If you read nothing else about divorce, we urge you to read our top tips below. Applying our divorce tips will help ensure you get an amicable divorce for you and your family. There are three parts to a divorce if you have children and two if you don't:
1. Your separation or divorce will be slower if you rush your partner
This is the most crucial of all the steps and the most often ignored. At the start of the divorce process you and your partner are likely to be in different emotional places. Our diagram shows the journey people go through when major life change happens. The person who started thinking of divorce first is usually ahead on this path. This means they have had more chance to get used to the idea of separating and have started considering alternatives and solutions.
The person who didn’t make the initial decision to divorce is in a different place. They are still feeling raw emotions like shock, denial and anger. In this state they will find it impossible to make agreements. The more the instigator gets impatient, the more their partner digs their heels in and things grind to a halt.
Your separation will be slower if you rush the other person. If you are in this position don’t apply pressure but either allow time for your partner to catch up. Or if possible look at other options such as professional coaching or counselling support to help with the ‘grieving and moving on’ process.
2. Negotiate from a position of knowledge not emotion
It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to negotiate directly with your partner, going to mediation or preparing for court; you need to understand some basic information on the law. If you both start off understanding this and your expectations are realistic, you will have every chance of negotiating your own settlement without a damaging and expensive legal process. The law doesn’t care who’s in the wrong. What’s important to you, and what’s important to the law are often different things. The law needs to know the ‘facts’ for the marriage breakdown and you will have to document these. However only in very exceptional circumstances does this affect the financial settlements. Examples are one person physically hurting the other or selling assets to avoid their partner getting them.
The legal starting point for dividing assets is 50/50. This is then adjusted by taking into account all of the points below. In most cases neither of you will be able to go on enjoying the same standard of living as you did during the marriage. It’s rare that assets and income stretch that far. This is an important point to get your head round and can often come as a shock. The law will try as far as possible to create a clean break between you and your partner, allowing you to move on independently. A clean-break does not end your responsibilities for your child(ren) however.
The law always seeks to ensure a home can be provided for any children and child maintenance is in place.
For example if one of you has stayed at home to raise children your earning capacity will be reduced.
The law puts both partners having suitable housing as a priority. This may mean an uneven split of assets or more maintenance is paid.
The law considers financial contributions made and time spent looking after the family. Then adjusts settlements to make things fair. Less financial contribution doesn’t always mean less of the asset.
The shorter the marriage the less likely you will share money and property equally. This is especially true of things you brought into the marriage. Welfare of any children still takes priority though.
Pensions become more important the nearer retirement age you are. Age and long-term ill health may affect your earning capacity and housing needs.
3. Create a timeframe with your partner and stick to it
One of the biggest causes of escalating costs in divorce is it taking much longer than expected. If you’ve never divorced before, it’s unlikely you will have much idea of the timetable for a divorce. First of all it’s hard to predict how long it will take to make agreements with your partner.
Our divorce coaches often tell us that the longer a divorce goes on the harder it becomes to reach an agreement. The person who asked for the divorce gets frustrated and angry, their ex is left feeling bullied and confused. It’s really important to try and control these strong emotions as they can very quickly derail an otherwise amicable process.
We’ve designed an outline plan covering the different emotional, practical and legal tasks you need to complete to divorce. You can then add your own personal timeframe to it. A good way to stay in control is to agree timeframes. They help keep the momentum and most of all get things sorted.
4. You need to know what you've got in order to divide it
In order to agree a financial settlement, you will need to list and agree the value of all the items you own. You also need to provide any financial commitments you each have. You can do this yourself or using a tool such as our app as long as you include everything. It’s a good idea to include copies of pay slips and bank statements to make information clear and transparent.
If you or your partner don’t do this voluntarily and can’t agree a split the court will order you to fill in a long and complicated document known as a Form E.
Be aware, the transfer value of your pension can take up to 3 months to arrive. Therefore send off for this information – even if you don’t yet know what you will do with it – as soon as possible.
5. Don't rush off to a solicitor
There are many ways to divorce – and different processes suit different people. But we believe most people can and should do much of their divorce themselves. It is expensive to hire a solicitor, furthermore it creates a dependence that won’t help you in the future. Learn how to communicate with your ex – don’t delegate.
There is a difference between legal information – like this page, and legal advice – information personalised to you. Its more cost effective to seek legal information first (it’s often free) and give yourselves chance to work things out.
The way our legal system works means a solicitor will tell you what’s best for you as an individual and not the family as a whole. Hearing what’s best for ‘you’ can lead to unrealistic expectations and fixed views. When this happens many people find themselves having to start a court process to deliver a decision, but then requires a further legal battle to implement the decision.
6. Divorce is about the future not the past – focus on your future apart
Change the conversation from ‘how do we split our stuff’ to ‘what do we need to do to be happy in future’. Or if you have kids, ‘What we need to do to ensure our kids are happy’, because this can help to focus you on what’s truly important. Don’t spend your time, energy or money arguing over the past.
Our divorce coaches have met enough couples to be certain of one thing – you will never agree. Instead, see sorting out separation as a way to establish what kind of co-parenting relationship you want for the future.
As you sort out your arrangements, start to think of your partner not as your ex, but as your fellow co-parent. Probably this will be the only relationship you have with them and so it’s important to think about how it will work. Parenting and co-parenting are different things and require different skills. There are some brilliant courses around these days that teach co-parenting skills so plan one in and start to be more effective.
When you prepare you feel happier and more confident about the way forward. This knowledge helps you manage fear, uncertainty and emotions. As a result you limit the damage to you, your partner and most importantly, your kids. Finally, it gives you back control at a time when you need it most.
We hope you find these divorce tips useful, for more information please contact us.