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10 top tips on getting divorced amicably

View profile for Melanie Loxley
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Getting divorced is rarely seen to be a positive thing. Ending a relationship is an extremely stressful life event. As a family law solicitor for the past 18 years, I have advised many people going through a relationship breakdown. Here are 10 top tips on how to make sure divorce proceedings are as pain-free as possible. Find out more about divorce or ending a relationship here.

Make sure you are prepared before you enter into a separation agreement or apply for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership:

  1. Try relationship counselling
    See if there is anything you can do to make the relationship work. You have nothing to lose and even if the marriage has irretrievably broken, you can at least separate knowing you did everything you could to save the marriage. It can also help your husband or wife accept the relationship is over, if you are the one who instigates the separation
  2. Communicate
    Make an effort to talk everything through – feelings, concerns, aspirations. If you can talk and really listen to each other, you can try and maintain a positive relationship even if you don’t remain in a romantic relationship with one another.
  3. Shield your children
    If you have children, then make sure they never see, hear or overhear you arguing or bad-mouthing one another. It is for you both, as their parents, to make sure that they know that their relationship with both of you will be preserved and protected, notwithstanding your marriage ending.
  4. Take early legal advice
    Make sure that you understand what claims you and your partner have against one another on divorce. That way you can ensure that what you are agreeing to, and/or discussing with your partner, covers all of the issues that it should and that you are not agreeing to something that is not in your best interests that you might regret later on.
  5. Discuss the divorce
    Talk about who will start the divorce process, what fact you will rely on and what will be mentioned in the divorce papers. It is also a good idea to agree on how the legal costs of the divorce will be met. You may have seen in the press that there is a drive to implement no fault divorce, but this is some time off. There are currently 3 grounds for divorce to choose from: 
    • adultery;
    • unreasonable behaviour; or,
    • separation for 2 years, depending upon whether your partner consents to the divorce.
  6. Mediate
    If communication between you is difficult, get help from someone outside of the relationship. Trained mediators can help you both understand one another’s positions and guide the negotiations that need to take place, whilst still keeping you at the centre of the process.
  7. Consider all the alternatives
    If mediation is not for you, why not see if you can have a round table meeting with your partner and both of your solicitors present. This will help to keep you firmly involved in the process, but at the same time ensure that you are supported and advised throughout the negotiations. This approach can be taken by lawyers trained in the collaborative law process and non-collaboratively trained family lawyers. 
  8. Get support
    Separating from a partner is difficult and is often likened to a bereavement. Don’t deal with it alone – talk to friends and family (although not your children) who can help you process your emotions and who can help calm you down if you are feeling anxious or upset. Consider counselling if you don’t feel able to talk to those close to you about such personal issues or if you need more help than you are getting.
  9. Exchange financial disclosure
    Make sure you completely understand the finances of yourself and your partner, including:
    • what assets you both have
    • what debts there are
    • what your incomes are
    • what benefits you each will be entitled to when you separate
    • what your likely outgoings will be once you no longer live together in the family home
    • what appropriate housing will cost you
    • what you can borrow in your own right by way of mortgage
  10. Document your agreement
    ​Once you have reached an agreement and have taken advice upon it, make sure it is then properly recorded by a divorce law specialist so that you are both legally bound by it and there are no unexpected problems or surprises in the future.

I am a divorce and separation solicitor based in our Colchester office. I have been practising family law since 2001, am a member of Resolution and an accredited member of the Law Society Family Panel. If you would like to speak to me about your situation for a free 15 minute consultation, contact me on 01206 217384 or on mel.loxley@birkettlong.co.uk

Birkett Long’s Divorce and Separation team is regularly ranked in the top tier of the Legal 500, an impartial directory of legal services. Find out more about divorce or ending a relationship.

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