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Five tips for getting a good divorce


The concept of a good divorce may at first seem contradictory. Divorce is not a good thing for anyone. It is the culmination of a relationship breakdown that is likely to involve moving house, starting a new life and relationships with children, family and friends changing dramatically. There is a significant emotional toll and can cause financial issues also for some if they do not do their best to keep down the cost of the process.

For some though it can be the worst experience of their life, compounded by mental illness brought on by the stress of the whole thing. A recent study showed that even among those with no history of mental illness, depression was more likely during or after a divorce than among those who remain in a happy relationship.

So the concept of “good” is a relative one. I guess it means trying to make it as painless as possible by positively influencing whatever areas you can. Here are our top five tips on getting a “good” divorce.

  1. Get the best advice you can as early as you can. Make sure you speak to a specialist family lawyer. Ask them how many cases like yours they deal with each day and how long they’ve been doing this kind of work. Knowing your legal position early on will give you confidence, avoid you making mistakes in the way you handle things and take away some of the burden and worry.
  2. Try to avoid intransigent positions. You will need to compromise and negotiate to reach a settlement. Choosing not to, whether on a big issue or a minor one, causes stress, upset and costs more.
  3. Surround yourself with a good support network. True friends and supportive family will not encourage you to “take them for all they have got”. Instead they will support you and your wellbeing. If you feel things are getting too much, seek specialist help, whether that be to tackle the money side of things or the emotional strain. Soldiering on while everything around you seems to be collapsing is not good for you. It is normal to feel overwhelmed. If you need help, ask for it. It is no secret that divorced men and women are 35 per cent more likely to consult their GP than those in a relationship.
  4. If your other half is ‘nasty’, don’t rise to the bait. Going head-to-head with a soon-to-be-ex will only cause you anxiety and cost. Be the better person and look to the end you want to achieve, choosing the most sensible route to get there. A really good family lawyer can come into their own here to diffuse situations and act as the go between so you do not have to put up with direct abuse.
  5. Put the children first. Worrying about any children will preoccupy most parents during a divorce. By putting their needs and wellbeing first, and hopefully encouraging your partner to do the same, you will get some peace of mind and possibly some sense of grounding in the midst of all that is going on around you. They can be a massive support – but they need to be looked after first.

So whether or not you think there ever can be such a thing as a good divorce, there are steps you can take to make the way less rocky and help you get out of the other end feeling strong and looking forward to the new life ahead of you.

By Andrew Woolley
Family solicitor

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