Scaling stress in divorce

8th March 2015 by


When stress was first studied formally in the 1930s endocrinologist Hans Selye found that a number of physiological responses occurred in mice when they were subjected to certain stimuli.

As scientists explored further, studies showed that stress causes reactions in the human body which compromise the immune system – stress can make us ill.

Divorce is stressful, this is almost inevitable and even if a couple can agree the details of their split constructively, the whole process of ending a relationship, adjusting to new circumstances and having to deal with arrangements for children and finances is likely to induce some levels of stress at certain points.

Divorce lawyers and family organisation workers often see that the greatest stress is caused by the unknown factors in divorce – the long-term aspects which are suddenly triggered when a relationship ends. For instance, the parent who moves out of the family home may worry that they will not be able to sustain themselves in their new environment. The parent who stays with children may worry about how they will cope financially or how they will fare when they return to work.

Both parents are likely to worry about how their children will react to the divorce, and the parents’ stress may well become a stressor for the children – it can be a rather vicious circle.

Measuring stress in divorce

A study conducted in 1967, by psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, produced the Holmes-Rahe Scale – a tool which is designed to show how likely a subject’s stressors are to make him ill. Using life events to calculate a stress score, the scale quantifies the potential impact of each stressor in a person’s life and then offers a total score – 150 to 300 equals moderate risk of falling ill, while more than 300 equals significant risk of falling ill.

In 2012, licensed therapist and author, Susan Pease Gadoua LCSW developed the Divorce-Stress scale, which, along the same lines as the Holmes-Rahe Scale, gives a score to events indicative of relationship breakdown and the subject’s accumulative score offers a hypothesis of their likelihood to fall ill as a result of their divorce.

While divorce lawyers and health professionals may regard the test with differing notions of its efficacy, the events listed can be a useful indicator of the very varied stressors which may be suffered during relationship breakdown.

Just looking at the list may at least trigger the subject to assess how they are coping and how they may wish to act upon the levels of stress they are experiencing. So, if it makes one person experiencing divorce assess their health, it could be said that the Divorce-Stress Scale can be a useful tool.

Healys family lawyers in Brighton and London taking the stress out of divorce

As members of Resolution it is Healys’ tenet to always approach family and divorce disputes on an amicable, constructive and conciliatory basis, which attempts to keep stress and emotional disruption to a minimum.

We believe negotiation, communication and respect are key in this principle and will attempt to use these approaches at all times, while ensuring that your interests and those of your dependants are maintained at all times.

We are able to draw on the considerable knowledge and expertise of all members of the Healys team, so you will not only receive the backing of divorce lawyers in Brighton and London, but a whole team of legal professionals who have wide-ranging litigation skills which can be extremely helpful in complex divorce claims.

For more information about our divorce and family law services, please call or email our family law departments in Brighton or London today.

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