A new day has emerged in the calendar in recent years for family lawyers – Divorce Day, or D-Day for short. Not of course to be confused in any way, shape or form with the historical day itself. How or why has this day evolved and does it really exist?
Many will say it is the invention of PR men and women as a media opportunity signifying the first day back in the New Year when the greatest number of unhappy couples decide to start the divorce process. The jury is out as to whether or not this is accurate with a number of reasons being given for increased enquiries in this week. It may just be part of a new trend of giving names to certain days e.g. “Black Friday” and for us locals – “Mad Friday!”
It is right to say that with the dawning of a New Year inevitably comes thought around personal planning, aspirations and hopes for the coming year. There are those who will decide to permanently change their lives and relationships. Such decisions may have far-reaching consequences and there is no doubt that a great deal of thought will have gone into it. So what next? A decision is made – but what’s the plan? The plan needs to be well thought out. How a separation is approached will greatly influence its success or otherwise and the outcome. If we were all robots with no feelings, the process of changing life would be so much easier. But we’re not. Experience shows that these very personal situations can be made much worse by taking the wrong path from this point onwards.
One of the best pieces of advice is to keep talking. Not to a solicitor particularly but to each other. Anything that can reduce what is causing dispute will reduce timescales, emotional pressure and just as importantly any costs. Even if agreement cannot be reached on everything, being able to keep an open line of communication will inevitably reduce the areas of disagreement. In talking to each other – maintaining composure and respect is a must. Things may have been said and done in the past which were not really meant. There can be a lot of hurt but concentrating on the positives can help concentration on the future.
Keep things in proportion. Weigh up the amount of money you may be spending and the emotional energy it takes to disagree. Be willing to compromise and consider conceding something which is less important if it means achieving something else that is more important.
Good legal advice is a must – even if it is limited to one meeting. There is really sensible and good advice out here. Listening and becoming informed can help formulate a plan, give goals and will be the best money spent. Choose the solicitor carefully. Going by reputation is always a good starting point but make sure they specialise in divorce work and have membership of the Family Law Panel by the SRA and/or are members of Resolution. Experienced solicitors have the knowledge and the skill needed and will be efficient in moving things forward quickly.
Look for representation on a fixed fee basis. Fixed fees give certainty on costs and enable comparisons for the best deal. Initial meetings can be had for a set price. A word of warning is that some fixed fee packages may appear too good to be true and result in additional costs in the long term. Make sure there is clarity about what is included within the money being paid. While cost is a very important consideration it should be considered alongside reputation and expertise when making a choice of representation.
Think what legwork can be done instead of asking the solicitor to do everything. They will work and provide support in whatever way is needed but if information is required then limit costs by obtaining it.
If faced with disagreements and sometimes there will be, it doesn’t necessary mean that there will need to be court hearings. There are still options available which are less costly and time consuming and there will be choice in choosing the best one for the situation.
And as it is New Year – remember there is a future ahead. Life may not have worked out in the way that was planned or hoped but it does not mean to say that there is failure.
So maybe D-Day does exist but in a different sense to that being promoted. D-Day, or should it be Decision Day, may stand for and symbolise the many good and sensible decisions that have to be made which will have a direct impact upon the future – whether it be personal, emotional or financial.