For many people this comes completely out of the blue and the news that their marriage is at an end is absolutely devastating. They haven’t a clue what to do next and the thought of separating from their spouse is terrifying. They have often also heard horror stories about how expensive and acrimonious a divorce can be and are completely overwhelmed about what it might cost.
The first step is to stop and to take some time to come to terms with the prospect of separation. Many benefit from counselling or from seeing a divorce coach at this stage to help them through what is often a very difficult time.
When the dust has settled people start to think about the practicalities of their separation: where are they going to live?; how are they going to divide the family finances?; what are the arrangements for the children going to be? These are all important factors that need to be considered along with many more questions that have to be answered before a couple can go their separate ways.
It is always beneficial for a separating couple to seek independent legal advice from an experienced family law specialist about issues such as finances, divorce and the children around this time. Although couples are often nervous about what it’s going to cost, taking legal advice sooner rather than later can often save them money in the long run.
What people often don’t realise is that a divorce or separation doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be acrimonious. There are different options available to separating couples, regardless of whether they are married or unmarried. One option is to resolve any issues through family mediation. This is where the couple attend a number of meetings with a family mediator. The mediator is impartial and their role is to help the couple to reach an agreement about any issues arising from their separation without the need for court proceedings. The main benefits of family mediation are that it is cheaper, quicker and it is about finding a solution that is okay for everyone, in particular any children involved.
Another option is collaborative law. This is where the couple each instruct a collaboratively trained lawyer and any issues are resolved by the couple and their lawyers attending meetings. This is again often cheaper and quicker than the court process and there is a better chance that the couple will be able to have a civil relationship afterwards if they are able to reach an agreement, rather than having a decision forced upon them by the court.
A further option is good old fashioned solicitor led negotiation. This is where negotiations take place between solicitors. This needn’t be aggressive, providing everyone is prepared to work together constructively to achieve a swift and cost effective outcome. People often think that by instructing a solicitor that the situation will become more heated. An experienced family solicitor should explore all of the options and consider ways that agreements can be reached rather than making matters worse. Instructing a solicitor may seem like a big step but it is better to clarify your options at the outset so that appropriate decisions can be made going forward.
If you need advice about divorce, separation or any other family law matter please contact Shaun Hulme at our Head office on 0113 284 5117