5 Tips to Achieve a Good Divorce
Family breakdown can be traumatic and divorce can be a long and difficult process – but conflict is not inevitable. Jane Cowley, our Family Law specialist and Partner here at Geldards, provides her top 5 tips on how to achieve a good divorce.
Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics show an average of one in three marriages end in divorce in England and Wales, with most marriages experiencing their difficulties as they approach their seventh year. Divorce may unfortunately be a fact of life – and while it may not always be easy, there are ways that you can approach it that will help to reduce conflict and make the process as smooth as possible.
So how do you achieve a good divorce? Here are our top tips:
1. Choose your family lawyer carefully
Building a strong relationship with your lawyer will help you immeasurably along your journey. When choosing the lawyer that’s right for you, make sure they speak your language and that there is a genuine and strong rapport. It is essential that you connect with a lawyer who will speak with you at this early stage to understand your concerns, fears and anxieties and talk you through the process. Your lawyer will be working with you during the good times and the bad, so finding a good match will be invaluable to you.
Your lawyer needs to be compassionate and firm. Whilst it’s key that they always listen to you, they also need to be open and honest and tell you what you need to hear. This may not always be the same as what you want to hear, but having this trust and honesty with your lawyer is vital.
2. Try to maintain respectful communication with your ex-partner
Reasons for getting divorce can be varied and complicated and as a result, positive communication between ex-partners can become severed. However, as challenging as it may be, maintaining respectful communication with your ex-partner will help you to reduce conflict and make the process smoother for the both of you.
A common trap many people fall into is oversharing, particularly on social media where things can escalate out of control extremely quickly. Avoid venting your frustrations in this way and consider alternative ways to manage your emotions. This is especially important for parents, as parenting responsibilities will continue post divorce. Children are extremely perceptive and often model their behaviour on the actions of their parents – meaning they will unconsciously pick up behaviours from you. Conflict is a fact of life and can sometimes be a challenge to overcome during a divorce. However, there is no better model for managing conflict than parents who are able to work together in a collaborative manner when dealing with their relationship breakdown.
3. Be open and transparent
Quite often, a relationship breakdown results in a lack of trust – and building this back up can sound like an impossibility. However, in order to resolve issues, there needs to be a shared commitment to rebuild that trust and work together openly during the divorce process – there should be no surprises. For example, financial matters cannot be resolved without an ongoing process of documented full and frank disclosure. Only when there is clarity as to the extent of financial assets and liabilities can any steps be taken to consider settlement proposals.
Being honest and transparent at every stage during your divorce will help you both to navigate the process more smoothly and keep conflict at bay.
4. Be a strong parental unit for your children
The key to achieving a good divorce is ultimately to do your best at retaining civil and transparent communication with your ex-partner. But, whilst you are getting a divorce, it’s important to remember that your roles as parents remain unchanged. Children are resilient, but the divorce of their parents can be a very upsetting time in their lives. The prospect of change can feel extremely daunting and they are often filled with lots of questions and fears of the unknown.
Presenting a united unit for your children will help them to navigate the process with you. It’s likely they may be feeling lost with how to handle how they feel; having you both on the same page and answering their questions in the same positive way will make all the difference in helping your children come to terms with this change in their lives.
5. Consider the ’10 year rule’
The decisions you make during divorce proceedings must meet the test of time. It is always difficult to attempt to future-proof matters – and your lawyers are not clairvoyants. However, it’s important to consider how you envision your life post-divorce. Try to think about where you see yourself and your family in 10 years’ time. What steps can you take now to create a more harmonious future for you and others involved? Consider what important factors you need to take into consideration, such as children and loved ones.
By taking these into account, a good divorce will be one that, in many years’ time, will result in both parties (and their children) looking back and understanding they did the best they could in the circumstances – and that the decisions they made have indeed stood the test of time.
If you’re looking for more information on the divorce process or would like to speak to one of our family lawyers, you can find out more about how we can work with you on our Separation, Divorce, Finances & Children page or you can get in touch with a member of our Family team below.