Like most websites we use cookies to improve your experience and provide us with anonymous visitor information. If you are happy with this use of cookies click OK.
Read more about our use of cookies and how you can switch off cookies in our Privacy Policy. [x] Close

Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Anger management key to healthy divorce


I took a test this week and found it asked some tough questions of me. This was not an academic test. I’ve had enough of those in my life and thankfully I can say that the bulk of those are well behind me now.
Now I think about it, test is too strong a word. It was just a simple assessment of the way I deal with things. Here’s a taste:

• Do you have a tendency to criticise others?
• Do you keep things bottled up and then eventually explode at tiny irritation?
• Do you get upset when people disagree with you?
• If you’re angry, do you tend to take it out on someone other than the person you are angry with?
• Do you act politely when fuming inside?

And so it went on with a few more in the same vein. Now I consider myself to be a calm person and feel I cope well with the stresses and strains of life. As a rule, I would say mostly “no’s” in answer to these questions. However, I know there are times and situations when I could have said yes to every one as well.

This all came about as part looking at the wider services we offer to our clients and working with allied professional, catering for a whole host of needs of clients, not just legal services when it comes to divorce and separation.

And it has brought home to me more than ever before just what a key role anger can play in how a break-up affects someone.

Failing to control anger, or managing these feeling badly, affects loved ones, friends and family, not just ex-partners. Domestic violence is perhaps the most commonly discussed example of anger in a relationship and a key reason behind many break-ups. Specific support groups for this are well known and the law also offers some support for individuals in an abusive relationship as everyone has the right to live without fear for their safety.

However, there are many different manifestations of anger and it can be damaging in many different ways if not properly channelled and managed. The very fact that someone feels angry about a situation they are in, perhaps because they blame themselves for as relationship breakdown, are not seeing their children as much as they would want to or simply feel hard done to by the process, can feed further feelings of guilt which in turn cause anger and the problem snowballs.

Managing anger effectively can help prevent a break-up in the first place. If separation is inevitable, it can help a person deal with the process in a more effective way without frustrations spilling out into, say, their working life and so having a bigger impact. It can also help ensure that relationships with friends and family, whose support is so key at a time of break-up, are not inadvertently damaged.

There are simple steps a person can take to relieve the build up of anger and a whole raft of sessions, some with a more general remit like simply beating anger, to more focused ones, like understanding anger for parents, as Paula from the British Association of Anger Management showed us.

Support like this can only be good in saving relationships and helping to achieve a more amicable divorce. I am keen to find out more so will report back in the not-too-distant future again on this topic. In the meantime, if you have any personal experience of this type of session or the effects that well or poorly-managed anger can have on relationships, I would love to hear from you.

Andrew Woolley
Divorce Solicitor


Loading comments...

I really appreciate Andrew’s thoughts after the interesting meeting I had with his firm’s team.  I wanted to add a couple of observations from discussing anger management with family law solicitors.  There appears to me to be a reticence in broaching the subject of anger management with clients.  On first view, it would seem an obvious problem - anger is one of the remaining taboos in our society and no-one wants to be thought of as a person who finds it hard to control their emotions.
However on further discussion, it seems to me that family law solicitors may need to experience some of the anger management approaches to realise that it is not just for ‘crazy’ people.  At The British Association of Anger Management, we run 2 hour introductory Taster Evenings and I encourage solicitors to attend.  Great professional development and very real opportunity to understand how anger management might work for their clients ( and perhaps some other people they know socially / at work too).
The other aspect that has been ticking away since the meeting, is how really useful an anger management course can be when going through a divorce: before a court appearance, a course will provide a certificate of attendance, a court report and assessment of the client.  This may be a vital piece of evidence in seeking child custody or extended child access.  It’s also great for the longer term:  better relationships with the ex-spouse, healthy models for the children, and the possibility that a new relationship won’t follow the same patterns.
Thanks for reading and look forward to your comments.
Paula Backen
Beating Anger Birmingham…

By Paula Backen on Monday October 11, 2010

This article sparked a “big think"for me.. As a counsellor with an expertise in infidelity, it got me thinking about how many affairs are in fact maladapted ways of dealing with anger within the primary relationship. Irritations built up over the years, and instead of being dealt with in a straight way at the time, anger stamps have been saved up over a long period of time, then cashed in all at once resulting in an affair.

In Transactional Analysis we also talk about feelings which mask others. All of us have “preferred” feelings,ones we find easier to express. For many anger covers more difficult emotions such as hurt and fear. When a relationship breaks down, there is a great deal of hurt, and often a lot of fear for the future. No wonder then so many couples find themselves almost at war.

Getting help to understand and deal with what lies under the rage may help you find a path through it, and create a better “map” for the future….

By Liz Sparkes on Monday October 11, 2010

I would like to add to Paula’s comments. Knowing that there are Family Law Solicitors out there who have a solution focussed approach to their client’s situation is uplifting.
We are experiencing increasing demand especially in the “access to children” side of things and find that the courses we provide give benefits on both sides. The partner and children who are afraid of the anger from the other side of the partnership are able to seek safe relationships in the future despite divorce. The person on the receiving end of the course gets valuable life skills, access to their children and better future relationships. Seeking help for the anger management experts can also help keep costs down, with finances already under pressure. We are finding that a partner in a relationship is easily able to identify anger as the issue and that our assessment, report writing and training are proving to be a preferable cost than the traditional methods. We are also getting complimented not only for the high standards of the training and results but equally the turnaround times. We can operate efficiently because we specialise in anger.

By Julian Hall on Thursday October 21, 2010

Thanks for your comments. We do train our lawyers in the support that there is available to our clients going through a divorce, without that knowledge they would be unable to notice when to refer and to whom. I think too many of us lawyers “process” people instead of looking more holistically. In other words there is a tendency to give clients what lawyers know they need instead perhaps of what the client wants….

By Andrew Woolley on Thursday October 28, 2010

What do you think?

Have your say



Receive your FREE guide

Your free guide will be available to download immediately and a copy sent by email. Your email address will not be used to send any further correspondence without your permission.