Divorce is a painful process – everybody knows it, and there’s no point pretending you’re going to go through separating from your childhood sweetheart or the parent of your children without experiencing a few emotional obstacles along the way.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are our top five tips to go through a divorce relatively unscathed, not just for your own sake, but for the good of your ex-spouse and any other relatives and children too.
1. Keep emotions out of it
There are times when emotions are a useful part of the divorce process – if you are staying close friends, for example, or if your love for your children makes an amicable agreement a necessity.
But sometimes emotions can flare up, and divorce can turn bitter. If you can avoid this, do so, as it rarely leads to any one party being happier in the end, and it usually drives up the legal costs.
2. Be honest
Whatever lies and deceit may have led to the divorce, put them behind you and engage in the process with openness and honesty.
You don’t want to get found out trying to hide any past indiscretions, sources of income or secret savings, so make sure you declare everything, at least to your own solicitor who can advise on whether or not it’s classed as ‘fair game’ in the division of assets.
3. Put the children first
It’s worth mentioning it again: when there are children involved, especially young children, they should be your priority.
Make sure maintenance agreements will give the child a good quality of life, and don’t get petty over visitation rights either; ultimately it’s better for everyone if both parents continue to share responsibility, unless for example the divorce is due to substance addiction or domestic abuse.
4. Keep it quick
Even amicable divorces can start to drag on when you get into the minutiae of who gets what, and the faster you can get through everything, the less you’ll both have to pay in legal fees.
Remember too that divorce isn’t free – one or both of you will have to pay for the process, including any court and solicitors fees, so don’t be shocked when the bill comes through.
Finally, get a solicitor you trust. The problem here arises if you have a family solicitor already, because it might be a conflict of interest for the same firm to represent both parties.
In many cases the first major disagreement in divorce comes over who gets to use the solicitor you know and trust, and who has to find a new one of their own – if it saves time and trouble, take the moral high ground and agree to find new representation, even if you only do so as a gesture of good faith early in the process.