The cost of friendship in your high net worth divorce


date published

3rd October 2021

written by

Emma Heptonstall Image

date published

3rd October 2021

In any divorce, emotions run high. It’s only natural – divorce signifies a huge change and a huge loss. Loss of your marriage, and all the associations you have with that. Potentially there’s a financial loss too. 


In high net worth divorces often the focus is on finances. But the risk of loss in your high net worth divorce isn’t just about money. You risk losing friendships and social networks too. In The cost of friendship in your high net worth divorce, we consider the impact of changing friendships during your high net worth divorce. And we look at how to make new friends on your own terms too. 


Cut off from your ex-spouse’s circle? 

When your divorce goes public, reactions can be brutal. And that’s especially true in high net worth cases, where reputational risks can be higher. You may find yourself cut out of your soon-to-be-ex’s family and social circle before you’ve had a chance to take a breath. You may even have PR machines working against you.


Is it fair? No. But it may happen regardless. And there may be little you can do to influence the thoughts and actions of others. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to build bridges when they’ve stepped away. Only you will know what’s right based on your history and the personalities involved.


The one thing you do have some control over is your response. But before you respond, take a moment to pause. Take a moment to consider how you really feel about the people and the networks that have cut you out.


Connect with yourself first 

Spend some time on your own, grounding yourself in your breath. Then let your thoughts turn to any friends and family who have fallen away. Often our gut reaction to any rejection is to feel hurt or betrayed. To rail against the sense of injustice. But you are the most important person to listen to now. It doesn’t matter what other people think. If, once you’ve had a chance to recover from the blow, there’s a voice inside you that’s whispering “phew” about your newly liberated status, listen to it. Just because friends and networks held high status doesn’t necessarily mean they were good for you. 


Is there a sense of genuine loss? If so, take time to grieve. Sadly, the end of your marriage will mean the end of other relationships too. Or a significant change in them. Perhaps you were fond of members of your soon-to-be-ex’s family, and will no longer have the opportunity to be close to them. Or perhaps there were people in social or business networks that you liked, and are now locked out of. You will feel sadness and anger as you process the loss of these connections. Go with it. In time you will come to accept the loss, and will even find that it has created space for new people in your life. But you can’t rush the grieving process.


A question of trust

What about the people who stay? How do you know you can trust them? Who’s staying for their own social or material gain and who is there because they really care about you?


These are questions that can be hard to answer, and I certainly can’t answer them for you via a blog. There are no hard and fast rules to follow. But it is likely that you’ll be able to trust the people you’ve known for longer more than you can trust recent acquaintances. Especially people who knew you before your marriage. 


Another question to ask yourself when considering whether you can trust someone is ‘What do they gain from knowing me?’ Has this person been there for you emotionally in the past, without asking anything in return? If so, they are more likely to be a trustworthy friend than someone who has leaned on you to open doors, or to provide financial help.


Learn to trust yourself 

Before you embark on an audit of all your friends, family, acquaintances, and staff for trustworthiness, turn inwards. Trust starts with yourself first. Ultimately you are CEO of your own life, and your divorce too. That means you need to be able to rely on yourself and own your decisions. 


It can be hard to trust yourself, especially if you’ve been surrounded by people-pleasers, advisors, and sycophants for a while. But this divorce offers you an opportunity to recalibrate. It’s a chance to reconnect with yourself and your own voice and values. What do you want your future social circle to look like? How do you want to spend your time and energy, and who with? 


Rediscovering who you are and what matters to you is a rewarding process, but it can be challenging too. That’s why I highly recommend you engage the services of a coach or therapist. Choose someone who you connect with, and who is also experienced in working with high-net-worth individuals. While human emotions are universal, some of the struggles you’re working with are not. You need to make sure your professional team understands your landscape so they can help you navigate your own way forward. This is exactly the work I do with my 1:1 clients. 


Building new circles

The cost of friendship in your high net worth divorce means starting afresh. When it comes to rebuilding your social network during and after your high net worth divorce, do it with a future focus. Create a clear vision of what you want your future life to be like, and the people you want to have within it. This will involve setting boundaries for yourself. Learning what you can tolerate from those around you, and what’s unacceptable. And then learning to set out and enforce those boundaries.


Paradoxically, just as you don’t find happiness by seeking it, you often don’t make new friends by doggedly striving to. What do I mean by that? Well, if your end goal is to ‘get new trustworthy friends’ you may well find everyone you meet falling short. Just as if you spend the day trying to be happy your brain will spend all its time looking for things going wrong.


Instead, focus on your values and goals. Focus on the areas of your life that bring you meaning. Whether that’s in championing a new cause, throwing yourself into a business endeavour or a home-making project. Do the things you find fulfilling and look out for the people who are similar. Who are attracted to similar causes, projects and goals. These are the people who are likely to be your future friends. And then it’s a matter of letting them in – while of course maintaining your boundaries. 


Know I’ve got your back

When it feels like your life is crumbling around you the world can be a lonely place. Especially when you have the legal and financial complexities of your divorce to manage too. That’s where I come in. I have a deep understanding and empathy for the difficulties you face as you navigate your high net worth divorce. 


I can provide highly personal, confidential 1:1 support, seven days a week. Whether it’s debriefing after meeting with your legal team, or working through a divorce plan so you can face the future on your terms, I can be by your side through it all. You can book in an initial, confidential consultation here to find out how I can help you. 

About Emma

Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the author of the Amazon best-selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of  The Six-Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit


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