Whether January is a time for small changes or more significant life decisions, it’s an opportunity to shape the year ahead. And for many people, the months that follow are the start of a new chapter in their family life as they begin to move on from relationships that aren’t working.
Separation, divorce, dissolution. These aren’t easy; they bring a range of challenges for the two people at the centre of them, as well as for their children and wider family. But, as family law specialists who help clients untie their relationships, we’re keen to shake off one common misconception: that the legal process has to be a hostile, negative experience.
Take divorce. It’s commonly portrayed as pitting two people against one other, fuelling further conflict and unhappiness. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
So, how can you make yours a ‘better’ divorce?
Get the measure of your relationship
Blame-throwing and bad feeling (and in the most serious cases, domestic abuse) can write off any possibility of two people coming together to talk through the practical arrangements. But where there’s still a degree of positive communication, harness that for good. It could set you off on a path that avoids a court battle, and that’s an opportunity worth grasping.
Set common objectives
This isn’t about: “I want the house” or “We’ll split your pension” (those things come later). Setting common objectives means agreeing how you’d like the divorce to run its course. For example, it can be helpful to reassure your partner that you want the divorce settlement to be fair to you both. You could tell them that you don’t plan on holding things up, or avoiding difficult conversations. And, most important of all, you should agree that, whatever your differences, your children’s best interest will come first.
Some couples finalise the terms of their divorce between themselves, with the help of their family law solicitors. However, sticking points or problems in communicating can hinder this. That’s where a mediator can help. They’re an independent third party who will work with both people to help them reach an agreement. Mediators are often family lawyers, so they understand the context. We’re proud to have an accredited mediator in our family law team.
Be ready for court
Sometimes court is the only way to resolve issues, and it shouldn’t be feared. We work closely with clients in the lead-up to make sure not only that their case is fully prepared, but to help them understand exactly what happens at court and what they should expect. Being ready is more than half the battle. And while we’re skilled at negotiation and alternative dispute resolution (often helping clients avoid court), we’re always primed to use our litigation expertise – and to fight hard – if that’s the right route for you.
Have the best people around you
Friends and family are a vital support network during divorce. Beyond that circle, choose lawyers you feel comfortable with, who share your commitment to getting the right outcome, and who are trusted experts in family law. Our team – one of the largest in the region – is ranked in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, the UK’s leading independent legal directories. With years of specialist experience, outstanding client feedback, and a strong track record in getting the best results for our clients, we’re a great team to have on your side.