Five tips to help you have a tidy divorce – from a family lawyer

Divorces can be ugly, lengthy and expensive – but they don’t need to be. Here are five tips to help you have a ‘tidy’ divorce, and save yourself money, time and stress.

While many of us dream of a magical wedding, followed by a happy marriage no one want divorce as part of their future. However, many marriages, for whatever reason, do not last.

Divorce is stressful and emotional and that can make it all the more difficult to deal with your ex and negotiate new arrangements for your children, disentangle your finances and plan for a very different future. Emma Nash, a Partner in the Family Team at Fletcher Day, shares five tips to help make your divorce a little easier.

1) Keep it polite

You may feel like letting your opinions fly in messages or e-mails but if things do get complicated, particularly when it comes to children, and the Family Court gets involved, those late-night vindictive messages will not paint you in the best light.

It is best to keep matters civil and not rise to any provocation. You may not like the person anymore, but you still need to work with them for the sake of the children or until you have resolved your financial matters. If you are unable to communicate constructively with your ex then consider using a specialist app or third party such as your lawyer until matters improve.

2) Get organised

In order to resolve financial matters, you first need to know what assets and funds are available. This will include ‘matrimonial assets’, such as the family home and any wealth generated during the marriage, and ‘non-matrimonial assets’, such as pre-owned wealth or an inheritance.

Whether you need to share any non-matrimonial assets will depend on the circumstances of your case (this is where lawyers can help) but you still need to provide full details and expect the same from your ex. This includes providing documentary evidence of all bank accounts, pensions, property, investments and income.

The sooner you get organised and start keeping tidy records of these matters, the easier this process will be, and the less work your divorce lawyer will have to do.

3) Get professional help (and not just from lawyers)!

You may feel like you need to become a superhero to manage all the divorce work and still be there for your family, friends and work. In reality, most people will need support to get through this emotionally difficult and stressful time.  

Divorce lawyers are great for providing you with advice on the law, divorce procedure and alternative dispute resolution but there are others who can help you too. Seeking support from other professionals, such as therapists, or divorce coaches can help you to process what you are going through and help you prioritise for the future.

Getting independent financial advice early on can also help you to make better decisions about financial matters. You may be desperate to keep your home, but will that give you the best quality of life in retirement? Lawyers and other professionals can work together so, if you can, get a team around you to help support and advise you.

4) Consider mediation

Your ex may be the last person you want to speak to let alone sit in a room with to discuss the finer details of school routines and pensions. However, unless there are good reasons why it is not appropriate (such as in cases with domestic abuse), mediation can help people resolve matters quickly, civilly and with reduced legal fees.

Any family lawyer should be providing you with information on ways of avoiding court proceedings including mediation, collaborative family law or arbitration.

5) Consider a pre- or post-nuptial agreement

They may seem unromantic but having such an agreement in place can not only avoid complicated and acrimonious disputes during divorce but can also provide some certainty for both parties in the event that the marriage does not last.

Nuptial agreements in this country have to be fair to be upheld so you don’t need to worry about being left with nothing if you are the financially weaker party.  Be cautious though if you have international connections as the same agreement may be dealt with very differently in another country.

Even if you decide not to have a nuptial agreement at the very least considering such a document will be an excellent opportunity to understand more about your respective finances and plans for the future, something that many people do not adequately discuss when they agree to say “I do”. 

Fletcher Day’s Family Team can advise on all family law related matters. If you would like to get in touch you can contact Emma Nash in the London office or Anita Shepherd in the Manchester office.

Photo by Andrew Le