Liza Caldwell’s Four Stages of Divorce

Liza Caldwell: Stages of Divorce and How to Move Through Them

The only constant in life is change. – Heraclitus

Life is full of transitions: heading off to school, landing a job, moving cities, meeting new friends. We usually embrace the bridges between these changes with “welcome week”, new employee orientation, new hire packets, get-to-know you mixers, even a welcome wagon. The US Postal Service will send you coupons for everything from moving vans to wallpaper if you tell them you’re moving. Transitions are a time when we all stand up and say, “how can we help”?

Why don’t we treat divorce—one of life’s biggest transitions—the same way?

This week, I spoke with Liza Caldwell, cofounder and director of SAS For Women, graduate of Fordham University with an MA from Columbia Teachers College where she studied Gender and Leadership Development. She’s trained in transformational coaching and she’s a certified professional coach and recognized by the International Coach Federation.

We’re going to be taking a deep dive into Caldwell’s work this month—and it’s really a rich landscape she has sketched out for the process of divorce. It’s a “one-stop shop” for people embarking on the divorce journey. She embraces divorce as a “whole life change”, not simply a legal or financial issue.

The Four Stages of Divorce

One of the most liberating things about Caldwell’s approach to divorce is that she breaks it up into manageable stages. And you’re only ever in one stage at a time. You pass from one to the next as you process your feelings and thoughts. Her approach also speaks to the universality of the divorce experience. No matter what the specifics of your case may be, they do fit into a process that everyone who is going through divorce can relate to. It’s nice to know you’re not alone.

Stage One: “Something is Wrong”

Caldwell describes this as “a spiral that goes around and around and around with no end. It’s a kind of a black hole.” Caldwell says that at this point, you know something is wrong—there may be a voice in their head—that’s telling you something is wrong. But for some reason—work, family, an image of what you thought you would be—you are overriding that message. Then, at some point, there is a trigger where you decide you can’t take any more. It compels you not just to act, but to see the whole situation differently. It’s this trigger that pushes you to the realization that something has to change.

Stage Two: Hitting the Trigger

Stage two, according to Caldwell, is when you jump into action. It’s time to interview professionals like lawyers and case workers to see who’s a good fit.

Stage Three: Something is Changing

Stage three begins deep into the process, in fact, it may come after signing your divorce papers. You may even be in different cities! But that doesn’t make this step easy. In fact, without the constant reminder of what’s wrong, this may be a hazier, more difficult step to reconcile with.

Stage Four: New Normal

If you have done the hard, soul-searching and healing work that the first three steps require, stage four is a solid new beginning. Caldwell calls this “the new normal” where you’ve rid yourself of the toxic people in your life and you’re ready to start your new life—armed with a new attitude.

This month, we’ll look more in-depth at Liza Caldwell’s four stages of divorce and the path to truth and recovery she

If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.