5 top tips for tackling divorce
By Josephine Hayes
With statistics showing that around 42% of marriages end in divorce, it’s important to realise you are not alone and there is a wealth of information and organisations available to help people who are experiencing relationship breakdown. Be proactive and seek legal advice early. Being informed can only help you through the process.
Following these practical tips can help to minimise the financial implications and emotional difficulties caused by separation:
1. Know your options
If you are considering separation make sure you consider all the options available and take advice. It’s important that you are sure divorce is the best way forward before you begin a life changing process.
A lawyer can give you further information about informal separation, judicial separation, divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships. Even if you are only making initial enquiries a confidential discussion about the options available can leave you in a better position to make a decision.
2. Do your homework
If you want to minimise legal costs and help your divorce run smoothly then preparation is the key. Prepare a written summary of your situation including key dates and events, keep a diary and locate or obtain a copy of your marriage certificate as this will be needed to get divorced.
Preparing a summary of your finances can be a great benefit. List your household assets, income, outgoings and debts and obtain details of any mortgage, pensions, policies and investments at an early stage as this can speed up the settlement process and enable your lawyer to provide clear advice. However, be careful not to take confidential information belonging to your spouse as your lawyer isn’t allowed to see it and even taking copies can have drastic consequences.
3. Prioritise your children
However hard it may be try to remember that your children need both parents. The separation will be difficult for your children too and they may need time to adjust to the new arrangements. Try to come to an agreed arrangement and communicate amicably to help your children through the separation. If the children see that you are still getting along it can be of enormous benefit to them. Court proceedings should always be a last resort.
Family consultants, mediators or child psychologists can be a great help in minimising conflict and redrawing the boundaries to enable you to co-parent more successfully.
4. Consider other types of support
If you’re uncertain about the way forward or you’re experiencing difficulties consider speaking to a therapist, counsellor or family consultant as well as your lawyer. A collaborative approach to relationship breakdown often puts you on a more emotionally stable footing and can help to maximise the benefit of your lawyer and minimise unnecessary costs.
5. Don’t dwell on fault
Once you have established that the marriage has come to an end try not to focus too much on placing blame. This can be difficult, particularly when you can only get divorced if you have been separated for at least two years or if you allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour. It is never easy to read a list of things your spouse doesn’t like about you but try to remember that divorce is a means to an end and fighting over the contents of a divorce petition is often an expensive and upsetting waste of time.
Divorce and financial settlement are treated separately by the courts. The general rule is that even if a divorce is on the basis of adultery or unreasonable behaviour this will not have any impact on what financial settlement you will receive.
At Barker Gotelee we offer a free initial consultation for anyone who is experiencing a relationship breakdown, wishes to consider separation or divorce and who needs some help and advice.
Josephine Hayes is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.