On 19th November, Adele released her latest (and much anticipated) album ‘30’, a body of work that – as expected from Adele – has been touching the hearts of people, particularly those that have gone through divorce, the big theme of the album. ‘30’, which has quickly become the fastest selling album of this year in the US and the UK, is described by the singer as a medium to answer big questions about life and explain to her nine-year-old son Angelo, the intricacies of her divorce.
While we know that divorce is becoming a more common occurrence – data from the Office of National Statistics states that estimated divorce rate in the UK is 42%, which means that one in over three marriages are likely to end in divorce – it can still be a difficult, scarring process to endure, for those separating but also for children of divorce.
Below I have listed a few strategies for those in the process of divorcing, or considering it, to help them feel stronger and more confident as they face this daunting experience.
- Choose your lawyer carefully and get legal advice early so that you are clear on your options and understand the best approach. Many people come to see us months or even years before they decide to separate. It helps them to frame the process and the options. On the other side, people who feel their partner may be wanting to exit the relationship should also seek early advice as it helps them to feel prepared for what may be coming. If you understand the process, it becomes less intimidating, and you can enter discussions feeling more confident.
- If you are the person wanting to end the relationship, consider the timing carefully. If possible, plan with your lawyer when you are going to do it; this will help you to prepare for the fall out. For example, do not tell your partner just before a weekend, when they have no time to take advice or seek professional support. Or, when children are coming up to exams and the family is already under pressure.
- Consider who is in your team. Divorce, as Adele testifies to, is a gruelling process. It is emotionally and, in some ways, physically exhausting. It is helpful to think about who can help you through the process. The better supported you are, the easier it will be to make clear sighted decisions. I often encourage clients to obtain therapeutic support, advice from an Independent Financial Advisor and friends and family. I am happy for a friend to accompany clients to my meetings for moral support.
- Give your lawyer a detailed chronology of your relationship. This will help them at the earliest stages to consider how to approach matter and deal with your partner. This includes explaining your partner’s personality and any other considerations. For example, if they have communication issues, it is likely that long letters will be difficult for them to process.
- Think about what really matters to you. Paint a picture of your life post-separation and discuss it with your lawyer. Your lawyer can then help you to negotiate and focus on the issues that are key rather than fighting on all fronts. A good outcome in family law is built on compromise.
- Consider non-court options such as mediation, collaborative law and roundtable meetings. These can all be quicker, less hostile and more cost-effective than court. However, some cases require a third party to make a decision, such as a court or arbitrator. You should not feel like a failure if you need to use these options. The court exists precisely because sometimes we need that neutral decision making. It is better to realise this sooner rather than spend endless time and money trying to resolve it directly.
- Think about who else is affected by your separation, because divorce has a ripple effect. If people around you are unhappy or sad that can create tension between the separating couple. In particular, consider your children’s needs and actively seek support for them. For example, alert the pastoral team at school and consider counselling. Also, keep at a distance the people who chip in with unhelpful advice.
While these are some effective tips to help get through what is undeniably a painful experience, it is key that you focus on the reasons behind the decision and on what really matters. The same way Adele found in her album a way to express her feelings, it is important that you implement coping mechanisms to help you get through divorce. Nonetheless, these tips should narrow the issues between you and your partner, reduce conflict and increase the chances of a negotiated outcome.
Selecting a member of Resolution, the largest organisation for family lawyers committed to a non-adversarial approach is also advised. For more guidance on separation and divorce proceedings, please contact our family law experts on 0808 252 5231 or request a call back.