10 Practical Tips for Those Considering Divorce
With the New Year often comes a new start. As the old year comes to a close it causes us to reflect upon the year that has passed and what we want to achieve in the future. The festive period can also shine a spotlight on the difficulties within a marriage. Recent statistics provided by the Ministry of Justice show that 455 applications for divorce were submitted online between the 24 December and 01 January 2019, with a surprising 13 applications submitted on Christmas Day itself! So, if you are considering divorce what do you need to consider in order bring about that separation in a respectful and civilised way. Below are some of our tips;
- Consider whether the marriage is really over. Are there steps you could take to resolve some of the issues in the relationship? There are lots of counselling and therapy services which can help married couples identify the difficulties within their relationship and formulate better techniques for communication.
- Do not underestimate the emotional and psychological impact of divorce. A separation is a period of grief. Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified that there are 5 stages of readjustment which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Make sure you have a good support network in place whether this is friends and family or more formal support through your GP or counselling services. Be kind to yourself.
- Put the children first. Do not exclude them from the process. Make sure that you address the divorce with them directly, ideally together. Giving them age appropriate information can help make them feel part of the process and reassure them that the changes in their family are not their fault. A divorce will mean big changes for the family and it will help enormously if they can see their parents dealing with these changes in a united and civilised fashion. Although you will no longer be a couple you will be parents forever. Make sure that you put the children and their needs at the heart of all decisions regarding their arrangements, future housing and schooling.
- Try to keep lines of communication open. If you are parents you will need to co-parent apart and you can only do this effectively if you can communicate. Good communication can also help you resolve lots of practical issues, help maintain and improve trust and keep legal costs down. If communication is truly stuck then think about using mediation.
- Be careful about who you take advice from. Well meaning friends and family are likely to want to share their ideas about the divorce and their experiences. Often those closest to us are not able to be objective. Every family is different and therefore every divorce is different. Your unique set of circumstances in terms of your family, finances and objectives require an overall resolution that best suits your family. There is no right or wrong solution and no ‘one size fits all’ outcome.
- Get good legal advice. Some early advice can be really helpful. A solicitor can outline the legal process surrounding the divorce proceedings and provide you with a better understanding regarding your rights when it comes to dividing your assets. Solicitors do not just step in when things go wrong or where there is a dispute. Solicitors are in the first instance advisors. Legal advice can help prevent disputes from arising by setting people on the right path to begin with, by providing practical tips for managing your separation and alerting you to any pitfalls or issues that you might not have considered.
- Stay away from social media. Enough said!
- Start putting together your financial information at an early stage. A solicitor can give you advice about the types of information you will need to gather. You cannot make decisions about the division of your assets until you know exactly what they are. You will need to have a clear picture of your capital assets, pensions, income and debts. However tempting, do not take documentation (hard copy or digital) which belongs to your ex. It is their property and is confidential. Taking it is not legal. There is a duty on each of you to provide to the other copies of your full and frank financial information, but do not help yourself.
- Do not make rash decisions. Separation is a difficult time and it can be tempting to just agree things to get it done or bring the divorce to an end because feelings of anxiety, stress, shame, guilt or all of the above are making the process unbearable. However, as best you can, your decisions need to be sensible and rational to ensure that you leave the marriage with the chance of a stable and secure future. Whereas your emotions will subside and heal your financial decisions are permanent and what felt right at the time may feel very unjust in years to come. Give yourself time to make considered and thoughtful decisions and afford your ex the time they need to make decisions.
- Life will get better. It can be really hard to look to the future when you are in the midst of a separation. You will move on, you will get to a place of acceptance and be wiser and stronger for it.
If you need any advice about the divorce process then please call us on 01823 259449.