Contemplating separation can be a daunting prospect. It can be difficult to know where to start. Whilst you may have friends and family who have experienced separation, their input may not always be helpful or relevant. Finding the right solicitor is key to whether separation is managed efficiently and as painlessly as possible.
There are various considerations to bear in mind when thinking about next steps:
You may be worried about whether you are making the right decision, if you are choosing the separation. If you did not instigate it, you might want the opportunity to speak to your partner in a controlled environment. Either way, it can be useful to attend counselling with your partner to see whether there is any chance of saving the relationship. That way, and even though you will probably still be feeling upset and anxious, you will feel that you have done all you can. You might also want to consider counselling for yourself, so that you are as well-resourced as possible. A key to a successful separation is finding ways to minimise the negative impact of it on everyone involved, and wherever possible finding a way forward that enables both you and your partner to feel as okay as possible about the future.
When you first separate, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. There will seem so much to do, and so much that you feel you do not know. If you have children you will be trying to manage their reaction whilst yourself feeling anxious and worried. Make sure you have your support network in place. The better resourced you are, the stronger you can be for yourself and for those around you. Tackle things bit by bit so that you are not trying to do too much. Your family lawyer will be able to talk you through the process and give you clear action points as well as explaining what he or she will be doing on your behalf. That way, you will feel reassured that there is a clear plan for the way forward.
Often, one of the first aspects which often needs tackled is making sure there are appropriate arrangements in place for paying bills and all the other costs associated with daily living. When a couple separate and one moves out there are then two households to support, but still on the same budget. That can be very worrying. The first step is to put together a list of your monthly income and then your usual monthly expenses. That way you will be clear about what you have and what you need. Next, there can be discussion about how best to ensure your needs are met. If your partner is reluctant to co-operate, then your family lawyer will be able to advise you on the steps that they can take to sort that out for you. If you are worried about how the mortgage or other liabilities will be paid, contact the providers as soon as possible to make them aware of your concerns.
Knowledge is power. Fear of the consequences of relationship breakdown and lack of knowledge about outcomes can be daunting for many people. Weighing the options before taking a decision that is suited to your own circumstances is essential. Arranging a consultation with a Family Law Specialist can provide valuable background information in relation to your legal stand point and the options open to you. The more you know, the easier separation will be.
Thinking about your future
Consider what you want for your short, medium and long term future. Do you want to remain in the matrimonial home or would you prefer a fresh start elsewhere? It is important you think about what you would like to happen, even at an early stage, as this can help you make decisions at a later stage as things progress.
It is not only legal advice that is important. You may want to consider advice from a financial advisor particularly if there is a possibility of a pension being shared as part of your separation/divorce. A specialist family solicitor will be able to highlight to you when input from a financial advisor would be appropriate.
It can be difficult to know when and how to tell your children about the decision to separate. It is important that children know that you are there to listen to them and that you understand that they may have many questions about what the future holds. Remember that there are many helpful resources available to assist separating parents in talking to their children about a change in family circumstances. Remember too that research shows that children can cope with parental separation well, as long as their parents approach the separation in a sensitive and mindful way. A solicitor with experience of dealing with cases involving children will be able to guide you through separation in a way that keeps the interests of your children at the centre of discussions.
There are various ways of resolving the issues which require to be addressed. Going to Court is often the last resort. Choosing the correct process is important, as this sets the tone for future progress. It is important to choose a solicitor who is qualified to give you information about the various processes available, helping you to choose the right process for your circumstances.
Just as it is important to choose the correct process, it is just as important to find a solicitor who is the right fit for you. As well as having specialist expertise and knowledge, it is essential that you are able to feel comfortable speaking to your solicitor openly and that you trust that they understand your aims.