Publish date

6 January 2022

What to consider when you want a divorce

You may have been unhappy for months, but not known what to do and then after much thought decided to tell your spouse that the marriage is at an end. They may have expected the conversation but equally they may be totally shocked and hurt by your decision.

It is likely that if you have been thinking about the decision for some time, you are in a very different place and keen to move forward with practical steps. Whilst it is tempting to go forward at speed, it can cause the process to actually be more drawn out, slower and more expensive as a result. Whilst you can get a divorce underway, resolving the finances can be much slower and is likely to be even more so if the other spouse is still coming to terms with the decision to end the marriage.

It is sensible to seek legal advice and preferably from a family lawyer who is a member of Resolution at an early stage. You can then make decisions about the practical steps being mindful of the emotional impact on the other party.

Although it is unlikely that your spouse will want to talk initially, going forward the process will be more straightforward and probably less costly if you can keep communication open. It may be necessary to attend therapy, not to try and reconcile but so that the shock of the decision can be discussed and emotional matters resolved as much as they can be. Whilst difficult it is much more likely that the divorce, arrangements for the children and the finances can then be discussed in a more constructive and productive way.

However keen you are to get things underway, it is sensible to try and be mindful of the other party coming to terms with a decision that they may not have seen coming. Whilst you will not want to wait indefinitely, it is unlikely to help to immediately put pressure on the other party.

The key is to get advice early on, and to consider how to mitigate the emotional upset. It will help in the long run to be less impatient, as it is more likely to incur greater legal fees and make direct communication going forward far more problematic. Speak to a lawyer who is a member of Resolution and make a plan of the practical steps. Discuss whether a divorce or separation is the better option. If you decide a divorce is the better option to finalise financial matters, discuss the best way to start those proceedings. Consider with your lawyer, how you can provide financial information and the best approach to resolving matters. If mediation is your preferred option, ask for details of mediators in the area. Ask about the collaborative process, if you think this might suit your family, you can obtain names of other collaborative lawyers who could act for your spouse.

If you anticipate that yours is a case that will be difficult to resolve by agreement, ask for information about the court process. How does it work, what are the likely timescales? In considering all options it is sensible to ask about costs early on. This will be a big consideration and is information that you can give to your spouse when you have the initial discussions about how best to resolve matters.

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