Divorce isn’t easy for anyone involved. The husband and wife, kids, grandparents, friends. Everyone will be affected in different ways. The key thing is to navigate the process and negotiations in as calm a sea as possible. In my experience, dads can often feel like they get the rawest deal when it comes to divorce or separation.
Men and women do deal with things in different ways and have different priorities or considerations. For both though, there are things they can do to help them through the dark times to come out the other side.
For men there are some specific divorce tactics which can help move things on, manage stress and make for a more amicable process. This blog pulls together some of our top divorce tips for men, drawing from years of collective experience at Woolley & Co.
What should a man do when his wife wants a divorce?
Think carefully first. I know it sounds like common sense, but this is one of the best pieces of divorce advice for men. A lot of people don’t really think through the consequences of their actions before carrying them out. For example, the angry father who issues an ultimatum to his wife so that she can see that he will not be “putting up with any nonsense” from the start.
This is not a helpful way to begin matters. This will instantly put the wife on the defensive and potentially strengthen her resolve to make him suffer. Once this happens you can quickly get into a situation where correspondence is flying back and forth with allegations and counter allegations.
If no negotiations are attempted to try to resolve the situation, then before you know it court proceedings are issued and a judge is being asked to determine what is best for the children or how the assets should be divided.
So, basically, our best divorce tips for men are: STOP, THINK and perhaps most importantly, LISTEN.
Stop before you take any rash actions or say things you might regret. Sometimes this might mean biting your tongue, but it will be worth it in the long term.
Think about the likely impact your decision will have on your wife and your children. Think about how your behaviour will impact on them. Your decision might come as a shock to your wife and her behaviour could be driven by emotion when you are thinking very rationally.
Be prepared to listen to the advice given by the professionals, but also be prepared to listen to your wife. Listen without reacting and you might find you can move things along more amicably than if you respond in anger or defensively to things she might say or claim.
Don’t, however, listen to advice from “that bloke down the pub”. Many people these days have a story about divorce, for a lot of them it will be first-hand – but every separation is unique. What was good for another husband or father may not be good for you.
Listening to your mate who tells you he knows what you should do may, at best, give you a false view of what will happen. At worst, it could cost you money, time and damage relationships with family, friends and, potentially, your children.
If you are considering making the first move in a divorce, make sure you have a plan and have considered all the implications. The decision you are about to make will have far reaching consequences and change your life – and that of others – forever.
Don’t drag your children into the dispute with your wife
This is the best divorce advice for dads that I know. True also for mums, of course, and should be the central consideration for all couples going through a family breakup. You need to try to keep things civil with your wife for the children’s sake.
It is understandable to want to discuss the situation with your children, particularly if you feel you have been wronged. But you have to remember that they are the innocent party in these matters and that they need to remain children, rather than having adult conversations with you about the situation.
Of course, you should tell them that there is going to be a change in their circumstances, but reassure them that you and your wife are doing everything possible to agree the arrangements and that you will, of course, always be their dad.
You may stop being husband and wife, but you will never stop being parents and so should try to maintain a constructive, ongoing relationship for the sake of your kids. It is what is important for them that is most important after all.
A really key piece of divorce advice for fathers is – do not get your kids involved in any discussions about the divorce. It is not fair on them, can cause lasting damage and is only likely to cause more heartache. As tempting as it may be, don’t use them as messengers between you and your wife.
If you need to get a message through to your wife, then do it directly and, if she tries to use the children to pass messages to you, respond to her directly. Don’t say negative things about their mum. You may no longer have feelings for her, but they certainly do, so don’t put them in a difficult position.
Do everything you can to reach an agreement
There is an old cliché that woman can keep an argument going longer than a man. From our experience in the family law sector, both sides can be as bad as each other on this. However, prolonging an argument, digging your heels in, arguing a point of principle – none of these things do anything at all to help in a divorce negotiation on any topic.
Do whatever you can to reach an agreement without ending up needing to go to court to seek a judge’s view. Going to court guarantees only that things taking longer and cost you more. It guarantees neither side the outcome they want.
If you find it hard to talk to your wife without things getting heated, consider mediation – it’s not a soft option as some might think, and it could help you come to that agreement or clarify the things you really need legal advice on.
Be prepared to negotiate firmly, but fairly. Bearing in mind what I have said above, you still have the right to stand your ground if you feel you are being unfairly treated. However, bullying tactics won’t be appreciated by your wife, her solicitor or, should it come to it, the courts. You might not think you are bullying, but sometimes men in a stressed situation come across as aggressive, which is intimidating and can bring out the worse in the other party.
What is a man entitled to in a divorce?
Does a man get half in a divorce UK?
Divorce rights for men are no different to those for women. The theoretical starting point for the division of assets in divorce is a 50:50 split. However, that doesn’t mean this is what you will actually end up with.
If you can negotiate a divorce settlement, then what you get will depend on what you are able to agree with your ex-spouse. It is important to have the support of an expert family lawyer during this process to help you negotiate a fair settlement.
If you need a court to decide how your assets should be divided, then it will look at factors including:
- Your respective ages
- How long you were married
- Both parties’ current and future earning capacity
- The needs of any children
- Each party’s contributions during the marriage, both financial and otherwise
- Your standard of living during your marriage and your ongoing living expenses
- The property and assets available (including pensions)
You should always seek specialist legal advice as soon as divorce becomes a possibility to make sure you fully understand what you may be entitled to and to give you the best chance of achieving a fair division of assets.
Who gets the house in a divorce?
The family home is an asset like any other. Its value will need to be factored into any divorce settlement you negotiate, or that is decided by a court. If you have children, it is common for the parent the children will primarily be living with to stay in the family home, but this is not necessarily essential.
Who gets to stay in the house during separation?
There is no definitive answer to this as it will usually need to be agreed between the separating spouses with the support of their lawyers. In theory, you can both continue to live in the family home if you wish, although in practice one spouse will usually move out.
If you have children, you should make sure to carefully consider their best interests during this time of transition.
It is important to note that moving out of the family home during a separation does not affect your legal rights with regard to the property, but you should always take expert legal advice first to ensure you fully understand all of the implications of your divorce.
What should a man ask for in a divorce settlement?
Men’s rights in divorce and what you should ask for in a divorce settlement will entirely depend on the circumstances. It is essential to take early legal advice so you can be confident in what you are seeking in a financial settlement.
While it is understandable to be emotional and even angry about the divorce, you should try not to let this influence your approach to a settlement. Allowing your emotions to rule your actions can make it much harder to reach a settlement without resorting to costly and time-consuming court proceedings. An experienced family lawyer can help you to take a pragmatic approach to help you reach a settlement.
The key principles to remember are that your divorce settlement should meet your needs and that the settlement should be fair to both parties, as well as any children. Keeping this in mind can help you to be realistic about what to ask for and give you the best chance of achieving a negotiated settlement with the support of your lawyer.
Our divorce lawyers will be happy to advise on the legal position and support you through reaching a settlement with your former spouse.
Understanding fathers’ rights in divorce
There is something of a misconception that the law is anti-dads when it comes to divorce and them seeing their children. There are, in fact, no hard and fast rules about where children should live and how much time they should spend with each parent after divorce.
However, it is true that practical considerations must be considered. The age of the children, school arrangements, each parent’s ability to care for their children, coupled with the location and facilities where each parent lives will need to be considered.
In terms of rights – the law concerns itself with the rights of the child. A right to have a relationship with both parents, provided that is in their best interests.
What the law doesn’t attempt to set out is where a child should live or how much time they should spend with each parent. That’s really down to the parents to agree, or if they are unable to do so, for the court to decide and make a court order, in the form of a Child Arrangements Order.
If you are considering divorce, make sure you use an experienced family law specialist who is on your side. A specialist who you can get on with is worth their weight in gold and is very cost-effective in the long run! They can explain the pros and cons and should always advise the amicable approach, suggested above.
How should a man prepare for divorce?
Key things you will need to think about when getting divorced are:
- Where will you live?
- What will your financial needs be?
- If you have children, what do you want your relationship with them to look like after the divorce?
- What sort of relationship do you want, or need, to have with your spouse going forward?
- What support do you need? Many men are uncomfortable admitting that they are struggling, but you stand a much better chance of moving forward and having a positive future if you are able to clearly identify where you need help and then seek out the right support.
- Getting the right legal advice – this can make all the difference, both to your chances of reaching an agreement on the division of assets and on the care of your children.
What should a man do after divorce?
Going through a divorce can be stressful and upsetting, but in some ways, the period after the divorce is finalised can be the toughest for a lot of people.
Sorting out the practical details of the divorce gives you something to focus on – when that is done, many people find themselves feeling lost, alone and having to deal with the emotional side of the divorce that they may have put to one side up until that point.
There are various organisations that offer support for men and dad’s following divorce, such as Gingerbread for single parents. If you are struggling with your own emotions or mental health, you could also consider speaking to your GP or a mental health professional.
While this is something many people would prefer to avoid, it can make all the difference to your immediate and long-term happiness.
Family lawyer Derby
This blog consolidates three of our earlier blog posts which attracted the following comments:
“It is not that divorce is harder on men, it’s that they deal with the emotions at a later point than women do”
“It is not that divorce is harder on men, it’s that they deal with the emotions at a later point than women do. Typically, it is the woman who initiates the divorce and because of this, she begins what I call the “Emotional Shut Down Syndrome.” During the relationship she decides it is over and she begins the grieving process, leading to a point where her emotions are severed from her husband. This can take many months or years to happen. By the time she informs her husband she wants out of the marriage, he is at the beginning stages of the emotional roller coaster ride while she at the end. Regarding counselling for men, I agree, they tend to have an aversion to going. Eighty-five to 100% of my clients are men who come to me for divorce. Although by training I am a marriage and family therapist, my work is not counselling. Instead, I work with men for no more than 1-2 sessions using mediation techniques to get them through the challenging period. Basically, I’m not in the business in emotions but in telling them what they need to do. They respond favourably to this.”
By Nancy Fagan on Wednesday October 6, 2010
“men tend towards a practical approach to problem solving and take what is said literally”
“From my experience (but avoiding stereotypes), I find that men tend towards a practical approach to problem solving and take what is said literally, whereas women tend to express themselves and problem solve in different way. I’ve seen cases where husband & wife have the same goals (ie. achieving what’s best for their kids), but need translation to properly understand what the other is saying and meaning. The difference in communication also extends into coping and being open to help, I agree the men tend to be adverse to going to “counselling”, but call it something else and they can be easier to convince that it’s a good idea – perhaps a “counsellor” for women, and a “solutions coach” for men?”
By Colin Mitchell on Wednesday October 6, 2010
“men psychologically fare less well, on average, after long-term marriages end, than women do, unless they remarry”
“Based on the longevity figures for men v. women when widowed, my educated guess is that men psychologically fare less well, on average, after long-term marriages end, than women do, unless they remarry. The only good news for them is that above a certain age, so many of the other men have already passed on, that the remaining suddenly single men may find themselves to be hot commodities, if they’re at least coherent, continent, clean and solvent.”
By Richard Gould-Saltman on Wednesday October 6, 2010
“women and men handle divorce very differently, especially when they are not the party seeking the divorce”
“I noticed early on in my practice that women and men handle divorce very differently, especially when they are not the party seeking the divorce. When a woman comes into my office because her husband is divorcing her, she is very often distraught, at a loss as to what her future holds, sometimes desperate to hold onto a life she thought she had, and traumatized by the fact that her husband has left her. However, by the end of the process, she is usually in much better shape. She will often have a handle on her new life, have her social networks in place, and generally have a plan for her future.
“Men, on the other hand, will come to my office and appear to be in better shape initially when they are being divorced by the spouse. But as the divorce process continues, they become more and more unhinged and are more of an emotional wreck by the end of the divorce. I think it is because men are in survival-mode in the beginning, and when they accept the fact that they are getting a divorce, they decide to just deal with it on a business level and move on. But they don’t really deal with it on an emotional level, and the emotions come back to haunt them. Women, however, may come close to an emotional breakdown when first confronted with the loss of the spouse, and then slowly but surely begin to rebuild their lives.
“I think the word “coaching” is helpful in getting men to seek the help they need, and I suggest a visit to the doctor for meds if the client has trouble coping. (That advice goes for women, too). I am a big fan of therapy and urge my clients to consider it in almost every case.”
By Annette Henry on Thursday October 7, 2010
“I hope the men out there listen”
“Bravo! I hope the men out there listen and the women out there, give them a chance to take the right approach and do not hold a grudge for past errors.”
By Karen Agnew-Griffith on Thursday October 10, 2013
“Great to see you promoting mediation as an option to sort out differences”
“Great to see you promoting mediation as an option to sort out differences. Great stuff Andrew. From Emma at Family Mediation Centre Staffordshire”
By Emma Turner on Thursday October 17, 2013