The delays to the Family Courts may have put a bit of a halt on divorce proceedings but that doesn’t mean you can’t make progress with your separation. A large part of the process comes down to proper preparation, negotiation, and communication, which means there are plenty of things you can be doing to help your case move forward towards a resolution.
Here are 10 ways to prepare for separation:
#1 Don’t make any rush decisions
It’s natural to want things over and done with as quickly as possible once you’ve taken that first step, but the separation process takes time and it’s never a good idea to rush into things without first taking a step back and looking at your situation objectively. Take some time to reflect on how you got to this point, what you want from the future, and how best to tackle any potential disputes you may need to deal with along the way. ex.
#2 Get professional legal advice
Your next step should be to get in touch with an experienced solicitor to discuss your situation, look at your options, and get a little more understanding about what happens next. Your solicitor is there to advise and guide you towards the best solution for your circumstances, so use their expertise to help you feel more confident about your legal rights.
#3 One step at a time
There are so many variables to consider, from living arrangements, to finances, to children’s issues, to who gets the family pet, and when you try to tackle everything at once it can feel overwhelming. Take things one step at a time. Make a list of questions to ask your solicitor, issues to discuss with your ex, and practical tasks you can tick off, one by one.
#4 Get your paperwork in order
One of the first things your solicitor will ask you to do is to put together a list of your assets, liabilities, and financial circumstances. This includes banking information, savings, debts, income, pensions, businesses and investments. Preparing a budget can be particularly helpful in figuring out how your incomings and outgoings will be affected by separation, and how best to ensure a fair division of assets.
#5 Understand your options
Court divorce is not the only choice for separation. There are several out of court alternatives that – especially at the moment – are considerably faster, cheaper, and potentially less stressful than going to court. Mediation, arbitration, and collaborative family law are all approaches that allow you greater control over the logistics of your separation, and focus on cooperation and negotiation. But if you feel the need for a more judicial approach, a private hearing could be a more effective option while the Family Courts catch up on the backlog leftover from lockdown.
#6 Keep children at the centre of family decisions
If you have children, every decision you make should be based around their wellbeing and welfare. Finding a way to co-parent effectively after divorce requires cooperation, understanding, and communication. And laying the groundwork now can help things to run much more smoothly later on. Try to set aside your differences while discussing children’s arrangements, and come to a decision that is best for your children – whether that’s where they will live, how much time they’ll spend with each of you, and how you will manage maintenance costs.
#7 Know your property rights
Before you make any decisions about moving out, selling up, or changing your living arrangements, ensure you have a clear view of your legal rights when it comes to property. Our blog on housing issues offers a helpful breakdown, and your solicitor will be able to give you personalised advice on your unique circumstances.
#8 Update your personal details
It’s worth doing a spot check of all your personal details, accounts and logins to make sure your data is private and up to date. For example, if you are living separately, you may be eligible for benefits or a council tax discount. You may also want to change your passwords on any banking apps or social media accounts and be careful about what personal information you post online.
#9 Keep communicating
A huge part of a successful, amicable separation is clear communication and a collaborative approach. Try to understand the other point of view and compromise where you can. Stick to the facts and the practical aspects of your situation rather than getting drawn into emotionally-charged arguments or nitpicking over the tiny details. Of course, it’s not always that simple – but even something as simple as finding a way to discuss issues with the minimum of animosity is a good first step. For example, if you struggle with talking on the phone with your ex, keep your communication in writing, via emails and texts. And remember you can always ask your solicitor to liaise with your ex’s legal team if communication becomes impossible.
#10 Look after yourself!
Don’t forget the importance of taking a break from all of the above. Your emotional and mental health is more important than your paperwork! Reach out for support you’re your friends and family, seek professional help if you need it, use the expertise of your solicitor, and know when to step back if things are getting too much. You will get through this, no matter how long it takes, and one day it will all be behind you.
If you need more advice and information on separation, or would like to book a free 45-minute family law consultation with one of the friendly, down-to-earth solicitors at Frances Lindsay & Co, please get in touch. We’re here to take the weight off your shoulders, every step of the way.