The Four Phases of Divorce and Separation and How to Manage Them

Peter Marples
Peter Marples
Fair Result

As professionals operating for many years in the divorce market, there are similarities in every divorce we are involved in.

Whilst the process itself often causes distress – the common phases which most people experience are:

  • Time
  • Cost
  • Uncertainty
  • Stress

How you manage each of these, which occur either during the entire divorce process or can be experienced intermittently is key to both understanding and planning on how you deal with each of them.


It takes time to make the decision itself to divorce or separate. Often years of misery ultimately bring the moment upon which there is a ‘tipping point’.

Whilst that is a milestone itself, the time taken to divorce can be long and you need to plan for this.

Even the simplest of divorces will take a minimum of six months – that is the process set by the Justice system, giving parties time to cool off if they want to or to plan arrangements. We have never seen a situation where a couple uses the 20 weeks cooling off to actually reconcile but I am sure there are some.

But too often, couples apply for a divorce and DON’T use the 20-week cooling-off period to actively manage the financial aspects of the divorce. This process should run in parallel to the divorce itself so that if negotiations are effective then you will be ready to finalise the financials and the divorce itself as soon as the process enables you to do it.

So, the first tip is to use the time from filing the divorce application to immediately commencing the financial negotiations.


Costs can be significant, the process slow and the quality-of-service provision poor from advisors. As we have said many times before, you wouldn’t build a house extension or even have your house decorated at an hourly rate, so why does everyone agree to this when going through a divorce?

Your lawyer will say ‘they can’t give you a fixed price because they don’t know what is involved’ when the reality is that 80% of divorces require the same processes and anyone with a few years of experience should be able to judge the likely time required, accepting some tasks will take longer than expected but sometimes they don’t take as long. It’s no different to when you are digging foundations.

So, make sure you get a fixed price for your divorce – not an estimate. A fixed price gives you certainty and, in my opinion, means your lawyer is focused on getting you a result, often quicker than charging you in 6-minute increments.

So never get an estimate, always a fixed price for each element of your divorce and make sure they stick to it – even better if you don’t have to pay until the divorce is finalised.


Probably the biggest issue in any divorce or separation, both before the separation occurs, during the divorce and frequently after.

We have many situations where spouses often stay together because they simply cannot bear the uncertainty of a new future – despite how miserable they may be with their existing relationship. We hear all too often, still in this modern world of spouses that have restricted funding and men in particular use this as leverage to keep them in the relationship and marriage, however unhappy they may be.

Whilst the future is uncertain, for most people they do move on quickly after a marriage, either alone, with extended family or with a new partner.

With finances pooled in a marriage, despite my observation above they are always going to go further than when a couple have to set up two homes and have two sets of overheads. It will be inevitable for a year or more, the finances will be strained. It’s much akin to a couple stretching themselves to buy their first home – after 18 months or so, the financial stretch doesn’t seem so bad.

The key is to try and look forward – life will change, often for the better with a new partner and the grass can be often greener on the other side of divorce.

Don’t let the uncertainty keep you in a miserable relationship. We often maintained contact with our former clients who tell us ‘It’s the best thing I ever did.

And finally,


Divorce and separation is often the most stressful experience of someone’s life, much more so than the loss of a loved one through death, loss of a job, or other sudden shock.

It causes some sense of failure, uncertainty, and above all – how to move on.

The unknown of the divorce process, the unwinding of joint finances, the arguing and battling to agree on parenting arrangements and indeed finances are all matters that cause significant stress.

Stress needs to be managed and it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. Quite often, we refer our clients to CBT support – just 2/3 sessions will bring a sense of perspective to what is happening, enabling individuals to cope with the short-term impact of divorce and separation.

Finding a professional who can help you with all of this as part of your divorce team is important. Look for those that are available 24/7 – our unique WhatsApp group provide such support.

Get help and support and ask your advisors before you appoint them how they can help you.


To get out of that miserable relationship is never without pain, but it is a short-term pain for long-term gain. Don’t be frightened as you are not alone and make sure you find a family law practice that understands the issues described above and most importantly helps mitigate them, not exacerbate them!

Read more articles by Peter Marples.

About Peter Marples

Peter Marples – Director of Fair Result and qualified accountant, with the determination to change the way divorce is transacted. For further advice on financial settlements and navigating divorce, use the contact details below:

  • Email
  • Give the team a call – 07500933818 or 0333 577 7009
  • Complete an enquiry form

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