Dealing with a divorce is never easy but Elizabeth Ford, a family law solicitor and mediator at Phillips Solicitors offers ten tips to help make the process as smooth and amicable as possible.
1. Take time to consider your options
Consider Relationship Counselling such as with Relate to see if there is anything you can do to make your relationship work, as after all, starting divorce proceedings is a life-changing decision.
If counselling does not work, at least you know you did everything you could to save the marriage. This may also help your spouse accept that the relationship is over if you are the one instigating the separation.
2. Get legal advice
It is important to have a full understanding of your legal rights and responsibilities. Having an idea of what the divorce process involves will help you feel much more in control and less anxious. Write a list of questions to take to your first appointment; no question is trivial or irrelevant.
Think about instructing a solicitor who is a member of Resolution as they will focus on trying to reach an amicable solution with an eye on the needs of the whole family.
3. Be cautious of what others say about their divorce experience
Your friends may share their experiences and give you advice about what should happen in your case. Whilst well-meaning, this could be misleading though as every divorce is different. Don’t forget that you are paying an expert solicitor to advise you.
4. Gather your financial information
You and your spouse will need to share financial information with each other. If possible, work together to gather details about your income, property valuations, mortgages, savings, pensions and debts. If you cannot do this together, write down what you can recall about the financial arrangements during the marriage.
It will be helpful to have this information readily available so that your solicitor can consider your potential settlement options.
5. Keep communicating with each other
This will be a very difficult time but maintaining open channels for communication can make planning your futures much easier. Make a written note of what you have talked about to remind you both.
Don’t forget that, if you agree a financial settlement, you should also take professional advice about it as the agreement will need to be approved by a Court before it is legally binding.
6. Mediation is often helpful
For many people, mediation is a quicker and cheaper option for resolving family difficulties about children or finances than going to court. It empowers separating couples to make their own decisions together.
We can refer you to a local mediation service or you can choose to come directly to Haymarket Family Mediation, which is part of Phillips Solicitors instead if you prefer.
7. Avoid social media
Avoid posting information about your divorce and children on social media. It is easy for other people to get too involved and this is only likely to make it more difficult for you to find an amicable solution.
8. Your children come first
Try to avoid arguing in front of the children; they will hear even if you think they are asleep or in a different room. Where possible, talk to your spouse about how you’re going to explain your separation to the children. Tips to help you talk to your children at this time can be found online from CAFCASS and the Gingerbread charity.
9. Update your personal details and entitlements
You should check to see whether you are making the right claims for benefits including Child Benefit, the council tax reduction if you are living separately and Universal Credit. There is a free calculator on the Entitled To website that is comprehensive and easy to use.
10. Look after yourself
Remember to look after yourself as it is sometimes easy for this to be pushed to one side when there is so much going on. Looking after your physical and mental health is essential to enable you to manage the separation so get support from family and friends and if necessary, consider professional help from a doctor or counsellor.
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This article is current at the date of publication set out above and is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.