Divorce is never easy, but too often people make the process harder for themselves. I have compiled a list of what you shouldn’t do when getting divorced in the hope that sharing my experience working as a family law Solicitor will help people avoid making mistakes.
These are my ten “Do Nots” of divorce:
- Do not be difficult for the sake of it
It is just as important to compromise matters in divorce proceedings as it is in the course of the marriage. For the divorce to end in a civilised manner, you need to be cooperative with each other to ensure the assets you have are shared between you both rather than the professionals.
- Do not speak badly about your ex
Don’t forget you married the person who you are getting a divorce from. You may be angry, but unkind, harsh words, especially in front of your children do not serve any purpose and hinder resolving matters in a civilised manner.
- Do not treat your solicitor as a counsellor
Solicitors charge an hourly rate. Generally, that costs more than counselling. A solicitor is not a trained counsellor and you are far better to employ a separate counsellor to get you through the pain of the breakup.
- Do not involve your children
Many children blame themselves for the breakup of their parents’ marriage. Their lives are turned upside down when the two people they love most in the world no longer want to be together. Asking them to take your side is the last thing you should do, and you should avoid at all costs being rude about your ex in front of them.
- Do not contest matters simply ‘as a matter of principle’
We often hear the words “it’s a matter of principle” from clients but we always strongly advise against arguing over issues without good reason. This applies to arrangements for children as well as financial matters. Arguing over child arrangements or financial matters as a “matter of principle” can easily lead to increased hostility and make other matters harder to resolve.
- Do not refuse the opportunity to mediate or act collaboratively
There are many ways to resolve matters through mediation and collaborative law. Don’t forget that you had an on-going relationship with your ex, even if you are getting a divorce, you will still be parents if you have children. Trying to agree as much as possible will save costs and mediation can be a cathartic experience.
- Do not make decisions in haste
Make sure you fully understand whatever agreement or compromise is reached with your ex. If you do not understand what your solicitor has told you about a particular process, make sure that you go back and as for more information. Take responsibility for the way in which decisions are made. It is your future and no one else’s.
- Do not rush into a settlement that is not good enough
Whilst you should seek to compromise and reach a settlement with your ex, it is also important that you don’t accept less than you are entitled to in order to avoid the process of negotiating a financial settlement. Some people accept far less than they should. Often this is because they feel guilty or because they are frightened of the process.
- Do not lie
Hiding assets, failing to disclose information about financial information, misleading professionals or the court can have very serious consequences. The Supreme Court has recently decided that any case determined on the basis of non-disclosure can be set aside. This could be very expensive indeed.
- Do not lose control
Always remember that your solicitor is acting for you and must take your instructions. If you do not feel that your solicitor is listening to you are free to instruct another solicitor.
Liz Cowell is a senior family law solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
If you are getting a divorce call Slater and Gordon for a consultation on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online.