Getting a divorce is a massive undertaking. You have to be able to negotiate with your ex-spouse, plan for a future that feels unknown and ensure you’re looking after your and any children’s health. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most stressful things people undertake in their lives.
That’s why I recommend you find help. There are so many professionals who help divorcing couples navigate the process. They know the procedures and understand the requirements, so it makes sense you find a team of people who can support and advise you.
But, where do you start?
The first step is deciding who you need in your team. Knowing what services are available to you will make the selection process easier.
I mean, you could type into your local Facebook group, ‘Help! I’m getting divorced’, but being specific about your requirements will help people make accurate recommendations.
To save you time, I’ve put together a list of divorce specialists who you can call on to help.
A solicitor is there to give you advice on your rights, responsibilities and entitlements. They will help with filling in divorce forms (the divorce petition is 15 pages) and other paperwork. Solicitors can give independent legal advice if you are negotiating a settlement with your ex but can also be appointed to negotiate on your behalf.
- If your ex-spouse is being obstructive, a solicitor can be more effective at negotiating.
- They can offer advice to help you avoid having to go to court.
- They won’t (or shouldn’t) make mistakes with the paperwork meaning there will be no delays.
- They can be expensive, especially if the divorce becomes complicated. Always look for fixed-fee or capped rates that are more cost-effective.
Mediators don’t take sides. Their role is to help you and your ex-partner reach an agreement about children, finances and marital assets. They don’t give advice and will remain impartial throughout. Mediators aim to help a couple work towards an agreement together.
A mediator works best for couples who trust each other to be honest. If you are struggling to talk to your ex openly, mediation might not be the right course of action.
If you live in England or Wales, you will be asked to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment meeting before applying to court. This session assesses whether mediation will work for you. The aim is to try and keep divorcing couples out of court and make the process amicable.
- It can be quicker and more cost-effective than a solicitor-led divorce.
- Mediation means couples feel more in control of the situation and can take ownership of the agreement.
- It’s a flexible process meaning you can use it for some areas of negotiation, but not others.
- Mediation is confidential. If it isn’t successful and you have to go to court, a solicitor cannot use anything said during a mediation session.
- Mediators cannot give legal advice. You should still see a solicitor before you start mediation so that you understand your rights.
- A solicitor will be needed to create a legal document formalising any agreement made during mediation.
Collaborative Family Lawyer
These are specially trained lawyers who help you and your partner reach an agreement out of court. You both appoint a collaborative family lawyer, and through a series of face-to-face meetings, you work together to resolve any issues you may have. Before the sessions begin, you all sign an agreement that you will not go to court.
- Couples tend to feel happier about the agreement that’s been reached because they are directly involved
- Collaborative Family Lawyers often work with financial planners, divorce coaches or other specialists to help ensure all matters are covered fairly.
- This process may be more expensive than choosing a traditional divorce lawyer.
- If an agreement isn’t reached, you will have to go to court, and a new solicitor will have to be appointed. This means you are going to incur extra costs.
If an agreement cannot be reached, arbitration is an option rather than going to court. You can choose an arbitrator and select times and dates for hearings. Plus, arbitration is a confidential process, so it may be a suitable alternative if you don’t want your financial assets in the public domain.
An arbitrator listens to both parties and then makes a decision that will be final and binding. They can make decisions about finances, assets and children.
- It’s quicker and cheaper than going to court.
- It’s confidential.
- Arbitration is less formal, so you may feel more comfortable talking to an arbitrator rather than a judge.
- One party may feel dissatisfied with the final decision.
- If trust isn’t there, one party may feel like the process has been biased.
You may need an accountant to help value assets. Some accountants (called forensic accountants) can help assess if a partner is hiding assets or not declaring truthfully. Remember, a solicitor cannot value assets, so you may need both a solicitor and an accountant.
- It makes things fair. You know precisely what you are entitled to.
- If you use an accountant before starting the divorce process, you can see if your partner has been hiding things from you. This may help you make a decision about beginning divorce proceedings.
- Using a forensic accountant can cause animosity, meaning the divorce may not be amicable.
- It may delay divorce proceedings as an accountant will need time to review all assets thoroughly.
- Financial planners can see the bigger picture. They can help you work out how to divide assets in the most appropriate way. They also help you to plan for a new future with one income. They can give advice on investing but also help you understand how to budget and plan. This is especially important if you haven’t been in charge of the finances during your marriage.
- Using a financial planner can speed up the divorce proceedings to help you navigate any financial decisions needed to be made.
- They work with you during and after the divorce so you can feel financially secure about the future.
- They can attend mediation and help with the negotiations.
- They can ensure their clients achieve the best financial outcomes by assessing the financial affairs of both parties.
- They help you become knowledgeable about money and therefore you’ll feel more in control.
- It is an extra cost.
If you own a house with your ex-spouse, you will probably need to speak to a mortgage advisor. They will help you to understand if you can transfer deeds from two names down to one. They can also help you decide what to do if you have to sell the family home and purchase new houses.
- You’ll get expert specialist advice about dividing your largest marital asset.
- They’ll help you prepare financially for a new home.
- They can find the best mortgage deals for you.
- It may be an additional cost.
- You may still need to talk to a financial planner to understand what you can afford.
Divorce coaches are ideal people to support you through the rollercoaster of emotions you will experience throughout the divorce process. They will help guide you through the process and help you think more clearly. You don’t want to be making any rash decisions.
- They could stop the need for a solicitor or mediator, saving you money.
- They can help you move on after the divorce.
- They can help you communicate with your ex making the divorce process smoother.
- You need to find the right coach. It’s an unregulated sector, so do your research.
- You need to feel willing to invest in yourself, which may be tricky to do.
I always recommend some sort of counselling or therapy to my clients. Your emotional well-being is just as important as your financial well-being. Counselling helps you understand how your situation and provides you with a safe space to manage the upheaval.
- It can minimise the impact of divorce on children or other family members.
- It can bring you closure and acceptance.
- It may help establish a new relationship with your ex-partner, especially if you are co-parenting.
- You may feel uncomfortable during the first few sessions.
- It’s an added cost that isn’t a required part of the divorce process.
There is so much help out there for couples divorcing. Having that support and expertise makes the process a little less stressful. I hope this list clearly outlines what is available to you.
I’m Tamsin, and I’m a financial advisor and can help guide you with your finances. I also work with a team of divorce specialists who will work with you to ensure your divorce goes smoothly. Getting your finances sorted before you begin divorce proceedings is vital. Many clients come to me worried that they can’t afford to get divorced, and together we can work out a plan that suits you and your family.
If you think you need financial advice, book in for a free 15 minute chat here, and I’ll see if I can help.