A good divorce means different things to different people. Good may mean staying friends and being able to go to the pub with your ex or being able to share Christmas together. For others a good divorce may mean exiting a controlling or abusive marriage and having the confidence to start a new relationship.
Having been family solicitors for over 20 years we have experienced hundreds of divorces. Here are our top tips on how to achieve a good divorce.
1. Consider how both of you are feeling
When you suffer a bereavement, it’s generally accepted that there are five stages of grief:
When a relationship breaks down it can be as emotionally challenging and you may find that you are each at different stages at different times. Understanding how you are feeling and how your ex may be feeling will help you understand the emotion that may be behind your interaction with each other or decision making.
Often these emotions have a significant impact on dealing with the practical and financial issues which have to be addressed. Understanding this and where both of you are on the cycle will have benefits for both of you and will contribute to the good divorce you are hoping to achieve.
2. Don’t demonise each other
Relationships end for many different reasons. Sometimes a marriage simply runs out of steam and both sides agree they are better off apart. For others, it may be because of an infidelity, substance abuse, financial issues, or other life pressures.
We all react differently to stress, and you may feel hurt if you ex appears to have moved on with their life and is seemingly coping well with the separation. In our experience whether you are the instigator of the separation or not you will both be hurting and nervous about your future lives.
Try and focus on the qualities about each other which brought you together and try to apply your shared values to your separation. Even if you feel your efforts are not reciprocated don’t compromise your values. When you look back you want to feel you acted with respect and dignity.
Being respectful to one another will help you achieve the good divorce you are striving for and stand you in good stead for your future relationship.
3. Make sure your children come first
Children will cope better with the separation and divorce if their parents can show a united front when it comes to parenting and are are not in conflict with each other.
If you put your children’s needs first, you are more likely to find the middle ground and reach agreement.
There are risks to a child’s future development when their parents cannot get on. For example, if they cannot communicate, or they rely on the child to support their victim status or refuse to accept a new status quo. If a child must choose who to ‘side’ with they risk losing the other parent and they know it. They live on eggshells working out what will please their fighting parents. They can become trapped in an impossible situation, and they cannot be themselves.
For a free resource containing information, advice, and support to help parents as they journey through separation, divorce and beyond we recommend Resolution’s ‘Parenting Through Separation Guide’. You can download a copy of the guide here Parenting Through Separation Guide.
4. Make your metal health and wellbeing a priority
Mental health is so important when striving for a good divorce. Prioritising your mental health and wellbeing can help you cope with the pressures of a separation. This then helps you to move on with your life more easily.
Don’t be afraid to ask for professional support. Whether it is self-confidence or loss of identity or just needing to give yourself time to reflect, life coaches and counsellors can help you move forward.
Also build your support network. Talk to friends and family and make an effort to go out socially or consider making some lifestyle changes and develop your interests and hobbies. A strong support network is invaluable.
For details of life coaches we recommend and other services to help look after the wellbeing of you and your children visit our support hub Our Support Hub – Watson Morris Family Law
5. Be sensible on social media
Give yourself time and space to reflect before reacting to something said or done which you might later regret. If you write an email or message leave it for a couple of hours and then go back to it.
6. Find a good divorce lawyer
Clients can be reluctant to get advice through fear of a lawyer antagonising their relationship with their ex or the expectation it will cost the earth. ,
In our experience both parties taking early advice will equip them with a good understanding of the law and manage expectations. It may also dispel any myths or uncertainties so that they feel confident about talking to each other and negotiating their own agreement.
By taking advice early both parties will also learn about the different process options available to them. There are many alternatives to court that a lawyer can support you with, such as mediation, collaborative law and arbitration. All options should be considered before agreeing the approach that works best for your family. Some cases may need the intervention of the court but even then, a good divorce lawyer should be mindful of the on-going relationship you may need to have as parents or want to preserve with each other, as well as wider family members or friends.
How Watson Morris can help you have a good divorce
At Watson Morris Family Law, we offer technical expertise combined with a holistic and practical approach which will help you implement the above tips when it comes to divorce.
We appreciate that some if not all of our tips might seem unrealistic at a time when life has become unrecognisable, and the future is uncertain but if you remain respectful and dignified in your approach you will hopefully be able to look back without regret.
Written by Caroline Watson
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