With the new law on “no fault” divorce, many couples are entering the divorce process without “the blame game” colouring their decision-making. However, while a divorce can be a break-through, rather than a break-up, getting through a divorce may be easier if you are informed about the process before it begins.
The following article provides a few tips from our experienced family law team to help guide you through this difficult time.
- Do Not Expect to “Win” Your Divorce Case
A lot of people start their divorce hoping to “beat” their spouse in court and frequently decisions are driven by a desire to prevent the other party from “winning”. In fact, there is seldom a true winner in divorce and it is rare that divorcing spouses end up with everything they want.
It is a harsh fact that the resources previously funding one household will now have to fund two separate households and this will impact on both parties. Remember, your children may suffer the most in a heated divorce battle and, after the dust has settled, you may soon forget who “won.”
- Do Not Make Important Decisions Without Thinking Them Through
Many life-changing decisions come up during a divorce.
For example, you may have to determine whether you need to sell the family home. Resist the impulse to make a quick decision just to get the case over with. When making important choices, it is essential that you consider the potential consequences.
When a marriage ends, spouses and their children often face a perfect storm of stressful events: new living arrangements, parenting schedules, and of course, decisions about property and money. The emotions caused by these changes can make it difficult for spouses to understand the legal process of divorce, and may even impair their ability to make sound decisions.
- You are Getting Divorced: Not your children
It is easy to get wrapped up in the heat of the moment. However, saying cruel things to your spouse in the presence of your children can have a lasting effect. Psychological studies show that the more parents fight during a divorce, the more damaging the whole process is to the children. Whenever you are about to say something hurtful, give yourself some time to think before you speak. A simple rule to follow is to count to ten before you answer a question or make a statement.
In addition, unless there is a history of abuse or neglect, your children will continue to have a relationship with their other parent. No matter how upset you are with your spouse, you should not try to discourage or interfere with a healthy parent-child bond. You may want to consider arranging counselling for your children to enable them to work through their feelings about the divorce and/or seek counselling for yourself as well.
- Do Not Believe Everything Other People Tell You About Their Divorce
Your divorced friends may give you advice about what should happen in your divorce.
Unfortunately, the information and advice you get from other people can be misleading or wrong. Every divorce has a different set of issues. Your friends may believe what happened in their divorce is typical, but it is best not to base your decisions on someone else’s experiences. Instead, rely on the advice you get from your solicitor who will be familiar with the specifics of your case.
- Forget the Past. Prepare for the Future
Obsessing about all of the bad things you feel were done by your spouse during your marriage will only prevent you from moving on with your life and making decisions that are in your family’s best interests. Try to forget the past and focus on the future. Approach the divorce with a willingness to work with your spouse to achieve the best possible result for your family.
You may get hung up on relatively insignificant matters, such as how to divide the DVD collection. Again, this may be because you or your spouse cannot let go of a past hurt. However, this approach will increase the time (and legal fees) it takes to complete your divorce. Make some concessions on minor issues, and you can spend more time on important matters, such as when you get to see your children.
- Court is Not All That It is Cracked Up to Be
When things are not going well in a divorce case, one spouse may threaten to terminate negotiations and head to court. However, the road to a Final Hearing in divorce is long and costly. The expense can deplete the very assets that are the subject of the dispute and, after spending many thousands of pounds, you are still left with the uncertainty of how a judge will rule.
- Consider Alternatives to Court
Most people think all divorces end up in court. In fact, there are alternative ways to resolve divorce cases. One method is “mediation” in which a mediator (neutral third party specially trained to work in divorce cases) facilitates face-to-face negotiations between divorcing spouses and helps them work out mutual agreements.
The mediator will recommend that each spouse consult with their own solicitor on the implications of any agreement reached.
However, the parties’ solicitors will not attend the mediation sessions. The greatest benefit to choosing mediation is that they enable divorcing spouses to make their own decisions. In dividing parenting time, for example, a judge might choose a standard schedule that is used in many other cases. In mediation, spouses can structure a parenting plan that best fits their children’s needs.
Sometimes, however, court is the only way to resolve an issue. For example, if your spouse subjects you or your child to domestic violence, you will need a non-molestation order. Or, if you need immediate financial assistance from your spouse, you might have to ask the court for an order that your spouse pays you interim maintenance (termed “maintenance pending suit”).
Sometimes the fact of the matter is that you need to go to court.
- Be Honest
You need to provide your solicitor with all key facts so they can advise you properly and give you appropriate advice. The parties are required to disclose complete information and documents regarding their income, expenses, assets and debts. If you hide something, the facts may very well come out anyway and then your failure to be up front may have already harmed your case and your ability to obtain a good result.
- Have Reasonable Expectations
Sometimes divorcing spouses have goals that are completely unreasonable or inconsistent with the law. If you want your divorce case resolved quickly, you need to understand how the law applies to your case and have a reasonable expectation about the outcome.
This is the value of consulting a solicitor to get a better understanding of the potential outcome(s) in your case.
- Do Not Rush into a New Relationship
It is easy to get involved in a new relationship “on the rebound” and the stresses of the divorce process may put new relationships under strain.
If you start living with your new partner it will have a bearing on the financial arrangements and you may be asked to disclose information regarding your new partner’s financial position.
Every separation and divorce is unique and this article is general advice only.
Our family team of lawyers offer a one-hour consultation for £95. You can get specific legal advice that is appropriate to your situation and this will help you plan your next steps. Please do not rely on friends, or internet research. The peace of mind you get from a solicitor looking at your personal circumstances is well worth the investment and 95% of people are very happy with the outcome of these fixed fee consultations.
You can reserve this meeting by phone on 0118 958 9711 or here
Please mention fixed fee family law consultation to our receptionist when calling.