29 December, 2015
If you have simply run the Christmas errands because that is what is expected, or making efforts to put on a brave face in case Christmas celebrations would be miserable for everyone, then please be aware that you were not alone.
It is not surprising that every year January is our busiest time as divorce lawyers. The month of December is typically a relatively quiet one here in my office, most couples who are on the verge of separation are intent on 'holding out' through Christmas for the sake of the family.
The truth is, there is never a good time to 'call it a day'. There is usually a party who is emotionally behind the other in terms of accepting the inevitable. For a number of reasons, it seems to be the case that couples will want to get Christmas 'out of the way', before taking steps to formally end their relationship.
Whilst talking about your sad situation to friends and family may well have the effect of sharing (and therefore easing) your pain, you should remember that when dealing with the practical issues of where you are to live, how the care of the children will be shared, and how you will organise your finances, you are unlikely to receive
realistic advice from those close to you, who of course will be partisan and utter those dreaded words: "Well, that can't be fair?"
Whatever solace you may find in your friends and relations, remember that they will want to support you and stick up for you in every way, but this does not mean that they will be able to offer you a realistic and unbiased view of how your divorce should pan out.
We tend to find that couples who have 'bottled it up' for Christmas, hurry into our offices in January, desperate for an immediate solution. It is true that time is a great healer, not only of the emotions, but also of situations. There is very rarely a 'quick fix' solution to your newly separated situation. There are a lot of steps that you can take yourself to try and bring some structure to your prospective separation or newly separated position: Remember that friends and family are there to listen and offer you emotional support. They are not there to advise you about legal matters.
Remember also that your lawyer is the actual opposite! An experienced lawyer will extract from you all the relevant information they need carefully and sensitively, and advise you on those facts.
Be realistic in your expectations - I am frequently taken by surprise at how many couples expect their standard of living to remain the same as when they were living under one roof. Remember that the aim is to try to create two separate homes where there was just one, from the same resources, and therefore very rarely is it possible to keep up the same standard.
Do be open-minded about mediation. I find a lot of people confuse mediation with marriage guidance. Mediation is a service which offers to help couples to try and resolve practical matters arising from separation or divorce. It is not designed to discuss whether the relationship can still work, but helps both parties to move forward and co-operate in making decisions.
Do get some legal advice, even if it is on an 'unbundled basis'. Many firms of solicitors will now offer a meeting or consultation at a fixed fee, to try to put you on the right route and keep your expectations at a realistic level.
Remember also that the court process should be viewed as a last resort, when mediation and negotiations have failed.
Do not discuss your separation with children or in front of children. They should be encouraged to continue to love and respect both parents, and they should be allowed to continue to do this.
Forbes' Family Team prides themselves in providing compassionate legal support.