Top tips for surviving divorce / dissolution
January is often the busiest month for online divorce related search enquires. This trend may be due to strained couples choosing to say together over the Christmas period to try and provide the children with a normal and happy festive time or strained couples being motivated to try and make their relationship work around Christmas but come January reality sets in once again. Whatever the reason, nobody wants to get divorced and the impact it has can last for years. However, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and which in turn should help you move on quicker so you can get on with enjoying the rest of your life.
1) Prepare with a prenuptial agreement
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself starts before the wedding day itself – enter a pre-nuptial agreement. Pre-nups are contracts made between a couple before they marry / enter a civil partnership which are intended to set out the financial consequences in the event of a divorce. They are not legally binding but as long as the agreement is fair, you both understood the implications and it is freely entered into, the courts will take it into consideration.
It can be incredibly difficult raising this with matter your partner but the best time to have this difficult conversation is before marriage / civil partnership. Pre-nups can help provide transparency and avoid the uncertainty, acrimony and costs that can arise during divorce / dissolution.
2) Take early advice
That is not to say you must immediately instruct a solicitor to start court proceedings, simply that it is sensible to take some early advice so that you are informed as to how the family court is likely to deal with the matter. This can help alleviate worries and concerns about the unknown and help you start planning what your future might look like.
Similarly, you may need to take advice from other professionals such as an accountant or family therapist. Your solicitor can help signpost you so that you get the right assistance.
3) Think carefully about how you wish to resolve matters
There are so many options nowadays about how you might wish to reach a financial settlement or agree arrangements for the children. These range from sitting around the kitchen table agreeing a settlement directly with your former partner, to mediation, collaborative law, through to court proceedings. There is no one solution that fits all and your solicitor can help guide you as to what method is likely to be best for you and your family.
If you choose an option such as trying to resolve matters directly with your former partner or mediation it is sensible to have regular ‘safety check’ meetings with your solicitor to ensure that what is being discussed is fair and can be implemented. Whichever method you adopt you must ensure any financial settlement is drawn up into a consent order and this needs to be approved by the court for it to be binding and enforceable.
4) Try to approach matters dispassionately
This is easier said than done, as of course, divorce / dissolution is an upsetting, sensitive and personal matter. It is also not to say approach it with the same detachment you would for a business transaction. Do try though to approach matters with a cost v benefit analysis.
- Is this issue something worth incurring legal fees on?
- Will this course of action help me secure a better financial settlement for my family?
- Is this something my solicitor can help with?
There are also other ways you can help keep control of what you spend in legal fees such as providing your solicitor with the information they require in a timely fashion. Usually it is also more cost effective if you collate the relevant financial information and send it to your solicitor in one go as opposed to sending it in piecemeal fashion as you receive or find it.
5) Rebuild stronger for the future
The reality is that the assets and income that used to fund one household will now have to fund two so you are unlikely to have the financial resources you had when married. Now is a good time to prioritise your spending, make plans for what you will do in retirement etc. Do not overlook the value of a pension fund, or other pragmatic matters such as making a will so that those you would like to benefit when you die are provided for . Likewise, consider whether you wish to change any nominations in respect of your pensions and life insurance.