How to Divorce?
I met a wife in mediation a couple of weeks ago who was clutching her twenty page list of chattels she ‘must have’ from the formal matrimonial home.
She admitted that it was not really about the chattels but more that ‘if I get them then the bastard won’t have them’.
How much had they spent thus far on their divorce? £75,000 each in legal fees.
How about the acrimonious couple whose middle child was seeing her third child-psychologist?
The couple couldn’t sit in the same room together and managed the handover of their children via a nanny at a local MacDonald’s. Neither parent considered their child’s psychological ills were in any way connected to their behaviour. Did their marriage start off like this? Didn’t they set out to love, nurture and protect their children from birth?
Luckily, mediators are much more central in the divorce frame than they were five years ago.
Clients should be encouraged to divorce collaboratively, even when this doesn’t mean embracing the whole Collaborative model. Often six sessions with a good mediator, agreeing a healthy child-contact or residency plan and clarifying the money issues, with the solicitors in the background to support, then a mediated round table meeting with lawyers, clients and mediator, can get couples much further. Many issues that might drag on for months and go to a final hearing can be settled in such a half-day mediation.
Here are 7 top tips for couples for a low-strife divorce:
- Don’t knee-jerk; take some time to look at the bigger picture; decide your options, see a mediator.
- Avoid taking advice from embittered divorcee friends. Be extra wary of conversations that start: ‘you should take the bastard to the cleaners…’
- Get a recommendation to a solicitor who knows how to keep the divorce temperature low.
- Find out about Collaborative Divorce.
- Look after yourself in divorce; get some counselling; look at www.psychotherapy.org.uk
- Be aware of your children’s psychological wellbeing. There are excellent resources for children of divorcing parents. Try aKidSpace: www.akidspace.co.uk
- Keep communication channels open with your ex-spouse; be aware of your children playing one of you off against the other.
- Finally, remember; you will have to parent your children together for ever!