PREPARING FOR SEPARATION AND DIVORCE

Often clients come to see me for a consultation prior to making the final decision to separate and divorce. Usually, they ask me whether there is anything they need to do in preparation for the journey ahead. What is appropriate will differ from family to family. There may be things you would like to do that are just not possible due to the level of hostility between you. Of course things are very different for the person who has decided to end the relationship and may have spent months thinking about their decision and planning the way forward, compared to the person who may have only just been informed of the decision and may be in total shock and disbelief. Here are some of my recommendations.

Talk to each other

The more communication there is between you, the less likely it is that you will end up in a bitter court battle. Communication is not a one way street, it also involves truly listening to the other person. Talking face to face means that there is less opportunity for a misunderstanding to arise than if you communicate by text or email. To put it bluntly, the more you manage to agree between yourselves, the less money you will spend on lawyers.

Plan how to tell the children

The better prepared you are, the more supported the children will feel. If you can, tell the children together. Prepare what you are going to say and present a united front. Do not give mixed messages and do not denigrate each other to the children. Don’t blurt it out – arrange a suitable time and place to tell them.

You may choose to complete a Parenting Plan together which sets out what you have agreed about the arrangements for the children. Many specimen Parenting Plans are available online.

Get your documents in order

Whichever way you decide to sort out the property and financial issues, you will both need to have a good understanding of what there is first. Indeed, if you decide to go to mediation or to negotiate via solicitors, you will be encouraged to go through the “disclosure” process as a first step. It may be that you will not have all of the required information and documents to hand. For example, it is unlikely that you will have a document confirming the cash equivalent transfer value of your pension, available. These things can take some time to come through so apply for them at an early stage. If you are able to present your solicitor/mediator with a full set of documents at the outset, this will also save you money as the solicitor will not have to keep reviewing the documents and chasing you for missing items.

Get a good solicitor on board

Family lawyers are happy to see clients for a preliminary consultation so that you can find out where you stand. Good quality, comprehensive advice will help you to make your decision with clarity and confidence. A good solicitor will not pressure you into making a decision before you are ready to do so.

Check out the Resolution website

Resolution is the largest organisation of family law solicitors in England and Wales. Members of Resolution are committed to a constructive and non-confrontational approach to family law cases, which puts the interests of the children at the heart of all decisions and aims to maintain the dignity of the parties. You can use the website to search for a solicitor or mediator close to where you live. Parts of the website are open to members of the public and contain a lot of invaluable information about all aspects of family law.

For all family law enquiries please contact our Head of Family Law, Joanna Toloczko on 020 3861 5155 or at jtoloczko@meaby.co.uk.