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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Staying friends after a divorce

Divorcing and staying friends.

Divorce is an extremely emotional and difficult step in anyone’s lives. None of us ever imagine whilst standing at the altar or during that dream wedding in the Seychelles that ultimately it will end up as an acrimonious divorce. The question is does it have to be that way, does it have to be a battle or can a couple remain friends when they divorce? The simple answer to that is no, it doesn’t have to be horribly acrimonious, and yes, it is possible to keep your relationship with your ex friendly. But it all depends on your attitude and that of your spouse – and of course the approach taken by your lawyer.

I have dealt with hundreds and hundreds of divorces during my career. I always offer the same advice to everyone - if you can deal with it amicably it is always the best and most positive way. This is particularly the case if there are children involved as this means, in most cases, that the separating parents will be inextricably linked for many years to come.

Choose your divorce lawyer carefully

As resolution accredited family lawyers we are encouraged at all times to take an amiable approach. That means in the way we draft correspondence, in the advice we give to our clients and how we liaise with the other parties involved. We approach things in a constructive and non-confrontational way and avoid inflammatory language in correspondence and conversations with all parties. So with the right lawyer you are more likely to have your divorce conducted in a civilised manner.

The government is trying to encourage couples to settle their matrimonial differences outside of the court room. Mediation is now a forerunner to contested proceedings regarding children and is always recommended on financial matters and most lawyers encourage their clients that “point scoring” and “mud slinging” is a thing of the past.  

Whilst disagreements over the arrangements for the children or financial disputes may be emotive and at times complicated it’s nearly always true that the court room isn’t the best place to see them resolved. If you are able to reach an agreement between yourselves, rather than be bound by the decision of a complete stranger (the Judge) you are far more likely to resolve matters amicably. In my experience you’re also more likely to reach an agreement you are both happy with, rather than with a court ruling where often both parties walk away unhappy.

Whilst it may not always be possible to divorce and stay friends you can certainly improve your chances of having a civil relationship with your ex. I agree it is not always easy. In cases where the one party has had an extra marital relationship or there has been emotional or physical abuse then understandably emotions run high and sometimes forgiveness is a long way off. But sometimes drawing a line under the marriage and allowing both parties to lead independent lives makes it easier to get along.  I often have divorced clients say to me that they get on much better with their former partner now than they have done for a long time in an unhappy marriage.

If you are embarking on the divorce process it is worth thinking therefore, can we sort matters out without a court? Is arguing over arrangements for the children really in their best interests? Can we deal with matters in an adult and non confrontational manner? And ultimately – can we salvage any kind of relationship or even a friendship?

There is no doubt that in the long run this approach bears dividends.

Andrew Robotham
Divorce & family lawyer Derby

 

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