This week has traditionally been known as “Divorce Week”, when divorce rates rise after Christmas. In the past, this was put down to the stress and pressures of Christmas, when extended family visit, and sometimes outstay their welcome, causing one side or the other to decide, enough is enough!
In other cases, marriages may already be feeling the strain before the festivities arrive, but the couple are keen to avoid starting the process before Christmas, particularly if there are children involved.
Whatever the reason, and no matter what time of the year, the end of a marriage is stressful for both spouses and children. Everything needs to be re-thought, from living arrangements and parenting schedules to the more complicated decisions about property and money.
The emotions caused by the changes can make it difficult to understand the legal process of divorce. In some cases, it can seriously impair people’s ability to make sound decisions.
Getting through any divorce isn’t easy, but by following some simple advice it can help you through a very difficult and stressful time.
1. Nobody “Wins” A Divorce Case
A lot of people start divorce proceedings wanting to “beat” their former partner. But there is seldom a true winner in divorce.
There are usually a lot of issues to decide upon, such as child arrangements, maintenance and the division of money and property.
Rarely do both sides get everything they want and winning shouldn’t be the end goal. Rather, a fair distribution and support for any dependents should be the priority. When it comes to the children, a calm and fair decision is better for both sides.
2. Stop and Think
You are going to making many life-changing decisions during a divorce, such as whether you are going to need to sell the family home.
Resist the impulse to jump in quickly with any decision just to get the divorce over and done with. When making important choices, it’s essential that you think through all the potential consequences.
3. Don’t Use the Children
It’s easy for a divorce to get heated. But saying things about your spouse in front of the children, or using them as a bargaining chip won’t help you in the long run.
Psychological studies show that the more parents fight during a divorce, the more damaging the whole process is to the children.
Unless there is a history of abuse or neglect, or a court order preventing contact, your children will continue to have a relationship with their other parent. You might be upset with them, for whatever reason, but it is not helpful to discourage or interfere with a healthy parent-child bond.
Children’s counselling can really help them come to terms with the situation. And can be extremely helpful as well for adults during the stressful time.
4. Every Divorce Is Different
Friends may tell you how their divorce went. But every divorce has a different set of issues. It’s best not to base your decisions on someone else’s experience of divorce, but instead, rely on the advice you get from your solicitor, who is far more familiar with the specifics of your case.
5. Think about the bigger picture
It’s easy in a divorce to get hung up on the insignificant matters, such as who gets the TV or the Netflix account. Try not to let small things dominate and think through the bigger picture.
Concessions on minor issues mean that you can spend more time sorting out the important stuff.
In the same way, it’s important not to dwell on the past, worrying about why it happened. Instead, focus on moving on with life and making the decisions that are right for you and the children.
6. Settle before Court
When things go really badly, one side or the other may wish to terminate negotiations and be heard in court. It may be tempting, particularly if you feel you are being unfairly treated, but it will cost, and in more ways than just financially.
Better to negotiate sensibly and agree everything together, before subjecting yourself to the stress of a court judgement
7. Make use of Mediation Services
There are plenty of ways to resolve divorce cases. Mediation is one method that can work, where a neutral third party specially trained to work in divorce cases facilitates face-to-face negotiations between you and your spouse, and helps you work out a mutual agreement relating to child arrangements and finances/property.
Sometimes, court really is the only way to resolve an issue. For example, if there has been a case of domestic violence against you or your child, or you need immediate financial assistance from your spouse, a court order can be the best option.
In these circumstances, it’s best to accept the fact and talk to your solicitor about how they can help.
8. Be Honest With All Parties
Your solicitor will need all the key facts, so that they can analyse your case and give you all the appropriate advice.
Be aware, that if you hide something, the facts may well come out anyway. For example, your spouse may discover that you have been hiding money or assets from third party investigations or by reviewing documents.
If that is the case, your failure to be honest and up front, may harm your ability to get a good result.
Additionally, you can face serious penalties and incur substantially increased costs if you fail to disclose full information to the court when your divorce case is presented.
9. Make an Inventory Of Goods and Make Copies of Important Documents
You can avoid many disputes by taking a complete inventory of your shared items. This includes, furniture, furnishings and other valuable items. Take photographs of items and try to value your items as well.
It’s also important to make copies of important documents as soon as you decide to file for divorce, or learn that your spouse is doing so, as well as revisiting your will.
10. Be Reasonable About The Outcomes
It’s not uncommon for divorcing spouses to have goals that are completely unreasonable or inconsistent with the law.
If you want your divorce case resolved quickly, you need to understand how the law applies to you and your case and have a reasonable expectation about the outcome.
For any questions about this, consult with a specialist solicitor to get a better understanding of the potential outcome for your divorce case.