There’s no ‘right’ way to get divorced – every couple and every circumstance is different – however, there are certain ways to make the process easier, as well as attitudes and behaviours that make the whole thing a lot worse… Remember that you are in control of how you react to the situation, and it’s up to you how you go about resolving your disputes.
Here are some dos and don’ts from our family law solicitors to help you cope with the challenges of divorce in a positive, productive way:
DO: Try to stay objective
We know how hard it can be to be objective when you’re going through separation – no matter how amicable you and your ex plan to be, it’s natural for emotions to run high – but the best way to get through the process is to keep a cool head. Try to detach yourself from the emotional side of the situation and treat it more like a business negotiation. Stay respectful and don’t cause unnecessary arguments out of spite. When you let your emotions take over, you’re more likely to act irrationally or make questionable decisions which inevitably lead to costly delays. Stay objective and rely on the expertise of your solicitor to keep you on course.
DON’T: Try to do it yourself
DIY divorces may seem attractively cheap and quick but in the majority of cases they fall short when it comes down to the nitty gritty aspects of separation. Most people who use a DIY option end up seeking professional legal help anyway, so you may as well by-pass the stress and confusion of trying to navigate the legal system on your own and get yourself an experienced solicitor in the first place. If your circumstances are fairly straightforward you may only need legal assistance for some of the process, but it’s always best to have the support of a legal professional. Failing to do so may mean you end up back in court months or years down the line to fix a DIY error that could easily have been avoided.
DO: Get organised
Get your paperwork in order as early as possible and keep an accurate account of your finances and debts – both as an individual and as a couple. This includes mortgages, rental agreements, bank statements, credit cards, tax returns, investments, insurance policies, property documents and anything that could be deemed an asset or a liability. Always print off documents if possible, as you may not be able to access digital accounts if your ex decides to change the password. Having all this information together is the best way to help your separation run as smoothly as possible, and provide your solicitor with everything they need to help you to negotiate a fair settlement.
DON’T: Hide assets
Never try to hide finances or assets from your ex or solicitor. Non-disclosure is considered fraud and can result in penalties, such as freezing assets, an adjustment to a financial settlement, or having to pay the other party’s legal fees. If you believe a certain asset or portion of your finances should not be eligible for the shared ‘pot’ then it is up to you and your solicitor to provide adequate proof, but hiding financial information is never the answer.
DO: Keep communicating and ask for help
The most important part of separation is communication – whether that’s with your ex, your solicitor, or your support network. You’re not alone, and you should never be required to make decisions without the advice of a legal professional. Keep talking, try to be as fair and collaborative as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. There are several out-of-court options for couples who don’t want to take their case to court, including mediation, arbitration, and collaborative family law, all of which are based on cooperation, communication, and practical dispute resolution.
DON’T: Keep living together after adultery or unreasonable behaviour
If you are citing adultery or unreasonable behaviour as the cause for your divorce, it’s important to make separate living arrangements within the first six months. If you continue to live together after this time, you will not be able to use adultery as the reason for separation, and your claim of unreasonable behaviour will be more difficult to prove.
DO: Prepare for life after separation
Going from two incomes to one, selling your home or moving house, organising extra childcare, dividing up your assets… Divorce can have a big impact on your life and finances, even if it’s only in the short term. It’s important to prepare for the changes and budget accordingly – not only for the cost of divorce but to adjust to life afterwards. Cut down on your spending, take stock of your incomings and outgoings, and create a realistic budget based on your estimated income post-divorce.
Facing up to the reality of separation can be scary, but the best way to tackle things head-on is with the support and advice of an experienced solicitor. For a free 45-minute consultation, get in touch with the friendly, down-to-earth family lawyers at Frances Lindsay & Co and let us take the weight off your shoulders. We offer legal services across Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, including Windsor, Marlow, Gerrards Cross, Maidenhead, Beaconsfield, and High Wycombe. Visit www.franceslindsay.co.uk or call 01628 634667 to book your appointment and find out how we can help.