Dealing with divorce in the new year

Too far from one another. Nervous angry young couple sitting on opposite sides of sofa keeping silen

No matter how hard, try to keep a line of communication open with your partner - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As we end the first week of 2022, Mary Pearce, who heads the family law team at Ashtons Legal, shares her advice for dealing with the divorce process. 

Perhaps not the seasonal message that you would want to hear, but there is a tendency to wait until after Christmas before sharing the difficult decision to divorce with one’s partner. For both the giver of this message and the recipient, the likely result is months of emotional turmoil and uncertainty, but the reality is that life will go on and with help it is possible to live through this experience. Here are my ten top suggestions for actions you can take that will have a positive impact:

  1. Make sure that you have a supportive group of friends and family around you to help you through the good and bad days that will follow. 
  2. No matter how hard, try to keep a line of communication open with your partner.
  3. If the stress gets too much, do not be shy about talking about your health with your GP.
  4. Try to keep the children of the relationship away from any dysfunction that may be going on between you both.
  5. As hard as it might be, do not do anything which may damage or undermine your children’s relationship with the other parent.
  6. If it is viable, do talk with your partner about the possibility of counselling, this can help drill down whether a reconciliation is possible and, if not, help you part graciously.
  7. Consider going to mediation to discuss how practical and financial aspects of ending the relationship might fall into place.
  8. Get legal advice about what your financial settlement might look like, but understand that the lifestyle that you had during the relationship is unlikely to be sustainable after it. 
  9. Make a list of all your debts, assets, and pensions. Calculate your income from all sources, and prepare a budget so you are clear what you are spending.
  10. Take things one step at a time and do not rush or get panicked in to decisions that you might then regret.  

There is helpful advice online about the divorce process, but each set of circumstances is different and therefore there is no substitute for discussing your position with an expert who can tailor the advice to your specific situation. 

I like to ensure that anyone seeking advice about separation and divorce is able to have an initial discussion free of charge. This can help you to decide what to do next and offer reassurance and certainty.

The anxieties that you might have about the cost of divorcing can be addressed by looking at the options on offer. You may well feel daunted about trying to deal with the process yourself, but equally you may have to look at your certainty in relation to the legal cost of getting divorced.

It is therefore important that you choose legal advisors who offer a number of costs options, some involving a fixed cost or discounted fees for payment up front. This will give you one less thing to worry about as the divorce progresses.

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In some circumstances you or your legal advisors may suggest a more bespoke service, but it is important that you have these discussions so you are clear on what the whole process is likely to cost.

When dealing with one of the most stressful events you might ever encounter, you also need to feel that you are able to have confidence in the advice you are given and a good rapport with the person providing it. Doubt is something that is best avoided in your relationship with your legal advisor.

For most families Christmas is a time of care and closeness but for those whose Christmas has an unwelcome ending, you need to remember that the ending of one year may well prove to be the start of a different but hopefully better one.

If you would like individual advice, Mary Pearce can be contacted on mary.pearce@ashtonslegal.co.uk or 01284 732117. Alternatively visit www.ashtonslegal.co.uk to find out more about our family law services.

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