How to Survive a Divorce

Whether it’s the stress of trying to create the perfect family Christmas or the impetus of a new year, 8 January has become known as Divorce Day as it marks the busiest day in the calendar for lawyers to receive enquires about splitting up for good.

Although there is no magic wand to make the situation easy, Hutchinson Thomas’ Robert Williams has over 30 years’ experience of divorce and is one of the reasons that Hutchinson Thomas was voted the best firm for family law in South and Mid Wales in the Legal 500.

You can find out what Robert’s thoughts are on how to survive a divorce in this article on Wales Online. Or you can get the overview by reading on…

Don’t delay

Once you come to the conclusion that your marriage is over you should move to closure as soon as possible so that you can actually go on with living your life. Bringing things to an end can be painful but it’s rare that people rush into a divorce; when I ask clients when their marriage broke down, they can find a point – often 10 years in the past – when it started.

If there is no contesting, a divorce can take around four and a half months to conclude but if acrimonious, it can take years. And the longer the process takes, the more it will cost; the greater the stress and the further the knock on-effect on any children.

Don’t be afraid of the courts

Mediation – where couples work with an independent person to try to reduce conflict and understand each other’s viewpoints – is very effective in matters around children’s welfare. But when it comes to matters of finance, I’m of the view that mediation delays getting things resolved. There’s little that a mediator can do with two people with entirely different views on financial matters – you are much better off going to the courts for a Financial Dispute Resolution. This may seem daunting but it’s the only way that you’ll get an independent opinion from a judge who is highly experienced on financial matters.

Use a competent and empathetic lawyer

A good lawyer will help you settle things more quickly. They’ll be able to present your case to the courts effectively and they’ll also ensure that you go into the court process with a clear idea of what you’re likely to come out of it with. But you also need a lawyer with emotional intelligence. Empathy is essential – I always work with a client to try and take the heat out of the situation. I might get a text from someone at 10pm at night; they’re upset because their partner has said they’re not going to get a penny. I’ll always respond to the text to reassure them – their partner can’t determine the outcome, it’s not up to them. I’ll then call them as soon as possible the next day.

Reasons for divorce don’t dictate the settlement

It’s rare that the grounds for a breakup will dictate the financial outcome of a divorce. The outcome will be based upon needs – primarily the need of any children. I always give clients this example: say your husband has an affair with the next-door neighbour and you want double the settlement, what happens if you later found out that he had an affair with someone across the road and then later you find out he was seeing someone around the corner? You can’t keep increasing the financial difference in relation to the deed done.

But don’t be afraid to get married!

Married couples go into things wanting to create stability as partners; they look to create assets and wealth for life. This means they tend to have more wealth than unmarried couples. And as the law now stands, the court can provide fairness more easily for married than unmarried couples. However, if a marriage sadly does break down, bury it – treat it like a death and bury it in a timely manner.