Divorce involves a number of transitions in lifestyle and outlook. The following six overlapping dimensions of divorce have been identified:
- The emotional divorce: Increased tension between partner and loss of an intimate relationship. This is usually instigated by one partner.
- The legal divorce: The grounds on which the marriage is ended. Most divorces are still based on matrimonial offence. This may be a result of our adversarial legal system. Some professionals want to see the development of family courts, which encourage negotiated settlements.
- The economic divorce: The division of wealth and property. Both partners and children are deprived of material resources. Gibson (1982) found few women receiving maintenance on a regular basis; housing problems are also common and adequate welfare advice is essential.
- The co-parental divorce: Child custody and visiting. The husband usually loses the parental role. Hitche11 (1985) suggests that in the UK, 25-30% of children lose contact with one parent very soon after separation.
- The community divorce: Alterations in friendships and other social relationships - both partners lose in-law kin, friends may take sides.
- The psychic divorce: Facing the demands of living alone, loss of social identity and status. Divorced women seem more prone to depression, sleeping and eating problems; divorced men tend to lead erratic and chaotic lives.