Remember that aeroplane safety advice that you always do your best to ignore just before take-off? Perhaps not then! You might just recall though, that in the event of an emergency, anyone with a child is advised to put their own oxygen mask on first and to then help their children.
According to specialist family solicitor Nicola Poole of Hedges Law, this advice is crucial.
Most couples separating think that there are two sides to a divorce: his and hers. In reality however there can be three sides: his, her's and the children's.
"The number one objective for my divorcing client is almost always to cause as little damage and pain to their children as possible. And what I say to them is that in order to look after their children during this traumatic time, they firstly need to look after themselves."
Nicola, who is head of a specialist family law team at Hedges, comprised of four family solicitors, suggests the following tips for surviving your divorce:
- Consider taking legal advice at an early stage. At least having some basic information about your rights and the issues to be considered, will empower you a lot and help to make the future less frightening.
- Choose a Solicitor who belongs to Resolution, the national association of family lawyers committed to resolving family and matrimonial difficulties in a constructive way. A list of Solicitors in your area can be found on http://www.resolution.org.uk/.
- Consider alternatives to the traditional litigation-style process. Mediation and collaborative law are becoming increasingly popular alternatives, and may well assist you and your Ex to reach agreement without the use of the courts and maintain a civilised relationship in the future. That might be extremely important if you have children and will need to communicate for some years to come.
- Understand that the separation and divorce may be quite a lengthy process. If you think about the amount of planning and time that went into arranging your wedding, you are going to need at least that to plan your futures apart.
- If you do have children together, try to understand that it will be impossible to truly walk away from your relationship. Parents evenings, school concerts, graduations and weddings mean that couples may well continue to meet as parents. Think about the possibility of making those occasions enjoyable for your children, rather than a source of dread. Mediation and collaborative processes assist in creating an environment in which it is possible to continue those activities with a spirit of respect and courtesy…something that can often be lost if there is a long, bitter legal battle in the courts.
- Consider counselling. This can help you clarify the emotional issues and separate them from the legal ones. Relationship guidance counsellors can help you cope with the practicalities of separation and provide ongoing support for you in the breaking-up.
- Do try to get up to speed with your finances. Although they are likely to be hugely stressful to talk about, or even think about, when you first separate the division of Property and money are going to need to be sorted out. Getting a clearer understanding of how much money there is in terms of capital, and what money there is coming in and out, is a good place to start. You will be amazed at how empowered you feel by having the financial information at your fingertips, and that will also help the future seem less frightening.
- Be realistic. Don't expect everything to feel wonderful again very soon, even when your divorce is finally settled. For many people, the formal end of the marriage can be the start of a period of mourning. They can be so busy sorting out the practicalities of sorting out what is going to happen, that they don't give themselves a chance to breathe. Letting go of a huge part of your life and having to start anew can seem a somewhat overwhelming task. Some people say that "recovery" is least a month for every year that you are married. You will be able to establish a new life, but you have to be realistic about how quickly that will happen. One thing you can do is to make tiny changes in your life on a daily basis.
"Surviving your divorce is completely possible" says Nicola Poole. "With a willingness to move on, a realistic sense of where you stand and a good support system, you will be able to make it through the difficult times in your divorce. As time passes, old wounds will heal, and you will begin your life with a new slate, even if it not necessarily a completely clean one".
For a consultation with Nicola Poole or any one of the specialist family solicitors at Hedges (offices in Oxford and Wallingford) telephone 01865 594265 or 01491 839839 or email email@example.com.