Divorce is not 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. However, by sticking to just three pieces of advice, you can get through it relatively unscathed and look to the future with optimism and hope.
Tongue biting - If you have kids and those kids are going to live with mum, which is still the most common outcome, try to understand that it is better to bite your tongue rather than argue over every little thing. That will not help anyone, particularly the children who will be confused and upset as it is.
It will be a very emotional time for everyone and it will be difficult. However, it is the right thing to do and can have far-reaching, positive repercussions. Divorce can be like a tug of war and if you pull hard, the other side will retaliate and dig their heels in. Bite your tongue and bide your time and things will calm down. Hopefully, your wife will do the same. If not, you will be doing what is right and it will bring benefits in the longer term.
There is a perception that if you do not retaliate to provocation, your ex will take advantage and push things further and further. In my experience, this is not the norm and family law solicitors should always seek to put in place arrangements that are not significantly skewed to one party or the other.
Be nice – Following on from the last point, you need to build an amicable working platform with your ex. You may stop being married but you do not stop being parents. You will need to talk, organise, and coordinate for a whole range of things. That works if, from the start, you are pragmatic about it. The knock-on effect will be that it makes so many other things easier to sort out, notably finances during the divorce, which is the second biggest issue to sort after the children.
If there is good will between the parties, there is more likely to be common sense across all things that need to be sorted. This is easier said than done. You are getting divorced so you probably don’t like each other much at that point but you have to find a way to have a workable relationship.
Don’t panic about money – In this day and age, it is more likely that there are two incomes into the household to consider, pensions, savings accounts etc. The idea that you are going to be “taken to the cleaners” is not something you should lose sleep about. It may be more common to relinquish some of the value in any property owned, but that could be offset by keeping a greater portion of any pension pot(s) and bank accounts. Put simply, there are four steps to sorting the finances:
- Establish what assets there are
- Quantify their value
- Negotiate on who gets what
- Get a court order to make the settlement legal.
That’s it. No matter how many or how few assets you have.
So, the recurring theme here is stay calm and reasonable. If you can manage to do that (and it will not be easy) you will be on track to the most satisfactory outcome all round – and it could save you a fortune by bringing an end to the marriage as quickly as possible.
Family law solicitor, Sutton Coldfield