Divorce Settlement - Legal Advice

How To Successfully Divorce

You know that separation is on the horizon and most likely the questions on your mind are “what should I be doing now to help win this difficult battle that lies ahead?” “How do I secure the high-ground from which to negotiate and so that I’m better able to protect myself?

We are going to need two separate blogs to cover this fully and that is because we need to go back a few steps to answer the questions and, ultimately, realise that this mindset is what is most likely to make the fears that lie behind these questions a reality. What, is generally needed to secure the solutions that we all crave to achieve a good transition is an approach of empathy and respect. 

The 7 areas of divorce and separation

You can conveniently think of divorce and separation as a problem which has seven parts:

  1. The Relationship
  2. Emergencies
  3. Children
  4. Finances
  5. Separation and divorce
  6. Process and costs
  7. Other issues (for some)

Expanding that list a little further below:

  1. The Relationship – involves focusing on addressing the storm of emotions and concerns that arise for anyone at the end of a relationship, seeking out the stability you need to be better able to focus upon your options and starting to take the first steps towards the future and recovery. For some it may involve an exploration on rebuilding and finding a new way to go forward together. For the majority who have reached the stage of contacting us, it will be about coming to terms with the past, addressing the trauma of the split and recognising the need to build a positive future relationship:
    a) to negotiate the various issues you face and; b) to maintain the constructive parenting relationship your children need from you.
  2. Emergencies – for those in a coercive controlling relationship, there will be a focus on safety for all family members including any children. Other emergencies may be precipitated by unilateral steps taken by one, for example around money or children. Protective injunctions may need to be applied for.
  3. Children – all children are uniquely attuned to their care-givers: their well-being depends on it. They are usually more aware of what is going on than many parents would ever guess. For most people entering this chapter of their lives, their children are their first concern: how do they support them through the chaos of separation, how do they find a good transition and positive lives for them at the end of it all?
  4. Financial issues – if you share a home with someone, particularly if you have children together, you are likely to have mingled your lives in numerous ways. For separation to take place, the resources you have need to be separated to enable each of you to find your independent futures.
  5. Divorce and separation – the process of ending the marriage is usually simply a long administrative one but it is usually routine and ought to be managed inexpensively. Separating may have happened already or may be a co-operative and easy proposal (once structured well for any children). But for others it is very complex: pulling away and escaping the control of someone who does not want to let go, and will require considerable focus thought and planning.
  6. Process and costs – the court structure imposes outcomes. This will be the best route for some.  For others this approach is a slow, intrusive, expensive and a complex option for finding an outcome. You will need information about the alternatives and how might these different choices play out for you. Which option suits you best?  A crucial element will be the cost of it: you will need clarity around what must be funded when and choose a path that you are able to see through to the end.
  7. These separate elements are all connected

The benefit of breaking things down in this way is that you are able to really focus on each area and work out how to manage it for the best.

The danger is that these are not isolated compartments and should not be thought of as such. As you burrow into the detail of the options in one area, you will quickly realise its connectedness to others: the problems of one part may generate problems in another. For example, a strategic step that you might use to win the financial dispute, may well have significant impacts on trust and so your endeavours to build towards the sort of arrangements that you want as regards your children. Indeed more and more you are likely to find that each element has an impact on all the others: a bit like a mobile, twitching one part sends movement shivering into the others.

For example:

  • If the split happens in a chaotic way that projects either side into emergency steps – that is how this journey will start;
  • The impacts on the process are obvious: more aspects are more likely to be litigated, with its high cost (in terms of emotion and time, as well as spending) of legal process. Experience tells us that this may well be across the range of issues, from different aspects of finance to a range of parenting disputes; and 
  • This means that options are usually narrowed to the court agenda and of course beyond this the spend on legal fees reduces the resources available for the financial futures sought on each side; and
  • Then there are the impacts upon the quality of parental co-operation. 

So what you see is that there is a real risk that the accidents of how things unfolded at the start will set the tone for the entire post separation chapter and the importance of the first steps we will look at in the next part of this two part blog. 

What we learn from the above is that we need to have two perspectives in operation: 

  1. the detailed and focused one on the specific arrangements in each area
  2. but then a more landscape-setting where we are able to hold in mind the wider impact of those detailed choices that could be made. 

We then refine and upgrade our final decision because of the impacts on progress overall. In part two of this blog, we will look at how this structured approach provides a guide as to what next steps to take for the best.

At GoodLaw Solicitors, we offer unrivalled expertise across all aspects of financial settlements and the arrangements for children upon the breakdown of a relationship. And we will work with you to select the best way forward for your particular case, providing first rate legal guidance and clarity around your options. If you require further information about anything covered in this blog, please contact our Family Department on 01273 956270.