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Short and Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Couples

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If you are at a time of crisis and facing separation or divorce issues, it is a time to make critical financial and personal decisions.

An experienced team of lawyers will help you make the right decisions to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Divorce can affect individuals mentally, economically, emotionally, and physically. With divorce being a process, it tends to affect individuals before the actual legal process begins, immediately after the divorce, as well as years later.

Here are the short and long-term effects divorce has on couples.

Short-term effects of divorce

Apart from losing the emotional and financial advantages of a happy marriage, the process of divorce itself can be stressful. Depending on the specific circumstances, the legal process can be long drawn out, particularly when there are mutual blame games and custody battles.

Couples tend to develop anxiety, guilt, low energy levels, negative self-image, feelings of dissatisfaction, and lack of mutuality in the initial phase of the divorce process. Both the initiator and the defender can undergo a range of feelings right from anger, fear, denial, stubborn behaviour, depression, disbelief, helplessness, and shock.

A profound feeling of grief, intense preoccupation, high levels of sensitivity or irritability, and difficulty focusing on tasks can ensue.

As divorce divides the shared resources of the household, one of the short-term fallouts is the change in the standard of living. Studies show that the changes in socio-economic status post-divorce can impact mental wellness.

Economic hardship can also be due to either the initiator or defender denying or withholding maintenance payments.

When one partner has a higher income than the other, the one with a lower income is more likely to suffer the economic and emotional consequences.

Long term effects of divorce

According to SingStat (the Singapore Department of Statistics), more marriages culminated in divorces in 2020 as compared to 2019. The number of divorces averaged 7536 in the period between 2015 and 2019. Statistics show that most couples who divorced in 2019 had an average marriage duration of 10.4 years. Those who were married for anywhere from 5 to 9 years accounted for 30 per cent of divorces.

The long-term effects of divorce can include financial hardship, emotional difficulties, lost friendships, reduced contact with children as well as strained holidays. The longer the duration of the marriage, the more severe these effects.

Studies indicate that divorced adults experience higher levels of anxiety and depression as compared to those who are married. Individuals who are divorced also experience higher levels of psychological distress and have poorer self-esteem compared to people who are married.

Apart from the psychological impact, those who are divorced may find it harder to find another partner. According to a research bulletin from the Subordinate Courts in Singapore, only one out of ten individuals re-marry after divorce.

An acrimonious divorce can exacerbate the negative effects of a separation. In a difficult divorce where both the defendant and the plaintiff cite each others’ faults, the acrimony can last years after the divorce, making it harder for them to move on. The bitter conflict can also strain the parents’ relationship with their children.

Mitigating the adverse effects of divorce

Reputed Singapore divorce lawyers recommend Collaborative Family Practice (CFP) designed to help couples achieve the best possible outcomes. Apart from avoiding the costly and lengthy process of a traditional divorce, CFP can help mitigate the social, economic, and emotional impacts of a traditional divorce. The most experienced divorce lawyers in Singapore can help address a range of matters, including child custody, child access, spousal maintenance, taxes, matrimonial assets division, and insurance.

Marital First Responders offer basic marriage support to those facing marital issues, while those considering divorce can also leverage the online counselling pilot offered by Community Psychology Hub. Parenting programmes help parents gain insights into the negative emotional, psychological and financial impact the divorce can have on children as well as themselves.