What to do when a summer break becomes a summer break-up
Summer holidays together can highlight fractures in a relationship '“ and even become the tipping point for some.
For floundering relationships, a summer break together can place undue pressure on a situation that’s already difficult. Extra time together in close quarters, the pressure to have a great time and stress over costs can highlight or exacerbate what is wrong with your union.
According to research from Washington University in America the weeks following traditional summer holiday season often see a spike in the number of couples rethinking their future together, and taking steps to divorce.
The research suggests couples may attempt one ‘final fling’ in the sun with the family to test whether their relationship can cope. If that doesn’t work, it can provide the spark to start afresh.
While divorce will feel daunting, there is expert support to get you through. Here the team at Banner Jones Solicitors offer their guide to making it as straight-forward as possible.
Take it easy
Bringing your marriage to an end doesn’t have to mean you head straight to the divorce courts.
Many couples opt to separate before they take the final step.
A Separation Agreement can set out the agreed financial arrangements although as you are still married a Judge will not approve it, so it is not always legally binding. However if drafted correctly, using recent case law guidelines it, it may be upheld by the court if there is a future dispute.
Talk it over
Mediation will help you both make important decisions, such as what to do about the family home, assets, debts and, of course, the children’s future.
Often less stressful than confronting each other in court, it involves a neutral third party who listens to both parties and draws up what they think is a fair settlement for all.
You can still take legal advice during the procedure and, if you don’t agree with the settlement proposal, you can still opt to go to court.
Making it final
If you decide that reconciliation is not possible and that you want to plunge straight into the divorce process, your lawyer will guide you step by step, advising you along the way to ensure you get the best outcome. Remember though, you need to specify which of the five grounds for divorce apply to your marriage and that simply not loving each other anymore is not enough in current UK law. The five grounds for divorce are:
• unreasonable behaviour
• two years of separation, with both parties’ consent
• five years of separation (consent not necessary)
Remember the children
For their sake, it’s vital to keep lines of communication open and to reach an agreement that is in their best interests.
Talk to them about what’s happening – avoiding unnecessary details that they don’t need to know – and agree a childcare rota that suits everyone.
Bear in mind the childcare rota will have to adapt around remaining school holidays, and the important festive season.
Let the children’s school know that your family circumstances have changed; schools have experience in helping youngsters cope with what’s quite a difficult period in their lives.
Couples who cannot reach a mutual decision regarding contact arrangements for the children may opt to apply for a Child Arrangements Order. This would help to set out when the children should spend time with each parent, including arrangements for the school holidays and Christmas for example. If there are other more ‘specific’ issues such as which school the children should attend; or which religion the children should follow then you can apply for a “Specific Issue Order” under section eight of the Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989).
Emotions are probably running high and there’s bound to be some tension between you.
Try to remain on good terms if you can– it may be hard, but it will make the process easier, and try to avoid bickering over items that really aren’t that important – such as who owns the dining table – as they only add to the stress and may even drag the process out longer than it needs to be.
We would advise that you save any emails, texts or messages that may be important, such as any last minute changes to childcare plans. These can be used as evidence if a dispute does occur later on in the case.
Do remember you’re not alone, 42 per cent of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce.
To find out more about separation or divorce proceedings, go to https://www.bannerjones.co.uk/for-you-your-family/services/family-law/relationships-and-children
Or call 0114 275 5266 to speak to one of our experts.