An Open Letter to Therapists of Divorcing Couples

After more than thirty years as a divorce lawyer and mediator, I have worked with over four thousand couples.  I have a good sense of how the system works, and a multitude of additional resources for anyone potentially facing divorce.

The advice divorcing people receive early in the process greatly influences what kind of divorce they will have.  Bad advice plays on ignorance, fear and mistrust, while misinformation emphasizes conflict and struggle as inevitable.  In other words, bad advice produces bad divorce.  Good advice is harder to come by.  Few people understand that divorce need not be a war of attrition and bitterness. In fact, most couples can achieve a “good divorce” if they acquire crucial information very early on.

Some fortunate people get the advice they need from their therapists.  I have published several books on divorce, and have recently written a fourth book on how to achieve decent divorce.  Negotiating the Good Divorce is available for free download.  This book explains both legal and emotional pitfalls to avoid in pursuit of good divorce.  My hope is that it will serve as a resource for separating couples in avoiding emotional and financial exhaustion, typical of conventional lawyer-dominated divorce.

In 2007, I published a book specifically for therapists, Working with Divorcing Couples (2007, Guilford Press).  This book explores the interaction between the legal and emotional processes of divorce, and encourages therapists to expand their roles to help clients avoid contentious, out-of-control divorces.

Why send your clients off into the hands of divorce attorneys whose primary interests are how much he or she will earn on their case and how much can be gained for one party over another?  You can continue to help them and provide a resource for navigating an emotionally healthy separation and divorce process.

I believe that about 90% of divorcing couples, provided with adequate leadership, could achieve good divorces in which the parties wish each other well, negotiate an agreement they both think is fair and come out of the process able to cooperate around the children. And it is also my contention that most people who end up with angry, costly and destructive divorces could have had good divorces if they’d had better advice from the beginning.

Here are some of the questions I often hear and can help your clients answer:

  • How do I know if I really want a divorce?
  • What about a temporary separation?
  • How do I know if my spouse is thinking divorce?
  • Can we afford to divorce?
  • How do I manage the guilt about the kids?
  • How do I tell my spouse I want a divorce?
  • How do I deal with my anger?
  • How do I deal with my spouse’s anger?
  • How can we keep the divorce peaceful?
  • How can we decide to avoid “dirty tricks?”
  • How do we tell the children?

Check out my consultation page for more examples of questions frequently asked and ways I can counsel you and your clients to make wise decisions early on in the divorce process, which is key to beginning the least stressful path to a healthy divorce.  I can serve in a consultant role or as mediator or in any capacity that works best for you and your clients.  Having someone to help navigate these waters very useful and at times, critical.  I invite and encourage you to call me with your questions.


Sam Margulies


Sam Margulies, Ph.D., J.D.

Before he was a divorce mediator, he was a divorce attorney.  Sam Margulies, Ph.D., J.D., is one of the most experienced mediators in the United States. Since 1980, he has mediated hundreds of civil disputes and approximately four thousand divorces including many complex multi-million dollar matters.

Author of several books on divorce, Sam Margulies is an empathetic and knowledgeable guide through the difficult journey of divorce.  Contact Sam with your questions and to talk about your divorce.


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