For some couples, Christmas is a last test of their relationship before making the final decision to separate. Others, who made that decision earlier in the year, stay together for one last Christmas – usually when children are involved. The goodwill does not have to end there. Preparation and calm can help you to reduce the strain and cost of separation on a 12-step journey.
On the first day: Speak to your spouse about how you see your future, and listen as they explain how they see theirs.
It can be helpful to arrange a time without distractions to explain how you are feeling about the marriage and how you see your futures. If you understand each other’s perspectives and can work together constructively, it will be easier to reach a fair outcome for both of you. This is likely to result in your divorce process running more smoothly and minimise your legal fees.
On the second day: Agree a ‘grounds for divorce’ to initiate proceedings.
The most common reasons are ‘unreasonable behaviour’ and ‘adultery’, which can signal confrontation, but this does not mean the process itself has to be confrontational. You can discuss the grounds with your spouse and agree what you will include (or exclude) for the record.
On the third day: Talk about future living, financial, child (and pet) care arrangements.
The most effective arrangements involve compromise on both sides. With this in mind, many separating couples find it easier to have conversations about interim arrangements with a counsellor or mediator.
On the fourth day: Tell your family and children.
If you have children, they may benefit from extra support. All children react to their parents’ separation differently. If your children are still in education, we recommend that you inform their school or nursery and consider independent counselling to help them adjust to their new life.
On the fifth day: Tell friends and work colleagues.
Even the most amicable divorce can be stressful so it will help you to have support from friends and colleagues.
Whatever your situation, you are not alone. There are support networks such as Gingerbread, @onlymums and @onlydads which provide forums, information and advice for parents who are separating (or already separated).
On the sixth day: Pull together financial information.
As part of the divorce process you will need to exchange information about assets, liabilities, income streams and pensions so that everyone is clear what is in the family pot to be divided.
On the seventh day: Decide on solicitors or mediators to represent your interests.
A conversation with a law firm will help you decide whether to have representation, and from whom. You can contact Resolution to find a solicitor who advocates non-confrontational divorce.
On the eighth day: Issue the divorce petition.
Your divorce does not officially start until the divorce petition is issued. Although the law requires that the divorce petition is prepared by one spouse and served on the other, you can discuss and agree who will initiate the process and when.
On the ninth day: Agree your financial and any care arrangements.
You will need to make more permanent arrangements regarding children. These can be agreed between you, with the help of a mediator, collaboratively with solicitors, or with the help of the court via a Child Arrangement Order.
Separate arrangements will need to be agreed regarding the division of the family pot and any ongoing spousal support. The objective will be for the assets to be divided fairly between you and for each spouse to become independent after a period-of-time.
On the tenth day: Get a Decree Nisi.
A Decree Nisi is a document stating that the court does not see any reason why you cannot get divorced and establishing the day the marriage will end.
On the eleventh day: Get a Decree Absolute.
It is over. The Decree Absolute is a final order that officially brings a marriage to an end in England and Wales.
On the twelfth day: Move forward and make new traditions.
Remember to update your status by informing insurance companies, schools, employers and your GP. If you have one, you should also consider updating your Will.
All of the solicitors at Allard Bailey Family Law are committed to a non-confrontational and constructive approach to family law. If you would like to discuss your divorce, separation or child arrangements, please contact Louise Allard or Sabrina Bailey.