New Year New You: How to approach ‘Divorce Day’
It is well known that many family lawyers experience a large volume of enquiries from separating couples early in the New Year when they have been forced to spend time together and realise that the relationship is over. Indeed it is said that the first working Monday after the Christmas break is commonly known as ‘Divorce Day’, when people full of good intentions for the New Year decide to end a failing relationship and seek divorce advice. But does the anger, resentment or disappointment that led them to that point have to continue throughout the divorce process?
It is sometimes reported in the media that a celebrity “had their marriage dissolved by a High Court Judge in a matter of seconds”. It leads people to believe that the only option for ending a marriage is through court. Whilst it is a court that has the power to dissolve a marriage and grant a decree of divorce, the process does not need to be contentious or require attendance at court. No one should feel that a contentious ending to marriage is the only option. A number of specialist family lawyers offer options to reduce the upset that the ending of a relationship can cause.
Two of the main alternative dispute resolution processes that we advise clients to consider are mediation and collaborative law.
Mediation helps couples work through their problems together and reach a solution that both parties can live with. It is not a form of counselling. It involves a third party being present to facilitate the difficult conversations that you may need to have. The focus is on moving forwards in a positive way which may help you to maintain an amicable relationship or be able to co-parent your children effectively in the future.
Collaborative law is a similar process but you and your partner will each have your own lawyer present to offer legal advice, moral support and help with any difficult aspects. Collectively, the couple decide with the lawyers the issues to be discussed. Sometimes decisions need to be taken to bring in third parties such as a pension expert or a therapist to help with issues relating to the children. The couple decide when they are able to achieve an agreement on the terms for the divorce and how to divide financial assets.
The court’s involvement to record the agreed terms should be minimal so as to ensure the feelings from “divorce day” do not resurface. If you have come to the conclusion that your marriage has broken down but you want to end the relationship in a more amicable way, come and see one of our family law solicitors at Whitehead Monckton who can help you work out the right process for you.
Written by Lucy Nevard