Oftentimes, we hear about how divorce affects families regarding children’s well-being. But, conversations concerning the adult’s guilt after a divorce are not typically shared. Guilt from a divorce can take a toll on someone’s mental and emotional well-being. In my experience as a Bergen County New Jersey and Monmouth County NJ divorce lawyer and family law attorney, I have witnessed this scenario first-hand. In my observations, here are some ways that I have seen clients overcome feeling guilty after a divorce:

1.Own It

In my view, the first step in getting over a certain life situation is to first admit it, then accept it. Own it! Fully accept the fact that you are newly divorced, and try not to feel ashamed about it. Sometimes, things do not work out the way we plan for them too. It is understandably difficult to try to manage your emotions and your children’s emotions, simultaneously. Take time to process the guilt, forgive yourself, and do not allow it to overcome your emotions. Talk to family members, friends, mental health professionals, or members of a support group whom you trust. 

2.Develop a Journal

There are many benefits to journaling, including stress relief, improving mood, and prioritization. Studies reveal that journaling also strengthens and improves mental functions by helping the brain regulate emotions. When you feel guilt approaching, find your notebook and a pen, and freely write about whatever you are feeling at the time. Be as unfiltered as possible. If you feel you need to “scream” on paper, you have my permission to do so! Writing helps you to express yourself creatively while keeping everything in perspective. Set aside a dedicated time and space in your home to journal your thoughts to help process the guilt caused by divorce.

3. Heal and Move On

To avoid getting stuck in an endless cycle of divorce guilt, it is important to continue moving on. Don’t get this confused with “staying busy to avoid feeling guilty.” After you have processed your emotions and taken steps to heal, continue moving forward. Remain positive and press forward. When you can look back on the past, and not feel negatively about your spouse and your situation, that is when you know you are fully healed. Learn from the past, embrace the present, and make wiser choices in the future.


This article contains general information and opinions from Sheena Burke Williams and is not intended to be a source of legal advice for any purpose. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information included in this article without seeking legal advice of counsel. Sheena Burke Williams expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any content in this article.