Coming to a decision to separate, get divorced or having that decision announced to you, has many consequences and will bring many reactions and emotions, as with any other loss. Whilst the end of a relationship can for some understandably be overwhelming, how you approach and resolve the issues stemming from a breakdown will play a significant role in your future and how well you move forward.
Using our experience, we have devised a list of practical points to hopefully make a difficult time a little easier and assist you in how to best manage problems which frequently rise.
Focus on what is best for the children
- Children deserve a happy and secure childhood with both parents in their lives. Conflict can sometimes play a key role in a separation but witnessing conflict can be very confusing and distressing for children.
- Protect children by not speaking negatively to them about your partner or involving them in any details about your separation.
- Agree how and when to tell the children about the changes to the family in an age appropriate way and be consistent in the messages that they are given.
Concentrate on the future and not the past
- Remember you have a future. Things may not have worked out in the way that you had planned or hoped but it does not mean that you have failed. You should not feel humiliated or embarrassed about what has happened. These are all normal emotions that will fade. Learn to find yourself as an individual again and give yourself time.
- During a relationship breakdown, people can act out of character due to the situation and say and do things they do not mean. There can be a lot of hurt when a relationship fails. Think about the positives of what you had together and about the present and moving forward.
Try to have open communication and be amicable
- Talking about things calmly and objectively can resolve important issues quickly giving you a sense of security and peace of mind. Whilst it may not always be easy, try to remain amicable. Working together for both your benefits and those of the children will support you emotionally and practically.
- Research suggests that getting angry doesn’t really help in the long run. Anger is likely to cloud your decision making and prevent you from being able to see things clearly.
Avoid using social media to discuss any difficulties
- However tempting it may be, do not succumb to writing comments about your partner on social networking sites.
- Court proceedings are confidential and you may be held in contempt of court if you post any details about court proceedings on social media.
- Try to avoid muddying your partner’s name amongst family and friends.
Obtain specialist legal advice
- It is important to know what your rights are to ensure you achieve the best outcome for yourself and the children. You may feel overwhelmed by the important decisions you need to make, therefore take care to choose your solicitor and take time to consider their advice.
- We appreciate clients worry about legal costs, however spending money on an hour of good sensible advice will be money well spent and is likely to give you a plan for moving forward and a sense of being in control of some of the decisions you need to make.
Avoid employing an aggressive lawyer
- It is important to avoid employing a very aggressive advocate who promises the earth but ends up costing you an arm and a leg. Employing an aggressive advocate who ends up accentuating any negativity and difficulty between you is very unlikely to be in best interests.
- In reality if you have children with someone you will need to have an ongoing relationship with them and it can be very difficult if an already fragile relationship is damaged further and potentially forever by aggressive lawyers.
Be realistic and open to compromise
- Being realistic is one of the most vital attributes. Any settlement must be fair and provide for both parties. Think about what is an important priority for you and don’t be looking to ‘win’ or ‘point score’ at every opportunity. The chances of getting everything your way are very small. There are two people in the process who might have different perspectives.
- Consider attending mediation to discuss your separation, the children and your assets. This will support you in coming to an agreement about the way forward.
- Agreeing matters through negotiation and attending mediation rather than going to court can also keep costs down.
Try and agree what is to be written in court papers
- If there is a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership trying to agree what is to be written in court papers is the recommended way forward and avoids there being a nasty surprise for your partner when the papers arrive through the letter box.
- If you both know what is being said and you are content with it, then this can only support any opportunity you might wish to have of being able to work together through the process. You both know what to expect and you might feel that you have both had some input into the explanation of why the relationship has come to an end.
Be open and honest with financial disclosure
- Where there is property to divide and assets to share the starting point is to understand what you have jointly and separately. Be open and honest about the things that you have and get together information about their values. Bring everything to the table.
- Don’t breach trust and undermine discussions by attempting to hide what there is or refusing to provide details. Once you understand what your assets are worth, you can then talk about a fair way to share them.
- Do not try and dispose of any assets with a view to defeating any interest your partner may have, this is potentially a very serious matter and the court is likely to have a dim view of such conduct.