The end of marriage is very rarely easy. You’ve tried to work things out over a period of time, but it hasn’t worked. In some cases tempers get frayed, emotions run high and it all kicks off. Accusations and counter accusations fly. There is no agreement on anything. You just want a divorce to get out of the situation and be able to move on.
In other cases things are more amicable but the couple are content that the relationship is over and both want to move on. Divorce might seem the natural option, with a focus of getting things sorted as quickly as possible.
However, there is another section of people for whom immediate divorce is not the right way. They may have accepted that the marriage cannot be salvaged and divorce is the (likely) end game, but not just now thanks. Too much going on. Let’s do this calmly and slowly. We’ll agree to separate but not to divorce. There could be religious reasons behind this, a fear of the sudden impact on the children, or a couple are just too emotionally drained already to pick over every detail of the marriage to try to reach a divorce settlement.
Can people in this position do anything though to make their position legally more secure? After all, it would not be beyond the realms of possibility for one or both of the parties to move on with their life, perhaps starting a new relationship with all the potential emotional and often financial implications. Whilst initially relations may be sound when the party that’s in a new relationship starts taking expensive holidays, buys a new car or generally seems to be ‘splashing out’ this can cause resentment. This is often when an amicable separation can lead to a nasty divorce.
So for any couple deciding to separate the starting point perhaps is an adult conversation about what is best for all of you. Proceed with a divorce to finalise everything once and for all or have some sort of interim separation agreement setting out who will start divorce proceedings when the time is right, a clear steer on division of assets and financial obligations, and how the children will be financially supported. Now, this may sound on the face of it like what you will do in a divorce anyway, but it can be much easier for people to focus on what will happen in the future rather than the here and now. And it means that, further down the road, there is less likely to be significant dispute. It also means certain situations (like new relationships) to be tackled allowing both parties to think through the implications at a time when emotions are not quite so raw. Indeed, the conversations over these issues can often be much easier and more relaxed if you are not in the vanguard of divorce.
However, for some people the decision to divorce is an easy one and they want it sorted. If there is a measure of agreement on issues like finances and children, this can lead to quite a swift conclusion to the divorce – though the myth of a quickie divorce remains just that, a myth. You will get through the divorce process as quickly as possible if you do not contest claims and stay out of court, but it will still take around six months.
Only you can decide the best route for you, but there is lots of advice out there. This should logically start with a discussion with your estranged spouse, and may extent to friends and family, ideally with advice from an experienced family law solicitor, whichever route you follow.
Article written for OnlyDads by Andrew Woolley of Woolley & Co, divorce and family law solicitors. For further information about divorce and separation visit the Woolley & Co, Solicitors website.
©Woolley & Co, Solicitors 2013