Divorce is one of the most stressful experiences we can have in our lives. It has often been equated to grief in terms of the emotional rollercoaster we find ourselves on. It does seem to align with the Kubler Ross grief curve. Our initial and early responses can determine how we move through the divorce process. What follows are my tips for navigating these early stages.
1. Give yourself time
Whether it was your decision, theirs or you jointly feel the relationship has come to an end. There isn’t a race to get everything sorted out. The decisions you make in divorce are life changing and need to be carefully considered before agreeing on them. You may want to gather some information. Our book “Your Divorce Handbook – It’s What You Do Next That Counts” will help you with that. Then take your time to ensure that you are emotionally ready to move forward.
2. Find emotional support first
You will need emotional support. For some, their friends and family can provide this but, for many, they are too closely involved. The clients I have seen come through divorce in the best way mentally have worked with a counsellor, therapist, divorce coach or psychologist. If you can get this support up front, I firmly believe you will be in the best place to make the big decisions.
3. If you have children, keep them front and centre but not in the middle
Considering the children of the marriage when you go through divorce is essential. They are not pawns to be won and lost, nor should they be used to carry messages between the two of you. However, they should be kept in your mind when making decisions during divorce that may affect them. In my experience, children rarely benefit from a protracted court battle, so if there is a way in which you can resolve matters without, it is very much worth considering.
4. Consider the options for divorce that don’t involve court
With the advent of No Fault Divorce, the divorce itself shouldn’t require court proceedings. However, it is the financial settlement that can drive couples into the courtroom. There are two main issues with this; firstly the cost, not only of court itself but the legal representation in terms of lawyers and barristers, and secondly, the emotional cost of court. Divorce is already a hugely stressful time but adding court into the mix can really add to that. There are many ways of resolving your differences without court, whether through one of the various types of mediation, collaborative law or arbitration.
5. It takes two to have an amicable divorce…
You may want to resolve things with your ex in the best way possible. However, they may want their day in court, be keen for the world to know what you’ve done, to let a judge decide how the assets should be split. When faced with this, it is very difficult to resolve your differences amicably. It is possible that given time, and the right advice, they may come around. However, without you both being on the same page, you will struggle to divorce amicably. You can only control your own actions and responses. Amicable divorce is an ideal but sometimes we have to accept it is just not possible.
6. Build a team around you who each advise on their own area of expertise
I have spoken about getting some emotional support as soon as possible. Many of our clients speak to us at an early stage to help them to get their financial information in order, before moving to the next step of either mediation or working with a lawyer (or often both). Many people are concerned about the additional cost of working with a number of professionals. However, working with experts in their field can help to resolve matters more quickly and can avoid costly errors later on. I work with some wonderful family lawyers, but they are not financial experts and cannot provide, for example, pension advice. To the same ends, as a divorce financial planner, I cannot provide legal advice.
It is also important to work with professionals that you like and trust. Their values should align with yours. For example, if you would like to try to achieve an amicable settlement, you would be best looking for a lawyer who aims for this in their work. They are likely to be Resolution members and adhere to their code of practise.
If you feel that you would like Smart Divorce on your team, to help you to gather your financial information together, establish your needs, review settlement offers, advise on an actuarial report or implement an order, please arrange an initial chat using the link https://calendly.com/tamsin-caine/15min.
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://calendly.com/tamsin-caine/15min. 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…