divorce and family mediation in nyc

jennifer safian, divorce mediator

212-472-8626    info@safianmediation.com

“what can I do?”

Jennifer Safian of www.safian-mediation.com discusses things to keep in mind when you find yourself caught up in a friend’s divorce.

The divorce process is certainly difficult for the couple going through it, but it can be equally difficult for their friends. What do you say? What do you do? Who do you support?

If you have a relationship with both the husband and wife, it may be very difficult not to get caught in between them, particularly because circumstances are usually adversarial.

If you wish to maintain your relationships with both, it is very important not to take sides. You need to make it clear to each of them, separately, that you are there for them, to listen to and support them, but that you will remain neutral and not side with one or the other.

Picking sides, or attempting to side with both, will not only end up hurting them, but it will hurt you because they may feel you are being disloyal. One party may get angry and decide they would rather not continue your relationship, which is unfortunate but may very well happen.

If you are friends with only one of the parties, it is important that you not fuel any of the anger that your friend may be feeling towards his or her spouse. There are always two sides to a story. Your role as a friend is neither to pick one of those sides, nor overtly blame your friend’s partner, as that may only serve to exacerbate your friend’s emotional state.

Be willing to listen. Often, not saying anything can be the best gift you have to offer. Your friends will undoubtedly endure volatile periods and feelings, including anger, sadness, hopelessness, frustration, guilt, blame, shame, and fear. Being there to listen and comfort them during these difficult and sometimes unpredictable times, will be more helpful and important to them than they may know or realize in the moment.

If your friend asks you for help, you may suggest that they get as much information as they can about the process. Of course, a mediator is a good place to start. I offer a free consultation to explain the process and answer questions that the divorcing couple might have, as well as help them assess if mediation is the right path for them. If they need legal or financial advice, the mediator can refer them to someone after helping them narrow down exactly the kind of questions they need answered.

The very best way in which you can help your friends is by being “there” for them, making yourself part of their emotional support system and letting them know that.   

Do you know a friend or colleague whom you feel would find this article relevant? Please feel free to forward this article to them.

If you have any questions or concerns about Mediation,
or would like to schedule a no fee mediation consultation ,
please don’t hesitate to contact me today!

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Jennifer Safian

jennifer safian. divorce and family mediator
divorce and family mediation
upper east side of manhattan (nyc)
new york, ny
(212) 472-8626
info@safianmediation.com
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6 Comments

  1. david curran March 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Is there any data on whether friends do maintain relationships with both sides after a divorce. In my experience losing friends is a very common consequence of a divorce.

  2. Rosalind Sedacca March 31, 2013 at 11:25 am - Reply

    Valuable insights, here. Thanks Jennifer. I think most all of us have been caught in that awkward place and not known quite how to handle it.

  3. Christina Nitschmann April 4, 2013 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom Jennifer.

  4. Mark B Baer, Esq April 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Excellent advice, Jennifer. As they say, “keep your nose clean”.

  5. Randy Edwards April 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    Jennifer-Very good advice, exactly what I would say to a friend going through divorce. It is unusual for a friend or friend-couple to stay close friends with both divorcing parties. I hope I never have the situation come up, but I wonder how to respond if a close friend asked me to mediate for their possible divorce. I would of course explain it would be unethical because of our close friendship and I’m sure the other party would have concerns about my impartiality too, but what if they both were very insistent about it?

  6. Margot Weinshel May 8, 2013 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    As always, Jennifer, you offer helpful concrete advice in a very destabilizing situation.

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