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3rd January, 2019 by Justine Flack
January is often considered the divorce month for matrimonial solicitors where the number of new enquiries increase. If you are facing divorce or separation, what issues should you consider first and foremost? Family law specialist, Justine Flack offers some guidance.
January can be a bleak month; Christmas is over, the hours of daylight are few and the weather is often cold and miserable. It can however be a time for fresh starts and making changes which for some applies to their personal relationships. Rarely have relationships suddenly gone wrong but the Christmas period may have added to tensions that were already there. The New Year can be a time for reflection and honesty about what is no longer working.
In January there are 40,500 online searches with the term ‘divorce’. The first working Monday in the month is known as Divorce Day. So if you find yourself searching online in early January, what are the things that you should bear in mind moving forwards? My top tips are as follows –
Be certain that the relationship really is at an end. Consider whether counselling might assist you, either as a couple or on your own. Talking things through often helps clarify your thoughts and trusted family and friends can be helpful too where they are good listeners and discreet. Be certain before saying or doing anything, particularly where it is going to be a shock to the other person.
If the relationship is going to end, have a plan for your children in terms of the time they will spend with each of you, where you will be living and how you will tell them the news and future appropriate information. Children are resilient and usually do better with two separated but happy parents. However, they need certainty, consistency and not to find themselves in the middle of disputes.
This is important in the short term. Can you afford for one of you to move out at this point? Remember, you will suddenly be trying to support two households from the same income that managed one. Sometimes it’s just not feasible or sensible because creating additional financial pressures at this point is likely to add to tensions. Whether you physically separate or not, try and agree who will be responsible for paying for what and make sure both of you can manage financially in the short term.
It can be tempting to try and save money (particularly in January) by doing it yourself via the plethora of advice available online. However, getting it wrong may add to your stress and cost more in the long run. At least get some initial advice upon where you stand legally on the various issues. Instructing a specialist solicitor often saves worry and money. Choose wisely, try and find someone known to resolve issues rather than litigate. Think about collaborative law or mediation as alternative ways of resolving matters. If early issues arise such as you don’t have enough money to live on or you are being prevented from seeing your children, speak to someone as soon as you can.
The divorce process can take time but this is not necessarily a bad thing as it allows you to adjust to change. You will need to gather a lot of financial information to disclose, so begin by doing this. Think about what you want for the future, how that can realistically be achieved with the resources available and decide what matters to you. Accommodation and day to day living is more important than who will keep the vase Aunt Flo gave you as a wedding present!
This can be difficult, particularly when you are hurting. However, talking issues through directly often saves solicitor’s fees and your children will thank you for it in the long term if they have parents who maintain a civilised relationship. Stop and think about how you will remember this time when you look back in 5 years – will you be proud of what you said and did? Resist posting on social media too, that type of communication is rarely helpful.
This is a tough time whether it is your decision to end the relationship or not. Accept help from family and friends and take time to heal. You won’t always feel this way.
If you are considering divorce or separation, please get in touch or click here to find out more about our Family services.