves help from other professionals as well as your lawyer.

This week Dr Vanessa Ghea from Rockhampton City Psychology joins us again to talk about whether you are really ready for a divorce.

Dr Ghea regularly helps people facing separation to consider whether they have thought through the decision clearly and objectively and are really prepared to live with the consequences.

Were you ever really committed to a shared life?

To be really married a couple must have created a relationship that included an “us” or a “we”. Many people who are considering a divorce have never had a marriage that was anything more than two individuals meeting their own needs. They may have raised children and shared a home but they participated in those activities from a competitive rather than a unified position.

If you have not developed a genuine “we” in your relationship this would be the time to either commit to learning how to do that or to admit that you have never really had a marriage.

Are you truly ready for divorce or are you just threatening?

Divorce is often threatened, especially in heated marital arguments for the following reasons:

  • Out of anger and frustration;

  • To gain power and control over the other person, to get them to see things your way;

  • To finally be taken seriously that you want real change;

  • As a wakeup call that the marriage is faltering.

People who consistently threaten divorce lose credibility with themselves and their partner.

What is your intent in wanting a divorce?

Any agenda, other than ending the marriage, is an indication that you are not ready to divorce.

If you are hoping that through the divorce the other person will change and start treating you better, realise how much they have lost or pay for how much they have hurt you, you are getting a divorce for the wrong reason.

Divorce has no power to right wrongs nor change people’s hearts and minds. Divorce can only do one thing, end a marriage, and in so doing free each person to make new attachments to new people.

Can you handle the unpleasant consequences of divorce?

Divorce brings change and grief because it is the loss of the “happy family” dream. Hurts, disappointments, loneliness, failure, rejection, inadequacy can all take hold of the psyche when we are in this extremely vulnerable


To be ready for the ups and downs of separation/divorce it is necessary to have a support system of family and friends who will be there to help you emotionally and practically when needed.

One of the hardest consequences of divorce is needing to face another person’s pain, be it your children’s, your family or friends because divorce affects so many people’s lives.

It is important to create a team around you that cares for all areas of your welfare during this difficult time.


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