Divorce is about dividing up the assets but what about dividing up the friends?

The process of divorce is all about disentangling the lives of two people, physically, financially and emotionally.  It can be like tearing apart a living organism or gently segmenting a ripe orange.

It has to be said that the latter is the preferable method but it requires kindness plus skilled mediation or an empathetic family lawyer.

your group of friendsWhat about the friends
Friends are a great comfort in times of great distress and inevitably have a view about the marriage and thus about the divorce.  It's very difficult to remain a completely neutral spectator whilst watching a once loving relationship go through the mincer. 

Now friends come in two basic varieties and then subgroups within them.  Now before all this becomes too mind numbingly boring let's take a look at what this is all about.  There are basically friends made before marriage (FBMs) and those made during marriage (FDMs).

Friends Before Marriage - FBMs
They come in two flavours - mine and his/hers.  These are the friends inherited by the marriage but with their origins with one or other of you.  They will almost always have a point of view often mildly/strongly disapproving of their friend's choice of partner. 

When it comes to the crunch these friends will almost always stick to their original friend through the divorce and beyond.  They need to be nurtured and treated well during the turbulent times as they can give great support during the divorce process and beyond.

Friends During Marriage - FDMs
These friends have been acquired together and so may well not have strongly established loyalties to one or other of you.  Their post divorce allegiances are harder to predict.  Much will depend upon their involvement in the divorce.  It tends to go that men support the men and women support the women.  If you have become part of a large circle or network of friends then unstitching that can be difficult.  Do it slowly and let things fall into place rather than trying to force people to do things. 

The best approach is to discuss this with each other as part of all the other post divorce arrangements.  You are both going to need supportive friends in your life after divorce so a rational and fair allocation is the best way ahead.  This may all sound very clinical and dispassionate but in the end your friends will choose you as much as you choose them. 

However, using friends in the bargaining process is a truly bad idea.  You can have the washing machine if I can have Jeremy and Caroline as my friends.  Very tacky, won't work, don't even think about it.

How about sharing?
This seems like a good and fair idea.  It can work out but it depends on the unstable chemistry of human behaviour.  It's difficult and the chances of it happening will largely depend upon the ferocity of the divorce.  If the divorce process was a bit like the Battle of the Somme then it's very unlikely to happen.  A gentle and cooperative divorce will make it so much easier to share friends.

Poaching and spreading disinformation
The division of your married friends into mine and his/hers will be something you can influence but not control.  Do your best but in the end you will need to accept things as they evolve.  Trying to poach friends who clearly ‘belong' to your partner through feeding them disinformation (or lies as we used to say) is not a good plan.  It will not work and will only make the relationship with you ex partner even worse.

Life after divorce can be good and your friends can play a big part in that.  Be generous in the post divorce realignment of your friends.  You will both need them so be kind and understanding and you will both benefit from them in your life after divorce.

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