Considering separation? Read this 7 Step Guide…
When is the right time to file for divorce, and what should you do before you start proceedings? We asked our favourite, friendly family lawyer, Carys Mason, for advice.
January is dubbed Divorce Month by lawyers, who see a huge spike in couples filing to split. It’s the time when people, in unhappy marriages, look to start divorce proceedings, after periods of unavoidable family time.
For the last two years, of course, the period of unavoidable family time wasn’t just one week over the festive period, but several months of lockdown.
The unfortunate phenomenon falls near the beginning of the year, presumably due to the fact so many also see this time as a perfect opportunity to have a new start.
But for many, unless the circumstances require it, the process isn’t as simple as packing a suitcase and walking out on a marriage, particularly where children are involved. So if you want to start the divorce conversation and try to navigate the exit of a relationship then here are family lawyer Carys Mason’s 7 steps towards minimising the pain in the process.
1. LEAN ON FRIENDS
First and foremost, think about, and work on, your support network. Confide in close friends or family as you are going to need them in the rocky times ahead. They may not know that you want their help or what sort of help you need. Tell them. You don’t have to do this alone.
2. FIND PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT
If you are able, find a counsellor and unburden yourself. There may be times when your support network is not around or you feel you have leant on them enough.
3. COMMUNICATE WITH KIDS
Look into, and think carefully about, how to break the news of your separation to your children. Speak to your counsellor if you have one. Children of different ages will absorb information differently and within your family you may need to consider alternative ways to express the same information. If the divorce has a negative impact, it is helpful if you know the signs to look out for. Most children cope just fine but that is generally down to how their parents manage the transition away from one family unit.
4. PRACTICAL NEXT STEPS
Have a look at properties in your area or where you might think about moving to. Get a feel for property prices and the market nearby. But be careful of your search history if you use the family iPad or computer.
5. GET ORGANISED
Use the time to make sure you know the passwords to all of your accounts. But beware, do not indulge in “self-help disclosure” by rummaging around your spouse’s financial papers or online accounts. No, no, no.
6. MONEY MATTERS
Review your finances. If you don’t already have one, consider finding yourself a good financial advisor (IFA). These can be easily found online and will really help you to get your head around your financial position and how much your assets may be worth. Beginning to understand your finances before you think about how you might divide your assets with your spouse is key.
7. FAMILY-FRIENDLY SOLICITOR
And most importantly, take the advice of a specialist family solicitor. They can discuss the whole range of options with you from marriage counselling, mediation, separation and ultimately divorce. A few hours with a solicitor early on, understanding your options, costs, time frames and possible outcomes can relieve significant mental strain. Fear of the unknown comes from a lack of understanding, but with knowledge and support, you can make the right decision for you and your family.
Carys Mason, Senior Associate at Keystone Law