January is officially dubbed “divorce month” by professionals working in the relationship sector – with inquiries traditionally spiking and reportedly even doubling straight after the festive period.
Financial pressures associated with the big spend on Christmas itself and family tensions over the extended holiday are generally blamed for the surge in break-ups during an intense two or three week period guaranteed to test any couple who are going through difficulties.
More time spent with in-laws and other extended family members can increase the pressure which can lead to people blurting out those things that they’ve been bottling up. It may be that one spouse has been considering divorce for some time but decided to wait until after Christmas to avoid awkwardness at family gatherings, or so that the holiday won’t be ruined for the children.
Dovetail Divorce is a consortium of experts who approach the problems in a very different way. A team of lawyers, mediators, financial advisers and coaches work together to make the process as painless as possible for the couple, and particularly for any children involved.
Operating across the Yorkshire region, their aim is to nurture an amicable relationship between the parties and, wherever possible, to reach the best settlement for all concerned without needing to end up in court.
The team has issued some tips to help couples considering divorce this January.
Delia Crofts-Turnbull of JWP Solicitors is a specialist in family law and collaborative law. She said:
“Firstly, ask yourself are you ready to divorce? That’s where a relationship counsellor may be able to help. You might first want to explore whether separation or divorce is actually the best route to take. With commitment and support, a relationship can often be changed for the better even if just one person alters their approach to it.
“If you do decide to proceed, take a step back before rushing off to court. There are a number of stages like Arbitration, Mediation, Round Table or Collaboration which can lead to a more harmonious settlement.
“A collaborative divorce means sitting down in the same room as your ex-partner but with each of you having your own lawyer at your side, helping and advising you on how to resolve your disputes. It allows you to come to decisions between you that the courts may not have thought of.
“Do seek the whole range of support available to you. A divorce coach will teach you how to cope, keep calm and communicate effectively. This will give you confidence to make the right decisions about your future, knowing you did the best for yourself and your family.
“Try not to get angry – if only for the sake of your children. Always remember that this is a stressful time for them too. They may not understand why Mummy and Daddy aren’t together anymore. A coach or counsellor will help the children understand what is happening and the process that is going on around them and ensure that reducing the impact on them is always a high priority”.
Robert Cresswell of Gordian Financial Services added:
“Do seek financial advice before agreeing to a settlement”.
“In a survey of 2,000 married adults, more than a third (37%) said financial pressures were the biggest challenge to their marriage, while 22% said most of their arguments centred on money. This is only going to get worse if you’ve decided to split up.
“Deciding who gets what and how to split money when divorcing can be a stressful process. Some people do even stay in an unhappy relationship for fear they might end up with nothing and find themselves in a financially precarious position. If you’re the partner who’s taken a back seat with family finance, suddenly having to take control of it can knock your confidence and leave you feeling very confused and anxious.
“Bringing in an Independent Financial Advisor can take that pressure off. They will sit down with you and help you to understand the value of your assets and how best to divide them, making sure that you leave the table in a financially stable position.”
In a nutshell, this new collaborative approach means that, unlike traditional divorce proceedings, there’s no extended and acrimonious communication via solicitors’ letters or having your future decided in court if things don’t work out.
The couples set the agenda and talk about the issues that matter most to their family, can take their time to consider all options, rather than being governed by court timetables and can hopefully reach a more painless agreement that is best for everyone.
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