3 tips to help you manage your divorce journey with ADHD

Divorce is one of the most stressful and traumatic life events that individuals go through. Not only are you dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of heartbreak, sadness, loss, and anger, but the practical elements of divorce can be overwhelming for anyone because there is so much information to process and some incredibly important decisions that must be made around finances, children and living arrangements. 

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How many people are affected?

First let’s look at the statistics, which are thought to be an underestimation - one in seven people are neurodivergent, which is over 15% of the population. About 4% of adults have been diagnosed with ADHD (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence). The divorce rate for couples with ADHD is estimated to be twice that of the general population (ADDitude 2023), which is shockingly high, given that in the UK the current divorce rate is around 42% (The Office For National Statistics 2024). 

The behaviour characteristics that are used to define ADHD - either a persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity-impulsivity, or a combination of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity, can make the journey of divorce a minefield for those with an ADHD diagnosis. 

As well as being an accredited breakup and divorce coach, I also have a lot of experience working with neurodivergent individuals and so the combination of those areas of expertise means that I can offer some help to those of you going through divorce with ADHD.  So here are my three top tips to get you started: 

1. Get support 

Establish a ‘breakup support team’ - a positive and supportive group of people who will help you deal with your emotions, stay focused and get clarity to make the best decisions. Having the right people guiding you will help you concentrate on healing, thinking about your future and creating a path to a better, more contented life.

You may not need all of them all of the time, but identifying them and having their contact details helps to reduce overwhelm and stress. Divorce is expensive and so having the right people at the right time guiding you through can help you save money in the long run. Your support network should ideally be a combination of professionals, and trusted friends/family and might look like this:

  • Family lawyer - Getting sound legal advice is so important. You might find it difficult to open up about your ADHD, but in my experience, it is advisable to tell your legal team at the start that you have ADHD and the associated characteristics you have which may make the process more of a challenge. When you’re going through a divorce there is so much information to take in, forms to fill in and important decisions to make, and if for example, you find that organisation, distraction, multi-tasking or remembering information are particular concerns for you then letting your solicitor know that is useful, so they can tailor how they give you information and best support you. This can help reduce the stress and overwhelm. When you are looking for a solicitor, ask around because some practices have lawyers who are specialists at working with neurodivergent individuals.
  • Financial adviser - The financial side of divorce can be challenging and complex for anybody. I have seen clients with ADHD who have found the worry around sorting out their finances with their ex, as well as fears over future financial security, cause huge anxiety. My advice is to seek sound advice from a trusted professional (such as an independent financial adviser), as very often it is burying our heads in the sand that can cause the overwhelm and getting clarity makes things easier to manage.
  • Divorce coach - A trained expert to help you deal with your emotions and positively support you through divorce. There are many ways they can do that - helping you understand and complete forms alongside your lawyer, and attending legal or court appointments with you. A divorce coach can also help you curate a compelling, exciting future once you come out the other side. This is important because the divorce will end and having someone with expertise by your side as you rebuild, refocus and curate the kind of life you want to live is incredibly beneficial. Again, seeking the help of a divorce coach with experience in neurodiversity can be helpful. 
  • GP, Mental health professional or Counsellor - You may need additional medical support while going through your divorce and keeping up with any medication you might be on, so informing your medical practitioner is a good idea.
  • Family and friends - Choose a couple who are your ‘ride or die’, that you trust.
  • Exercise buddy - Movement is so important to help deal with stress and emotions, having a person that you can walk with, go to the gym with, or play your favourite sport with is vital.
  • Hairdresser/nail tech/PT/massage therapist - People who will help you feel good about yourself. Divorce can knock your self-confidence and self-belief, which may be low anyway. Looking after yourself and giving yourself little ‘treats’ can help. It sounds very trivial but in my experience, it can make a big difference to shift your focus from some of the negativity you’re dealing with.
  • Help around home (e.g. babysitter/gardener/odd jobs) - to help with jobs your ex might have done, so you do not have to rely on your ex for things. It is OK to ask for help and important for you so that you feel organised.

2. Be with your emotions 

Emotional dysregulation can be a common characteristic of ADHD. Individuals may have trouble managing their emotions or emotions can seem more intense with ADHD. People experience a range of emotions while navigating divorce and this can be particularly troubling if you already have difficulties with emotional regulation.

  • It is important to acknowledge and identify the emotions you are feeling and why you may be feeling them at a particular time. 
  • ‘Sit’ with them as they arise, because this helps you to process them and so ultimately heal.
  • Negative feelings will not last, they will ease and go. So even if you feel awful at certain times, it will end.
  • Once you have ‘felt’ the negative emotions, it can help to practise dialling them down in your mind, even by one notch.
  • Learning strategies to shift your focus to something more positive is crucial so you are not overwhelmed by negative emotions.
  • Gratitude is a powerful technique to help you move forward because it calms the mind and de-intensifies the negative feelings you may be experiencing. Create a list of all the things, large or small, that you are grateful for and that make you happy, ensuring you can access it easily when you feel low or stressed.

3. Communication with your ex

There will need to be communication between both parties during a divorce and in my experience, communication with an ex can cause a huge amount of anxiety and stress. Some of the characteristics of ADHD may make clear communication tricky, by way of ‘trying to say too much’ or forgetting what has been agreed, so here are a few strategies that are worth remembering:

  • Use written communication as much as possible, ideally emails. This means there is always a record of what has been agreed.
  • Keep communication factual and avoid sharing personal information with your ex.
  • Keep emotions out of all communications because this can dilute the information you’re trying to convey - stay neutral and use other healthy avenues to vent your emotions.
  • Have a notebook where you write down as they occur any questions you have for any of your professional experts, and make any notes you may want to in meetings.
  • Organisation is important during divorce, so set up some email folders to keep correspondence and get some paper folders to keep the forms and financial information you may need to collate during the process.

Everybody’s divorce journey is unique and personal, but if you add ADHD into the mix, navigating divorce can seem even more challenging. Hopefully, with these tips, it doesn’t need to be. You are not alone, I would love to help you so please do call or email me if you would like to chat about how I can support you.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Cirencester, Gloucester, GL7
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Written by Vanessa White, Relationship and Divorce Coach (Master Accreditation)
Cirencester, Gloucester, GL7

Vanessa White is an Accredited Breakup and Divorce Coach who emotionally and practically supports Clients before, during and after their breakup or divorce, however complex. She combines her unique personal experiences with her certification training to give tools and strategies to help Clients recover and create a positive, fulfilling future.

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