New year, new start: dos and don'ts for a dignified divorce
Family law solicitors see a spike in calls at the beginning of January as the pressure Christmas puts on couples sparks a rush in enquiries.
Here Michaela Heathcote, a divorce expert at Sheffield solicitors Taylor&Emmet LLP, shares with us her guidelines for a dignified divorce.
Take a deep breath: Stay calm and take time to reflect on your situation. Don’t make any snap decisions; instead, talk through your feelings with friends or family or maybe speak to your doctor if it’s causing you stress. Look after yourself – you will need to be in good shape mentally and physically to deal with the months ahead.
Seek legal advice as soon as possible: Knowledge is power, even if you decide not to act upon the advice. Make sure you know your rights and responsibilities, as well as the options available to you. Always see an expert solicitor and make sure it is someone you like; check out Resolution’s list of accredited family law specialists in your area.
Make a list and get organised: Before seeing a solicitor, write down your questions so you can cover everything you wish to discuss. Try to gather up your financial information before your first meeting; you will get the best value out of the appointment if you have an idea of your assets and debts.
Focus on your children: Put children at the centre of any decisions and you won’t go far wrong.
Panic: You will be fine. The law is there to ensure that both parties’ needs are met and the overall settlement is fair. If you take the advice of your solicitor, you will come through it and be able to build a new future. Before making any decisions, though, think carefully about whether counselling might help you singly or as a couple.
Take revenge: Cutting up your partner’s clothes and throwing them out of the window may give you momentary satisfaction but it sends out the wrong message about how you will deal with the separation so grit your teeth and take the moral high ground.
Transfer money or try to hide it: It does not work and, once it becomes apparent what you’ve done, the courts will take a very dim view; they could even penalise you by way of a costs order.
Use children as weapons: When you are angry and frustrated, it may be tempting to refuse access to your children but at the end of the day, it won’t just be your ex who suffers.
For more information about divorce and separation, contact Taylor&Emmet’s family law team on (0114) 218 4000 or visit www.tayloremmet.co.uk