When you separate, whether you made the decision alone, you decided jointly or the decision was made by your spouse or partner, understanding where best to start is a minefield. In this episode, we speak to a panel of divorce professionals about the best place to start and what you can expect from each of them.
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Tom Nash – aka Mr Divorce Coach, is an internationally certified Coach, specialising in Divorce, Separation & Family Coaching.
He is a child of divorce, a divorcee himself, a father, step-father & successful co-parent of his own blended family.
Tom works with men, women & couples, assisting in their emotional well-being, positive mindset and practical support through a clients divorce/separation.
Sarah is a specialist family solicitor and managing director at Nicholls Solicitors.
Sarah has extensive experience in all areas of private family law and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in family finances and child arrangements. Sarah most commonly deals with divorce, financial relief and children matters. Her cases on financial relief often involve complex business and foreign assets. Sarah has good working relationships with specialist barristers, financial advisors and other experts to call upon their expertise where required.
Sarah is also regularly instructed in respect of pre and post nuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements.
Sarah has recently completed ‘what about Henry’ training with a clinical child psychologist to better understand how to support families and particularly children who are dealing with family separation.
Client’s and colleagues recognise Sarah’s personal, down to earth and sensitive approach but she is someone who is not afraid to fight for clients’ to ensure a fair outcome. Sarah is regularly recommended and has built up strong reputation in the family law field.
Tamsin is a Chartered Financial Planner with over 20 years experience. She works with couples and individuals who are at the end of a relationship and want agree how to divide their assets FAIRLY without a fight.
You can contact Tamsin at email@example.com or arrange a free initial meeting using https://bit.ly/SmDiv15min. She is also part of the team running Facebook group Separation, Divorce and Dissolution UK
Tamsin Caine MSc., FPFS
Chartered Financial Planner
Smart Divorce Ltd
P.S. I am the co-author of “My Divorce Handbook – It’s What You Do Next That Counts”, written by divorce specialists and lawyers writing about their area of expertise to help walk you through the divorce process. You can buy it by scanning the QR code…
(The transcript has been created by an AI, apologies for any mistakes)
Tamsin Caine 0:06
During today’s episode, we’re going to talk about what you should do when you are first separated. So whether this is a shock to you, or whether it’s your decision or whether it was a joint decision, we’re going to consider what you should do best, and who you should speak to, and what you might be feeling and where you need to go. So I really hope that you’ll find this episode useful. Let’s jump right in.
Hello, and welcome to the Smart Divorce podcast. I am delighted to be joined today by two of my fabulous colleagues, the lovely Sarah Birdsey and fabulous Tom Nash. They’re gonna introduce themselves properly and formally in just a second. My name is Tamsin Caine. I am a chartered financial planner, and resolution accredited specialist. And I’m going to be your host today as we talk a little bit about what you should do when you first separate. So that could be whether your partner has announced that they think you should split up whether you’ve made the decision or making the decision that you think things are not working, and you should separate, or whether this has been a joint decision. So I’m going to start off asking my guests to introduce themselves. So it’s lovely to have you back with us on the podcast. How are you?
Sarah Birdsey 1:37
Very well. Thank you. Thanks for having me again. I’m Sarah Birdsey. I’m a Family solicitor resolution specialists accredited practitioner, and I deal with all types of the legal aspects and dealing with separation. So dealing with divorce, financial relief matters, and Chad applications..
Tamsin Caine 1:58
Fantastic! And fabulous Tom in his lovely yellow chair, how are you? Thank you for joining me again.
Tom Nash 2:07
Hello, everyone. I’m Tom Nash, otherwise known as Mr. Divorce coach, or the very few male divorce coaches around in the UK. And my remit is actually working with divorcing clients, men, women and couples through the emotional, psychological and practical side of their separation and divorce. So all the stuff that sits outside of the legal and financial sphere, around how we operate, how we survive and thrive and get through and come out the other side of people improve their communications between the parties, their co parenting, not just their plans, but actually their structure, how they operate, and then had been before the outage process.
Tamsin Caine 2:45
Fantastic. Thank you, Tom. And I am going to come to you first as Ipromised I would. Because it seems to me that if your emotions are running away with you that making really good decisions is going to be somewhat tricky. So my suggestion would be that on separation rather than running straight to a solicitor or mediator, that actually people would be better off running straight to you. And I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on that.
Tom Nash 3:20
You said it again, whether you’re the party that has ended the relationship or whether it’s been a shock to you, or even if it has been a mutual and somewhat of an amicable agreement and discussion. You’re all going to be going through your own stuff, emotionally and internally. And when you’ve got high emotion, we’re not engaging frontal lobe and logic. It’s about helping to slow down some of the pace. But a lot of the time and again, you guys in your professions and illegal advances we have find this as well. Whether it’s a decision to be made by you or for you. We panic and we become reactive and it’s touching his drawers and what do I do at banipal? Like we’ll do because just we’ll just reach out to our nearest and dearest and the people around us will pay attention to some of the car crash stories that are out there that we’ve heard from our mate Dave, or down at the school gates or whatever it might be. And we instantly go right how do we build a wall around us and protect everything. But actually it’s about slowing things down. It’s a long process formally practically, financially, emotionally to get through this. Give yourself a bit of time give yourself but a space can be a bit of a break and just slow things down and process things that are going on for you understand why certain things are impacting you in a certain way. And then also as you build the right team around you and find out who are the right connections and get that right support across emotional, legal and financial. So you can start making more congruent thought out decisions that ultimately the decisions you make really early on, leaving practically or financially are going to be life impacting. So it’s really important to consider those early choices that are going to be going on going through the rest of your life, particularly if you have to.
Tamsin Caine 5:14
Yeah, absolutely, totally agree with you there, I think. I think it’s not a race. And, you know, certainly the way that some clients react and not all but some clients reacted, it’s like, right, this has happened, now I need to get on with it, I need to put myself in their, our position. And, you know, I need to be in control of, of this. And perhaps because I’m a bit out of control in other sections of my life, I’m going to be in control of this and run straight to it straight to get help. Before I pass on to Sarah, Tom, do you find it It’s very different in the way that that people deal with it, whether they’ve been the person making the decision, or the person having their decision made for them, or whether they’ve decided as a couple of those three situations, do they? Do they present differently to you?
Tom Nash 6:14
Yeah, every situation is as unique as the next, no, any given situation is the same. I have clients come to me who were the ones that decided to enter marriage as I did. And as a common misconception that the lever rides off into the sunset or unicorn, happy as Larry, but actually, they are also going to carrying a lot of stuff, there’s going to be a lot of their own version of upset, guilt, shame, whatever it might be for them. I know that that’s what I felt about. Not having a successful marriage, about it falling apart, for whatever those reasons are. And actually carrying that weight of like an investment business, like fear of failure, right? I can fix this, we can make it work. Likewise, the people who it’s a shock to right, again, it is a complete shock and an Out of the blue, their instant panic mode, or are they already in denial fu this has been coming for some time, but they just haven’t communicated effectively. So there’s a whole host of different ways that it impacts people in all different ways and shapes and forms. And even with the most amicable situations where I work with couples who maybe come to me to understand how they can go about at least scaling when possible when not go down a bit of contentious, litigious route. Even in that scenario, the most out of all situations, it still took one person to stick their head above the parapet and say, Hey, I’m sorry that this isn’t working, even if the other person instantly agrees. That actually takes a lot of courage to do that to step out there and be the one to take the lead on that is really, really scary. And you typically find that for the person who’s making the decision. Yes, whilst they’re already, let’s say further down the road than the Berlin party, that is a shock to yesterday have processed a bit more of that. And then it got to that point of making the decision. But they have still had to go through quite often a lot of internal conflict and turmoil to get to them. It’s not learned that you’ve just woken up on a Tuesday morning. Rather than do that now. There’s a systematic build up. And there’s a lot going on for them physically, emotionally, I hear all the time that people that whenever I did, where people are having panic attacks, and that their health is deteriorating, and other negative things, drinking too much whatever it might be as avoidance. But any food is safer for that person. It’s a shock to where their hopes and dreams and where they thought they were has changed in an instant. And all their fears instantly come in around, where am I going to live? What’s my life going to look like that isolation, that loneliness, that weight and pressure of not having anything prepared or understood or thought about. So it really does impact people in so many different ways. And the thing that I was kind of trying to help people remember is everybody’s going through their own event at their own experiences at the same event just differently. They’re helping to understand where we’re all coming from.
Tamsin Caine 9:11
Excellent advice that I am gonna come back to you because a million questions to ask you. But I’m gonna speak to Astaire for a minute about the legal aspects. So I’m absolutely positive that lots and lots of people come to talk to you before they’ve done anything else in a bid to take some control to gather information to kind of allay some of those fears that Tom talked about, by by seeing you know what position they are actually going to be in. So, if if a client comes to you, freshly separated, what what, how do you start, where does the where does the process begin? What what you can do with them first.
Sarah Birdsey 10:01
Yeah, so I think that they, you know, in terms of the emotional side of things, that is a huge factor in our last time set, whether it’s that person’s decision, if it’s that person’s decision, they very often they’re feeling guilty, and they have had much longer to come to terms with things. And so there may be more prepared in terms of, they want to know, reached endpoint, they want to press ahead with the divorce, and they want to finalise things, and they’ve got more, maybe more of a plan, they saw in their mind, for the party that this has come to, you know, as a shock, they’re usually in complete panic mode, and thinking, you know, how am I going to live? Where am I going to live? What’s going to happen? And so they, you know, they tend to have hundreds of questions. And so they, they come to me, you know, usually in some sort of an emotional position. And so, yes, you know, I will provide them with advice and next steps, but, you know, I do sort of say to them, that you need to just have a breather, you know, you need to just think about this, get your emotions in check, because you can’t be making rash decisions, you know, you can’t rush into this. You know, as Tom said, it’s, it’s a long process, and these are really important decisions that are going to affect you for a long time. So the emotional side is really important. But in terms of looking at, you know, how do we start this process, it doesn’t need to go in stages, there’s, you know, I suppose the first step is, okay, well, is everybody safe, you know, are there any domestic abuse issues that we need to put in place or look at to make sure that everybody’s safe, while everybody’s in such a high conflict, you know, emotional situation. And then it’s looking at the short term, you know, like, whilst this process is going, going on, where is everybody going to live? How are we going to manage the finances, who’s going to pay for the food, and, you know, who’s gonna look after the children, and what basis and all that sort of stuff, and, you know, and then once you’ve got those in place, and people are a bit more settled and a bit more calm, then it’s looking at them, or long term position,where, you know ,we’ll look at the finances, let’s look at the figures, let’s look at how this is going to play out in the longer term, and, you know, that involves getting financial advice. You know, getting all that disclosure, looking at all of the options and getting advice on all of that, but, you know, it needs to be done, calm, the, you know, in that sort of calm setting. And, and I, I quite often say to clients, you know, they want to rush, they want to say, like, let’s make this offer, you know, on a financial settlement, for example, and I’ll put it off and say, Look, just take at least take the weekend, but this is what we’ve talked about, this is the offer you want to make, go and just take the weekend, have a think about it, have a breather, you know, speak to other people or speak to your coach or your counsellor in and make sure that you’re happy with all these decisions, because these are really important decisions that will impact you for a long time. And if the clients who, you know, are feeling guilty, quite often we find that they, you know, they feel guilty, because they’ve made the decision to leave or, you know, they feel that, you know, it was their fault that the marriage broke down, they, you know, sometimes feel that they have to compensate for that, you know, by offering a bit more or taking a bit less, because they feel guilty, but, you know, years down the line when they come to retire, you know, and they haven’t taken as much potential as they should you know, that that’s going to impact on them, and they’re gonna look back and think, you know, I should have I should have been more careful, perhaps. So, you know, just taking a bit more time. Are they in or not rushed into them?
Tamsin Caine 13:39
Yeah, absolutely. What? So somebody comes to you, initially, and there are so many options, I think this is the confusing part of of divorce now is like, do I go to a solicitor? Do I go to mediate it? Do I go to a coach? Do I go and speak somebody financial, like, I’m most scared about where I’m going to live and how I’m going to pay the bills, and what’s going to happen to my children? And I don’t know, all of these people that I’ve seen on Instagram, where I should start. So how do you navigate that Sara? As a as the, probably the person that gonna start with?
Sarah Birdsey 14:22
Yeah, it just depends on the situation and what the issues are, really. And I think it’s for us to sort of signpost people, you know, there are situations where you straightaway you can see mediation would be ideal for you know, this, this family because of the nature of the issues and the situation. There are some situations obviously, where there’s domestic abuse involved or mediation isn’t going to be an option and so you can rule that out with them. And you can signpost them to a coach where you can say, Look, this is going to help you because you know, clearly you’re in this really difficult situation, and they can support you because they still think You can, obviously Tom can, you can expand on this, but I still think a lot of people maybe don’t know what the role of the divorce coaches or don’t know about them, it’s still quite a growing sort of area. So, you know, it’s our role really to give the clients all of those options and explain how they fit in and how they might fit in, in their situation. You know, and give them that legal basis to say, look, this is the process, these are the steps that we’re going to go through. And this is where we need to get to, but you’re going to need advice along the way from you’re going to need that support from your coach, emotionally and to help, you know, with with various aspects of it. And you’re going to need financial advice in terms of looking at, you know, what your needs are, what you can borrow in terms of a mortgage, the pensions, getting advice on that aspect of it, you know, and we sort of, I suppose we’re there in the middle, just piecing all of that together, and, you know, to get them through the legal the legal process.
Tamsin Caine 15:58
Yeah, absolutely. Tom, I think it might be useful to understand when somebody comes to see you, whether it’s an individual or a couple, what, what process you go, you go through what, where do you start? What, what are they going to experience when, and the currency term fit, as Sarah says, you know, divorce coach is relatively a new thing in this country. Now, it’s been around in the US for a lot longer, but we’re just starting to kind of branch into that into that area, I think it’d be useful to understand what spot they’re gonna get from you.
Tom Nash 16:35
Yeah. Again, can also it’s all going to depend on very on what stage the client is there. And I have a couple of clients at the moment that have come to me and Michael, the pre phase, so decision that we’ve made that decision or action and decision, they’re still trying to run back. So there’s still that confusion just around what do they actually want?That they’re like..
Tamsin Caine 16:53
Yeah, if we assume they’re at the point if they’ve already made, made, but they’re right at the beginning,
Tom Nash 17:00
but they’re right at the beginning? Yeah. Again, they they’re looking for a space to unpack steal a lot of those thoughts. Understand that find out what they don’t know. And what do they need to know? Sometimes, part of my role is helping to connect them with the right people with the vast view costs. United times across, we’ve heard several times, several zoom books, and actually a bit more of these, these podcasts, sometimes about helping them to connect to the right people understand what do they actually need? Not what are they assumed? They need, so that when they actually need to start, what stage are they actually sell them understand the process and some practicalities that isn’t just legal, but just overall, how they’re going to get through this. But ultimately, it is helping them unpack all of those thoughts and get to some of those wider decisions. And a lot of the time I get I hear this a lot from family lawyers across refer to me and mediators, where a large proportion of their role is outside of the legal sphere, and actually is they’re not there to act as a proxy coach or therapist. And then I think, differentiating the two for me because I had a capstone for my divorce and we trained coaching obviously, the, for me, traditional therapy or counselling, fantastic resource, but for me, it’s a lot more rooted in the past traumas and the history, the wise, PTSD, clinical impressions. Okay. I find a lot more of my clients come to me when they’ve got a lot of this say that they understand a bit of how they’ve got to where they are, the bit that they’re struggling with, what do I do now? To how do I go about it? What are my options, but also part of me that I love that coaching is actually it’s quite challenging rather than by I’m your friendly critique, in a way you are empathetic critique, and is to say, right, okay, so if you take this path, this path of this path, what are the potential outcomes, and eventualities? So what are your choices, your different approaches, both legally practically, from an emotional standpoint? How can that play out and cause other reactions further down the road? And for a lot of people that come to me at that phase with decisions, we made this deal early doors, what they want to know is how can I get through this in the least scathing way possible? How can we still do this in a respectful manner? How can we stay away from the pitfalls, the bitterness, the one upmanship as well? And a lot of times, it’s also about helping people be a bit more accountable. The bit that again, a bit that they can control, if you’re going into certain situations, with that business coming through their actions and behaviours are saying one thing that do in other root causes conflict internally for them as well. And then it’s also exasperating situations as well. So a lot of that is also helping them to understand how do they actually want to get through it Then how are they going to do it better, as well. And also help them to understand about what, what may be coming further down the road. Because again, you’ve got people are worried about those fears, but they don’t know. And we catastrophize. So it’s bringing it back down, making it bite sized and manageable. So it’s not this big, scary mountain, they’re gonna climb all in one go. And just help them understand what they can do along the way.
Tamsin Caine 20:24
Yeah. So from what you’ve said, and I don’t want to put words in your mouth. So correct me if I’m talking nonsense. It sounds to me as though if you’re dealing with past traumas, if you’re if you’re struggling with the actually coping with it, then a counsellor would be would be a good place to start. But that actually working with a counsellor and a coach is not is not out of the question and wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea. Because you’re dealing with the past and, and giving yourself a pathway for the future as well.
Tom Nash 21:00
Yeah, absolutely. And I think, also looking at, it’s really important to get the rapport with the person that you’re going to be working with, whether it’s your lawyer, whether it’s your financial planner, whether it’s your code. And looking at, what are there other options that they can provide? Right? So I know Sarah, as well as a number otherwise, that will lay out those legal options and say, right, that is mediation. And then there’s all the different types of mediation, you’ve got Collaborative Law, you’ve got arbitration, you’ve got all these other alternative dispute resolution options, much the same as, let’s say, looking at a coach, for example, do they purely sit within the coaching sphere or is there other attributes that they can bring to it so for example, I’m also most practitioners don’t call during Western programming. So your conscious subconscious communications, self esteem, building, shifting mindset, things like that, cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy and timeline therapy, so I kind of met so psychological treatments for building self esteem, building confidence and overcoming emotions, whilst also putting in the practical steps as a coach. So I kind of sit somewhere in the middle of the day, if you want to differentiate them out, that’s you have a client with one of your other normal guests, I’ve spoken on here before, where they’re looking after the trends. So therapy side, and I’m looking after the practical moving forward part of the process. And it’s a bit like so as soon as toxic Hong Kong shed and damaged me a couple years ago, tragic love. So think of it this way, you’re walking down the road, you get to the crossroads, which is where your torso separation is from, and you’ve got all these different avenues in front of you, that the analysis use was that the therapist or counsellor comes over and helps you open the suitcase, take everything out, get rid of the stuff you don’t need, and pixie goes back together stuff you do need, what the coach does is then comes and helps you pick that suitcase up and walk down the path that you want to go down and differentiated. But in the way that you want to. And that that I was forced by a nice analogy.
Tamsin Caine 23:04
Get that I like that. Oh, my pinch that. Sorry, say we’re all gonna be pinching it and using it No. Sorrow, one of the things that that I get get asked a lot alone, no doubt you get asked a lot is probably as the kind of separation is happening. Is this should I move out? Am I am i doing myself damage from a legal perspective, from a future settlement perspective? If I move out, into into some sort of rented accommodation, for example, I’ve seen so many couples struggle on living in the same house, because they’ve been advised that there’ll be a problem if one of them moves out it that it’ll cause them difficulties in making a financial settlement later, and it will be good to get some No, it’s really difficult and then a good to say it depends because because that’s always the legal. But if you can give us some guidelines as to what it depends on that would be amazing.
Sarah Birdsey 24:21
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it depends. But yeah, it is something that’s asked a lot and I think that the couples that that stay in the same house to think that they run the risk of not being able to have that space that you need to just get that clarity in your head you know of where you go in and what you’re going to and and I think they run the risk of rushing into decisions because they just need to get the house sold. You know, let’s just agree this because just need to get out of this situation. And it’s incredibly difficult to go through this very emotional process while you’re still living under the same roof. Unfortunately, you know, a lot People don’t have an option, you know, they have to, they have to deal with things that way. But if they’ve got the choice to do that, I think it’s, I think it’s so beneficial from, you know, just an emotional point of view to be separate in the separate homes where you have that breathing space, and you can really just take time for yourself to think about what the future looks like, what it is that you need, you know, and how to achieve that. And in terms of the impact that it has, you know, it doesn’t, it doesn’t affect the settlement in terms of, you’re still entitled to, you know, your fair share of the matrimonial assets. Really, I suppose, from a practical point of view, the difficulty that it can have is the if the person that stays in the house, for example, if they don’t particularly want to sell the house, and they want to be difficult, and they want to drag their heels, you know, if they’re the only one that’s different in the house, then from a practical point of view, it can make things more difficult. But it doesn’t mean that the House will be sold, if that’s what you know, the outcome is, and, and ultimately, there can be applications that can be ordered, as made by the courts of needs be, you know, to make sure that the property is sold, that’s what’s what needs to happen. And so from that point of view, it can make things a little bit more difficult. But, you know, moving out in itself isn’t necessarily going to affect, you know, your share of property, because you’re still entitled to what you need, is still entitled to a fair share of those assets. So, so my advice is, usually if you can do that, and you can both manage, you know, two households you can manage with your incomes, then it’s beneficial to do that. So you’ve got your own breathing space, and you can be any you’re not in a rush to reach a conclusion, necessarily.
Tom Nash 26:55
Yeah, there’s been a growing trend in the UK again, saying this from the start, but in the States, there’s been a growing trend. And again, I don’t know if this is more also with the recent kind of economic changes as well of nesting arrangements in the UK.
Tamsin Caine 27:10
Yeah, you can they need to explain what a nesting arrangement is.
Tom Nash 27:14
A nesting arrangement from practicals. But legals, obviously Sara let you do that. But is effectively where the children stay. If you have children stay in a matrimonial home or family home is the parents that are interchangeable. So dad’s there, let’s say Monday through to Wednesday, hypothetically speaking, on Wednesday, when he goes to work and mom goes to work on Wednesday evening, mom comes back and goes somewhere else for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and they interchange move around, they have a separate location, whether it’s rented friends, family, whatever it might be, that it stain, but it again, phrasing what Sarah’s saying about an opportunity to effectively start the process of disconnection, psychological, emotional disconnection, as well as practical, start to get a bit of space, but it keeps the children in the same spaces, the change to them is minimum, almost zero. It also gives really good insight for parents to understand what’s going to be done with it and children in the months and years of follow when they’re transitioning between the two types. If you get to get a feel for real life, what it’s like when you’re not at the family home, you forgotten that pair of shoes, or whatever it might be one big one as well, to kind of ask a question, because I’ve only ever answered questions on your podacast, I’ve never asked any.
Tamsin Caine 28:25
Absolutely. You’ve been on enough times now. Let’s start putting it
Tom Nash 28:37
Same kind of question that somebody was asking about maybe out of the family home, but not when it’s related to finances, because I get being is one of very few medicals coaches purely by default, not by design. Predominantly, my client base is male workers on desk. And that question actually typically isn’t even about the finances. When they’re asking me it’s about if I’m move out the phoning home I’ve been asked to leave etc. Is that going to change? My opportunity, not my legal rights because it brings responsibility in listing, but isn’t going to change or have an impact my opportunity to find our equity based doesn’t necessarily move the I’m not talking about stats, but my opportunity and equity to have an equity parental time with my kids, if I’ve moved down on the family home.
Sarah Birdsey 29:24
Yeah, I think you definitely need to have, you know, arrangements in place where an agreement base as to what time you’re going to be spending with the children, when you move out, if that’s the decision you make, because you run the risk of if there’s no agreement, or if there’s a dispute over that. Once you move out, then then you’ve sort of got the uphill struggle as to, you know, sort of almost fighting for time to spend with the children. You know, and obviously, they’re settled in the family home. So I think if somebody’s going to move out the property, there needs to be that agreement in place before they do that. because otherwise, you know, as we know, if you’re, if you can’t reach an agreement, you have to go down the roots of mediation or court to make those arrangements. It’s such a long process, and by then the children get into their own different routine, and then they don’t want to settle that routine. And, again, we could go down a whole rabbit hole here of, you know, the problems and issues with that. So yeah, from that point of view, you definitely need to try to have an agreement in place before you do move out. You know, if that can’t be done, then, you know, you have to weigh up, you know, is is it better to move out and to alleviate that stress, you know, on everybody, and keep trying to work on that, that child arrangements or, you know, try to get a formal agreement or formal order in place in it before you do that?
Tamsin Caine 30:54
Sounds arrangements are an interesting thing, aren’t they? Because they tend to my understanding is that the courts tend to prefer you to have dealt with them yourselves out of a kind of legal situation and out of having a legally binding agreement. What What the What would your kind of starting point be with with child arrangements? Sara would? Do you send them clients or refer clients to somebody like Tom in those situations to try and get the couple to talk with somebody else who can help them to put a plan in place or more, usually, by the time you get involved as it gone? Way past? Being able to, to arrange something like that?
Sarah Birdsey 31:43
No, I mean, the ideal is that they would, you know, work together to work out those arrangements. And so, yeah, referring to someone like Tom, or to mediation, you know, either of those sorts of routes to try to co parent, you know, and work effectively, on those solutions is absolutely the best point. And sometimes, I suppose it could go either way, sometimes the parties can agree on, you know, the child arrangements, and they’re quite clear on all of that. But it’s the finances that are more difficult or more contentious, or it can be the other way around, you know, then they’ve come to an amicable solution about the finances, but category and the charge arrangements. But certainly at the outset, I think people tend to want to do what’s best for the children, I just obviously have very different views on that. And, and sometimes it’s, you know, it’s dictated by the practicalities of it, you know, one party might work away a lot. And, you know, that sort of determines, then, you know, on a practical level, this is how it how it needs to pan out. But certainly, you know, the initial phases, it’s always the hope that the parties can can work with somebody, or, you know, just work together in order to reach that agreement. And that’s always by far the best outcome. Yeah, absolutely.
Tamsin Caine 33:07
Tom, in terms of what you do, compared with what mediator does, I think it might be useful just to just to mention that because I think there is some misunderstanding, perhaps about what mediation is, and how mediators differ differ from this sort of work that you would do with a couple trying to make a parenting plan.
Tom Nash 33:33
So when I’m working with couples on a co parenting plan, is the schedules of where little Timmy is, on what days actually is barely any of implements is a fraction of it. And actually, to be fair, that part of you, they usually help people get through quite quickly. The, the my approach and what I do and working couples in this series, little bits of homework that they get sent away with both separately and then combine it is actually get them to start. And I say this to them that we’re going to get into the business of co parenting is a misconception. And co parenting means that you necessarily have to be friends and get along. It doesn’t. It’s just so I do with my ex. But again, that’s taken several years and a lot of work from everybody for their own paths. But it’s just about being cooperative, and collaborative auxilary and supportive. Doesn’t have to be the manager of the process. You just need to be willing to facilitate your signing. And a lot of what people’s fears are is about alleviating that control. See as a parent, particularly to the parent hasn’t been let’s say the primary carer. I wasn’t in my scenario, but there’s there’s things I needed to go and learn to do. So some of the early stuff that I do with people is okay, so what are the parts that you haven’t taken responsibility for previously and again, a nurturer of caring role and vice versa. Where do we need to start differentiating Some of those responsibilities and actions, so that kind of stepping up to the plate equally. But if you get people when I say about looking at the business co parenting if you get them to build a co parenting code of conduct, like a company handbook, you know, when you join a new company and things are notes, I’ve had people call it a code of ethics or whatever it is. And again, working with clients differently around what suits for them. What I’m helping them look at is get back to Sunday core parenting not coping with their core parenting approaches and values, where they want to instil for their children, what lessons in life lessons and take, for example, humans or they want to produce effectively, get back to the crux of it, because we can help people remember that even though the romantic relationship has come to an end, they’re still going to be connected for the rest of their lives, not just this is the other thing about co parenting when you are here. 5050 all the time. co parenting is 100 100. It is not 5050. It’s about both of you being committed to the support and growth, loving care of these tiny humans. It’s just how you’re going to go about it. So Dennis looking at, I get into some real deeper stuff where clients around how are you going to deal with conflict when it arises? Because no one talks about that in a co parenting plan? How are we going to manage that, how we’re going to approach it, what mechanisms or not using the buzzwords, but boundaries need to be in place that we can agree on, for how we approach certain topics and discussions in the future new partners, changing schools with all these different real experiences that are going to come up. And then how that how that how they’re communicating, where they’re communicating, and creating a structure around it. Helping people to normalise this new work in partnership and get through a bit different bit of weirdness than the awkwardness is that are going to be there. So we can get better with those who actually becomes the new normality. And they can create, ultimately, our state people that all is the outcome is in your hands, whether it’s a good or bad experience your children, you only get that feedback from them later on. And sometimes in the moment as well. But it’s about which happens a lot. But it is about how you’re showing up. I was asked yesterday on something about some co parenting tips. And there was a couple of people on this panel, everyone’s giving some really great wider sphere tips. And I said, Okay, let’s look at some real basic little ones everyday lifestyle. Taking eat doing equal drop offs, transitions, try to stay away from negative work. I don’t think that was my handout. For example, it sounds like I’m going on holiday, but my office do equal handovers and transitions. Drop the child off at the other home from a child psychological point of view. They’re being delivered not taken away. So how can you do those types of things? I because I’m not a mediator. I wouldn’t like to comment on how that is different to a mediator? Because I’m not one. So I don’t know. So we can give it more insight to how that differs from a mediator the work that I do.
Sarah Birdsey 38:02
Yeah, I mean, I think your your code of conduct I do is brilliant. I think all parents should have that in place. That level of detail, or not. Working together, it’s like, these are the rules, you know. But yeah, I suppose for a media as well. I mean, I’m not a media. So I can’t sort of come into detail as to how, how that that differs. But, you know, they sort of work and they’re much more independent, I think that you are from it sounds like your role is much more sort of supporting them both through this this process, whereas the media, which I suppose is, is there to try and just help them reach that agreement without necessarily offering advice to either party, you know, just sort of supporting them in in reaching a, you know, a final conclusion. But yeah, I haven’t heard of the Code of Conduct before. So I think
Tom Nash 38:57
this I actually had a couple of work with a couple of years ago, both very creative in their professions. And actually, what we did was took both of their, what they came up with their joint co parenting values and belief system, that they that they combined their two approaches, and they put them into one of those word jumbles, we’ve got the big word with the middle on other words, and then they got it made to a poster and they put it both in their respective kitchens at their own homes to be because they had quite an older children to chew, to hold themselves accountable to their teenage children. So if they weren’t living up to one of those values or beliefs, the kids were allowed to challenge the mother.
Sarah Birdsey 39:34
Yeah, that’s, that’s a great idea.
Tamsin Caine 39:36
I like that. I think that sounds fantastic. I think one of the things that’s interesting about child arrangements, and obviously it’s not an area that I get involved in, but I’ve experienced it both as a child and as it and as parents. Is that you? You sort of assume your children are going to be the age they are now forever, and you make your co parenting plan. On forgetting that those children are going to change, they’re going to grow up, they’re going to have their own minds, they’re going to tell you what they want to do. You know, by a certain point, if they’re very, very tiny, at the beginning, maybe maybe not so much at that stage, but certainly as they get into their teenage years, the whole Well, I’m going to have you 5050 Well, okay. Good luck with that. Because if you try and move a teenager to where they don’t want to be, it’s like, maybe you don’t try that. So I think one of the things that is important is that kind of that it’s not set in stone co parenting plan, that it’s, it’s not rigid, that there is flexibility on on all sides, you know, that, that you remember that these these are human beings, and our job is to, to put them on the right path to being good members of society and decent adults. And actually, they’re not ours as property. And that, that I think, if I think if people keep those sorts of things in mind, then your parents plan, hopefully, well, we’ll, we’ll be reasonably successful. But I do think flexibility is like massively important, but I know it can be difficult if there’s huge conflict between the parents.
Tom Nash 41:24
Yeah. Other thing is, if anyone’s listening to this, obviously, is at the very start of their journey, just think, realistically and practically, outside of this highly emotional moment that you’re in at the moment, if you’re listening to this, it’s really, really early days, that to future voters, and just think about for the moment to go to another COVID thing, and I say it’s time and it’s me purposes, to get co parenting from it. Go forward 1015 20 years, how do you want to co grandparent? How do you want it to be for your adult children, when they have to manage your twos, separations or grandparents for your five year old grandchild? What do you actually want that experience to look like to feel like and all the conversations that other people have to do to still manage your divorce? 25 years down the line?
Tamsin Caine 42:12
Yeah, yeah. And I’m sure there are lots of us with divorced parents who are still managing parents. Yes, certainly. Yeah. Years. Down the line, in my case, and yeah, it’s there are still there are still tricky situations. And, and if you can avoid putting your kids through that, I think that’s a that’s always a good thing. I’m unbelievably we’ve run out of time. Really feel like we could have talked for another hour on this subject. And maybe we should get back together again, at some point in the future and have this conversation for a bit longer. But in the meantime, a massive thank you to Sarah and Tom for being my guest today. As this is the last episode in the series, also a massive thanks to everybody who has been a part of this series because it’s been a real collaboration and I’ve massively appreciated all of my guests in this series. Don’t worry, we will be back with series eight already in the planning and that will soon be starting recording. So thank you for listening and I hope you’ll continue listening to the next series as well.
I hope you enjoyed the episode of the Smart Divorce podcast. If you would like to get in touch please have a look in the show notes for our details or go onto the website www.smartdivorce.co.uk. Also if you are listening on Apple podcasts or on Spotify and you wouldn’t mind leaving us a lovely five star review. That would be fantastic. I know that lots of our listeners are finding this is incredibly helpful in their journey through separation divorce and dissolving a civil partnership. Also, if you would like some further support, we do have Facebook group now. It’s called ‘Separation divorce and dissolution UK.’ Please do go on to Facebook, search up the group and we’d be delighted to have you join us. The one thing I would say is do please answer their membership questions. Okay, have a great day and take care!