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How do you mediate divorce with a narcissist?

Posted by on 11:06 am in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Divorce and Family Mediation, Financial Divorce Advice, Useful articles Finance, Useful articles Law | 0 comments

How do you mediate divorce with a narcissist?

There seems to be an increase in the number of divorcees accusing their spouses as being narcissistic, and it could be that the term is being used more widely because these days, it’s so easy to find a list on the internet of “How to spot if your spouse is a narcissist” – though many of the traits and ‘tell-tale signs” are not that far from behaviour most of us might demonstrate on a bad day!

But perhaps the apparent rise in this style of behaviour is a reflection of our times, and the focus on ‘me’ rather than ‘us’ – and material possessions. Which will always create conflicts for a financial planner, who wants divorcing clients to be looking to the future for the benefit of their whole family, not just their individual client – as they know that ultimately, the best investments won’t compensate for having kids who won’t talk to you anymore, because your lifestyle was focused more on income generation than spending time with your family.


Samantha Jago mediator, divorce mediation Guildford, divorce mediator Surrey, divorce GU

Family solicitor and Mediator, Samantha Jago of RHW Solicitors in Guildford, doesn’t believe that there has been a sudden rise in narcissistic clients.  “It’s more a human response to fear and anxiety. I wouldn’t say it is narcissistic as such, as more of a compensatory over-reaction to the ‘hurt’ of a relationship breakdown.”

Because of course divorce is a painful process, and people respond in different ways – which is why working with professionals who have not only expertise in their fields of law and finance is key, but also those experts who have an understanding of the psychological effects of divorce and the different ways that this can manifest in the behaviour of their clients.  

 So what are the implications of this behaviour, which can make using dispute resolution so challenging – leading often to an adversarial divorce, which has massive financial and emotional implications on their families and their work life?

“It can lead to individuals becoming totally entrenched in their views and position.”  Explains Samantha. “Obviously, there are also implications on their relationships with other family members and friends as they may be receiving perfectly rational advice on what they should do and end up regarding it as hostile. Ultimately, unless successfully challenged, the intransigence can lead to the failure of the whole mediation process.”



One of the key issues with narcissistic behaviour, is a complete lack of respect for boundaries. A narcissist shows wanton disregard for other people’s thoughts, feelings, possessions, and physical space. They think nothing of not returning money or items they have borrowed, repeatedly break promises without remorse – in fact they will usually blame the victim in some way (“Well, you shouldn’t have lent it to me then, should you?” or  “Why didn’t you remind me?  I don’t have that money to give to you now”).

As a family mediator, it can be challenging to use dispute resolution successfully, when one of the parties is refusing to empathise with their spouses’ position, and only seeing things from their own perspective.

They may feel that battling it out in court will show them ‘to be right’ – but of course they usually will end up spending a lot of money, making the situation even more hostile, and not really gaining the sense of victory that they seek.

“To be honest a lot of this comes down to how badly the relationship has broken down and individual situations. You cannot force anyone to be ‘reasonable’ who feels that they have been so badly treated that the option of being ‘reasonable’ with their ex-partner is just not a real option for them!”  Samantha recommends that clients in this situation talk to friends they trust, perhaps get some outside help to address mental health issues/anxiety and anger then they may be able to reassess where they really are.


“Working as a mediator allows me to offer more solutions and ways to avoid going down an adversarial route. I believe that ultimately, mediation puts the divorcing couple in control of the divorce, instead of being told what to do by a judge.  But it does depend heavily on the willingness of the couple themselves to be open to finding solutions. We are open with clients about the financial implications of choosing one option instead of another but an important part of being a mediator is not trying to impose your own views onto a client. Obviously, a successful mediation means that the end decisions have come from the couple themselves rather than a third party. If they grasp that and can find a way to work towards it, it will probably mean they will feel better about the whole thing in years to come.”


Caron Barruw, pschotherapist London NW, counselling London NW, how to divorce amicably, online divorce advice, divorce London NW, phychotherapy and divorce,

Psychotherapist Caron Barruw explains why it can be challenging to use mediation when one of the couple is a true Narcissist:

“Narcissistic personality disorder is a personality disorder that does not suddenly appear but has been there all along and gets worse in situations like divorce. Usually it is impossible to mediate this as often there are irrational thoughts that are associated with the condition that works better with strict boundaries and guidelines. Each person has their own lawyer representing them and the other lawyer is very firm and in control. (Which can still take place out of court using Collaborative Law).

When people act out due to abandonment and rejection issues it is also difficult to mediate as they are feeling hurt and don’t want to settle things.  Many people act out feeling rejected by protecting themselves. In doing so they become self focused and act out anger as they really feel so vulnerable.”


Although it’s very easy to ‘give up’ on a narcissist and assume that an angry court battle is inevitable, sometimes working with a counsellor can help that ‘vulnerable’ person become more open to a less expensive way to divorce.  And although mediation might be a challenge, co-mediation might still be an option as that can offer clearer boundaries if those mediators are skilled in dealing with that level of power imbalance in the couple – perhaps with a trained therapist present during the sessions.  Even a narcissist doesn’t necessarily want to end up with a massive legal bill and court fees.

Samantha encourages divorcing clients who have assets that need splitting, pensions and properties, to work with a financial planner early on – not just near the end of the divorce to work out how to invest their settlement.  She is connected with a range of advisors and it is entirely up to her clients whether they choose to work with a financial planner or not, but among those local advisors is Mark Smale of CMP Financial, who is experienced in working with people who are going through divorce.


“Divorcees often ignore pensions and focus more  on the property – and forget to ensure they have something to support them in their retirement.” Warns Financial Planner Mark Smale.  “They also confuse the true value of a pension to be its current amount, rather than what it will pay out later.  If they are feeling bullied and their spouse is refusing to have a reasonable discussion about how to split the finances, then working with a financial planner can bring clarity and confidence and put them in a much better negotiating position if the divorce stays out of court. 

If it has to go before a judge, it will also ensure that the judge is better informed about the financial situation long-term if at least one of the divorcing couple has a proper financial plan in place.” (Financial Planner Mark Smale:



Samantha believes that all qualified financial planners: “..probably shed more light on the financial implications, in the years ahead, from those decisions divorcing couples make at quite an early stage in the process. It does help to focus minds when the true monetary position is spelt out in clear terms.  But it is important that all parties understand that they can only elaborate on the possible results from decisions the clients may make, and focus only on what is in the best interest of those clients.”

Samantha Jago is partner at RHW Solicitors, a member of Resolution, a past Vice President of Surrey Law Society, an advisor for the National Centre for Domestic Violence and a member of the Alternative Divorce Directory.

Trump’s War Speech Shows The Weakness Of Dispute On All Levels

Posted by on 7:24 am in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Divorce News | 0 comments

Trump’s War Speech Shows The Weakness Of Dispute On All Levels

With Trump blasting out his rhetoric to the UN threatening to destroy North Korea and undermining, completely, existing peaceful agreements on reducing arms proliferation with Iran – deliberately crushing opportunities to mediate and find healthier solutions – the parallels with a nasty divorce were inescapable.

But when you are dealing with a narcissistic opponent – as many divorcing couples are – how can peaceful solutions possibly work?



Look at it this way – were any of the seasoned diplomats at the UN thinking – “Oh great, now we have strong leadership and someone who will ultimately bring peace and prosperity and heal the wounds of this broken relationship and long-term feud with North Korea”? I suspect not. All they saw was political posturing, a simplistic world-view and a culture of fear.

All peace agreements are a struggle of blood, sweat, and tears.  Of thinking outside of the box and putting the ego away for a while, just for a moment, to get each incremental small agreement that leads to the final exhausted commitment. Just because it’s difficult, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Countless wars have ended not with a cry of victory – but with a peace treaty.  Many high-profile celebrities have bucked the trend and divorced peacefully, without dragging themselves or their children through lengthy litigation.  Even Madonna managed to have a ‘good divorce’ (reputably using a collaborative divorce approach).

Peace agreements – and divorce settlements – have been reached in the past by parties who it was hard to believe would ever agree on anything, ever. But the will to stop the suffering of others was stronger than the will to destroy.

This is where families with children have an advantage. We love our children. We may let our egos and our anger drive us to self-destruction in a fruitless court battle, but the children remind us that ultimately, we gain nothing if they suffer.

Now that doesn’t mean we lie down and be abused or agree to something that won’t leave us enough to eat, but we owe it to our families and ourselves to seek out the best ways to cut a deal, and avoid the Trumpean rhetoric and aggression that simply fuels the war, and does nothing to bring it to an end. The only way Trump can ‘win’ against North Korea is to build strong allies, collaborative relationships.

Perhaps Trump needs to spend some time observing the collaborative law process and mediation in action, and then just maybe, he might learn a thing or two about the power of peace, and the weakness of war.


Suzy Miller: Divorce Strategist

To have and to hold – insurance for married couples

Posted by on 8:44 pm in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Financial Divorce Advice, Useful articles Finance | 0 comments

To have and to hold – insurance for married couples

To have and to hold

Arranging insurance for married couples should arguably go hand in hand with saying “I do”.


Financial matters are perhaps not the first consideration when getting married. But it is vitally important to review current financial arrangements and establish new plans at the start of a significant new stage of life.

Perhaps the first and most obvious thing to consider is wedding insurance, given that even a simple ceremony and reception will cost many thousands of pounds – £25,090 on average, according to a recent survey.1

But once the honeymoon is over, the serious thinking needs to start, and this is the point at which couples will need financial advice.

At the simplest level, a couple might want to maximise their ISA allowance and other tax-efficient investments, perhaps by moving some assets from one spouse to the other, thus taking advantage of the fact that transfers to a spouse are exempt from Capital Gains Tax. They may also want to think about their pension beneficiaries, dividend income and property ownership; and they will of course want to update their Wills.

But there is another reason why marriage is a financial marker: it is a time when people first start sharing their lives – and their debt – with someone else. Consequently, it is an opportune moment to put some protection in place.

Life insurance should be a high-priority consideration, as it can provide the security that money is available to meet mortgage and other financial commitments should one partner die. Similarly, a ‘joint-life second death’ whole-of-life policy could help settle Inheritance Tax liabilities when both individuals have passed away.

Life cover should be put in place even by those who do not consider themselves to be wealthy – and it is relatively straightforward to arrange. However, not everyone will be able to secure cover through the standard market.

“Increasingly, people are getting married when they are older or indeed getting married for a second or third time,” says Torquil McLusky, managing director at Pulse Insurance, a specialist insurer.

“An older couple may have significantly more complex investment needs; older people may also have health problems or age-related issues which mean that the standard insurance market is not able to help. This is where specialist providers that offer access to the Lloyd’s market can sometimes be needed,” he says.

“Specialist insurers can provide cover for people with pre-existing conditions and can also offer cover for older couples who may suddenly have mortgage commitments or other financial obligations at a stage of their lives when they had been expecting to be thinking more about taking it easy, rather than carrying on working.”


Till death us do part?

We all hope that marriage will last forever, but the fact is that more than 40% of marriages now end in divorce2. Inevitably, financial plans made as a married couple may not survive a divorce – especially if they no longer make financial sense.

“Unfortunately, divorce is not something that we can insure against,” says McLusky. “The best we can probably do is a prenuptial agreement, which, although not yet recognised in statute, the UK courts will at least take into consideration when making a settlement.”

Many couples will have joint life insurance policies in place, and often the premium is paid by just one of the parties. If that spouse stops paying or cancels the policy, then the other partner could be left without life insurance.

If a partner has custody of the children, it is often prudent to maintain a life insurance policy on their ex-spouse with a benefit amount high enough to replace maintenance income.

Sadly, lots of break-ups become bitter or lengthy because couples can’t agree how to split the finances or continue paying insurance premiums. In those cases, individuals will need some professional financial and legal advice.

“The bottom line is that divorce means thinking again as far as financial planning is concerned,” adds McLusky.


The value of an investment with St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds selected and the value may fall as well as rise. You may get back less than the amount invested.

The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time and are generally dependent on individual circumstances.

Will writing involves the referral to a service that is separate and distinct to those offered by St. James’s Place. Wills are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

1, accessed 30 May 2017
Office for National Statistics, November 2015


Nigel Rowland Divorce Financial Advice Sussex



I provide a lifestyle financial planning service and wealth management advice to clients both within the City of London, and more widely throughout the South East of England. My office is based in Clapham Village near Worthing in West Sussex.


I have always worked within the financial services industry. My career started with eight years in domestic banking, followed by two years as an area building society manager, then eight years as a life office consultant dealing with professional advisers (financial services, tax and legal) specialising in pensions and investment planning. As a consequence, I have now established many working relationships with individuals within this sector due, in part; to the insight and understanding that I have for their specific financial requirements – whether these be personal or corporate.


I am committed to ensuring that my industry knowledge remains relevant and current by placing strong emphasis on my personal development towards Chartered Financial Planner status. This, along with the pride and dedication that I place on developing solid personal relationships with my clients, ensures that I am able to offer a rounded, professional and principled service. Outside of my business, I am married to Vanessa and have two grown up children. I am a keen 5-a-side footballer and have a passion for fast cars. The local community is also important to me and I am the Responsible Financial Officer for Clapham Parish Council.


Call me now to book a time for an initial no-obligation meeting, on 07770 770627 / 01903 871699 

or email me on



The Partner Practice represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the group’s website at The ‘St. James’s Place Partnership’ and the title ‘Partner Practice’ are marketing terms used to describe St. James’s Place representatives.




The Big Mistakes Men Make When Divorcing

Posted by on 10:32 am in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Divorce and Family Mediation, Useful articles Finance, Useful articles Law | 0 comments

The Big Mistakes Men Make When Divorcing

What are the key classic errors men often make and how to avoid them

Sussex-based family mediator Julia Warnes offers some guidance for men when divorcing:

“I would say the most common mistake is often not obtaining advice at the earliest opportunity and often waiting until the process can be thrust upon them. I am aware that sometimes they might not want to be the bad guy and make the decision that it is the end of the relationship, rather waiting for the decision to be made for them. Or if they have decided to end the relationship, being motivated in their decisions by guilt.”

The implications of these common errors for their families, themselves, and their work life, can be severe. Julia sees that bullying is not a useful tactic and that men can be much ‘smarter’ about how they manage their divorce. “A real challenge arises when we find ourselves being reactive rather than proactive. This can be a key sign that a divorcing person is not in control of the situation and can lead to panicked decision-making. Being reactive can lead people feeling that they are out of control, confused and stressed, and this can impact on all areas of their lives negatively at a time which is already extremely difficult.

This doesn’t mean they should be proactively pushing or creating disputes – but instead, proactively identifying the best way for families to resolve any issues that have arisen and being able to fully engage and participate in the process of their choosing.”

Julia is well-placed to help those seeking information early to avoid these common mistakes, and to ensure their cases can be presented in the most effective way. Often it is simply things that they could to do avoid going down the wrong road, because on a journey you need a map.

Having a clear view of exactly what you want to achieve and how can save time, stress and cost, and Julia provides that in her role representing both parties as an impartial mediator.

“It’s vital for divorcing men to get advice and information about all of the options available to them, and don’t leave this until the last moment – or it is likely to limit their options. The family legal system is certainly not a case where one size fits all. Collaboration, round table meetings, mediation, arbitration and even potentially considering court proceedings all offer pros and cons which will apply to everyone’s circumstances differently.”



Mediation: Offering More Solutions

My work as a mediator allows more solutions to be available and ways to avoid going down the wrong roads leading to a combative divorce. Helpfully, I found that the mediation training and process focusses me on the wide range of implications of what is going on for parties. The legal matter at hand can often be quite a narrow issue, but in situations involving family disputes and separations we know that there is a lot more going on.

Mediation provides a framework not only where parties can explore and be supported to reach their own agreements about these legal matters, but also one where they are supported in an environment to be able to communicate effectively with their former partner.

We offer initial free options meetings which are a chance for us to take brief information and identify the issues for a client. We can then provide information about the various methods of dispute resolution available and consider the best options to suit the client.”


Money can often be at the root of fear-based behaviour – so what could financial experts do to support those divorcing men more, if they were involved earlier in the process – rather than just being brought in to split pensions?

“Anyone who seeks advice and mentions difficulties in a relationship, or who is considering or is recently separated could be really well supported by some early financial advice, and for financial advisors to ensure that there is appropriate legal advice or information available too.”



Financial Advice When Divorcing: Early Intervention

Julia believes in supporting her client’s needs by giving them access early on to relevant professionals who can help them. Financial Planners offer expertise that is very valuable to people navigating divorce. Julia is connected to a wide range of financial experts and it is entirely up to her clients, whether or not they make use of those additional services available to them – but having a no-obligation conversation with a few financial planners to see how they can offer support, is a good thing to do.

One of the many financial professionals in Sussex who support divorcing couples with their financial planning – Nigel Rowland of Rowland Financial Planning – believes that being flexible is key, as no divorce is the same as another.


Nigel Rowland Divorce Financial Advice Sussex

“In our experience, no two clients are the same and we therefore take time to ensure that we understand their personal as well as any business objectives, and deliver solutions that are specific and relevant. Many divorcing people are unaware they can be held jointly responsible for all debts – even those in their partner’s name.”

Nigel Rowland

Rowland Financial Planning


“Another issue for many men around divorce”, Nigel explains, “is not allowing enough time to value a business they may own, or to strategise how to not let the business become a victim of the divorce. This is why getting financial guidance as well as legal is crucial when divorcing.”


Julia actively connects with a wide range of potential referrers like Nigel, who can benefit her clients: “We are fortunate that there is a great deal of collaborative and networking between professionals, and this is increasing, whereas traditionally we all tended to work quite isolated from one another. Parties will find the process to be a more supportive one where they have a network of professionals who are able to assist them through this process.

Often, in these situations parties will be reluctant to involve a number of different professionals due to the potential cost, but in the longer term this can save your client money, as all matters are dealt with together and there aren’t unforeseen issues which can arise later. Overall, if more people experiencing family dispute accessed financial and legal advice at an earlier stage of their divorce – before it all ‘gets nasty’ – then the benefits to them and to their families as a whole would be considerable. I really think that regardless of gender, role, whatever, many parties going through this process would benefit from early advice to give them their options, and put them on the right track before the waters become too muddied with allegations and hostility.”



Julia Warnes is a Family Mediator at Sussex Peaceful Solutions. As a Mediator, she predominantly advises couples who are separating or considering separation, cohabitants, spouses and civil partners.

Family Mediation at Sussex Peaceful Solutions
















How To Get your Life Back On Track After Divorce – Relationship & Dating Coach Karen Marshall

Posted by on 7:19 am in Coaching support through divorce, Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Divorce and Dating, Useful articles Wellbeing, wellbeing and coaching | 0 comments

How To Get your Life Back On Track After Divorce – Relationship & Dating Coach Karen Marshall

Are you training for a sprint or marathon?



When you are separating, going through a divorce or rebuilding your life again, you may be thinking, love will never happen again, or you really don’t want another relationship right now, because of the pain, heartache, and challenges you are working through.  If you have children, their welfare will be something else on your mind.  Let’s face it – splitting up is never going to be fun – and it may have you living one day at a time. And that’s all before you start getting into the protracted pain of legal proceedings and solicitors bills.



If you find yourself in your 40’s, 50’s or over, if you’re taking time out to heal your heart and get your head straight, finding love again could be far away from your thoughts.  You could feel like you’re running a long marathon without any finish line in sight.  Your vision ahead is only on the road right now. 

When you are hurt and cut yourself, you need time to heal any wound.  It is the same with your heart.  As your wound or heart takes time to heal, learn to love yourself again, how you can improve your inner happiness, and the skills to bounce back so much more quickly if you are ready to change your experience of life.


dating after divorce



If you value your self-worth and self-development, you’ve possibly had some counselling to support you emotionally, to help you feel happier and more confident, so it’s important to take the first step getting to know YOU again and what makes you tick.

With the right self-development support, you will transform your thinking and future choices.

If you want to be empowered to get YOU back on track, with an expert helping hand by your side, now is the perfect time to make the right life choices ahead if you’re ready to get out there and start socialising again.

As you rebuild your life independently being single once more, I cannot stress enough, you need to be guided in the right direction.  You will otherwise get lost in the jungle of life or keep falling into the same negative holes on your road ahead.  When you learn new skills now, you will quickly navigate around the holes, instead of falling again and again or staying stuck emotionally or mentally. 

Sometimes in life we meet people we are not expecting, and it can happen when are you feeling lonely or vulnerable.  If you only focusing on your children, you could possibly waste the next 1, 2 or 5 years of your life waiting to feel ready. If you don’t take different steps NOW you will continue to carry your negative experience of divorce around with you now and into your future that will impact every area of your life.



Be warned! If you are looking for sexual chemistry to have fun right now, or choose to be single, that is okay. It’s all part of your journey.  This is also a vulnerable time you could attract someone and get pulled into a relationship that is unhealthy, or not right for you.    

If you do, the chances are you are likely to repeat the same relationship mistakes, or sabotage your dating experience or any new potential relationship (you might not even be aware of doing this). 



Taking responsibility for your own happiness, is the foundation and secret to creating your happier and more fulfilling life.  If you’re vulnerable, you might otherwise pin your hopes and dreams on someone else to make you happy, who will undoubtedly disappoint you because they will make mistakes. You will get hurt again.

You don’t even have to be thinking about dating or meeting someone new to benefit from the skills you will learn on the 2 Day Self-Transformation Coaching Programme. You will accelerate your healing journey, feel happier and more confident. You will discover valuable insight, knowledge and the right coaching skills to help you face and deal with your challenges from a new perspective.

If you don’t want to repeat the same mistakes, you need to start doing something now.  Spend time getting to know YOU again.  There are no visible signs of the wounds you carry inside, so give yourself time and seek help from the right expert who will guide you in the right direction to help you bounce back more quickly when another challenge arises.

Imagine, if you could invest 2 days of your life to get your life back on track so much faster.  What would 2 days be worth to you if you transformed your approach? You will also help to positively educate your children with your new perspective and knowledge. You are also likely to approach your ex-partner differently. 



To run a marathon, if you want to prepare properly, you will need to start training, think about your nutrition, start running and set some training goals before you start.  

It’s the same approach you need to take in your life to run your race. It’s important to nourish your mind, to learn new strategies and techniques and start practicing your new skills.  It will take time and training if you want a more rewarding and happier life.  When you see the finish line, your life will change in an unimaginable way if you are ready to achieve the life and happiness you truly deserve.

You will also learn how to RECOGNISE someone RIGHT for you and how to BUILD and nurture a more REWARDING, happier, and loving relationship THAT does WORK before one arrives.

Do you prefer to sprint? Or will you train for your marathon, if you knew you could find greater happiness and a more rewarding life and relationship that does work?  BE WARNED, sprints can end very quickly. They can happen in short bursts and fizzle out as quickly as they start.  The same applies with men or women you are likely to start dating.  They can fizzle out just as fast without the right training.  You could continue running an endless marathon.

Dr Wayne Dyer the famous American philosopher said: “When you change the things you look at the things you look at change”.   So, when you decide to change your perspective your life experience will change too.

What would it mean to you, if you knew the training you completed, supported you through your divorce, in your relationship with your ex-partner, and would help you to feel better about yourself and how to create a healthier and more rewarding life and relationship moving forward?  Investing only 2 days of your life will positively accelerate your life now in the right direction…


Take the next step…..

Why not contact me, for a FREE 30 minute no obligation Introduction Call (via Skype or over the phone) to discover if the 2 Day Coaching Programme is right for you.


Relationship & Dating Transformation Coach Karen Marshall

Ways To Survive The Summer Holidays When You Are A Separated Family – Part Two

Posted by on 6:10 pm in Collaborative Divorce, Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Parenting Advice, Useful articles Law, Useful articles Wellbeing | 0 comments

Ways To Survive The Summer Holidays When You Are A Separated Family – Part Two


The first few months and years after separation require adjustments, but when couples move on, parents enter into new relationships.  This can mean that whereas one couple were involved before with the co-parenting, now step-parents and more become involved. Blended families bring their own challenges – and not forgetting the important role of grandparents, who may also need to be included.


Possible solutions:


  • Plan as early as possible. Work out a Parenting Plan as to who is to care for the children and when.


  • What is reasonable?
    • Very young children newborns rarely stay away from mums and;
    • Older children often share time between each parent.


  • Strict schedules? These often don’t work. We all need flexibility for life’s opportunities and challenges:
    • Unexpected birthday parties
    • Offer of weekend away with best friend etc
    • Illness
    • Weather


  • How to make the plan
    • Talk to each other
    • Listen, listen and listen again
    • Listen to the children’s needs – they want more say as they become older
    • Try to coordinate holidays so that they don’t overlap or children spring from one to another
    • Who will pay for holiday camps?


  • How to help the children
    1. Encourage
    2. Don’t criticise the other parent
    3. Don’t make them a go-between
    4. Try to agree on boundaries – timings bed times for younger children etc
    5. Realise that whilst you may be missing your child when they are away, that you will also have your time with them to enjoy.


So what if you can’t agree who your children are to live with, and how they will spend their time?


Sorting out parenting plans on separation is a very wise step.  And it’s never too late to create one.


NB you don’t need a court order for children. Court orders are only necessary if parents can’t agree, and should be a last resort.

How to achieve resolution?

  1. Kitchen Table discussion
  2. Negotiations between solicitors
  3. Mediation
  4. Collaborative process using Collaboratively Trained Lawyers
  5. Court (if all else fails)

My preferred approach would be the Collaborative approach. I am one of 14 Collaboratively Trained Family Lawyers in Leicestershire & Rutland.

What is the Collaborative approach?

  1. Participation agreement that states neither will issue proceedings
  2. Four-way meetings
  3. Anchor statement

What are the advantages of the Collaborative approach?

  1. Control
  2. Cost effective – it’s a long term investment
  3. No letters (or having to pay for a solicitor to send them!)
  4. You work together
  5. Your relationship may improve
  6. Creativity in finding solutions
  7. Process is flexible

What is required?

  1. The couple being open and honest and want the process to work
  2. You will see the benefits of compromise. Genuine desire to reach a settlement
  3. Put aside a partisan view
  4. Specially trained lawyers to facilitate


How would the Collaborative process help separated parents?


It can help with agreeing on finances – but when it comes to children, it can also help parents to agree on a Parenting Plan.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan can include:

  1. What parenting decisions do we need to consult on?
  2. What we don’t need to consult on?
  3. How will we behave towards each other in front of the children?
  4. How will we share information?
  5. Will we have regular meetings to discuss?
  6. How will we involve the children in decision making?
  7. When can the children call or communicate with each parent?
  8. Emergencies – what to do?
  9. How will we help children stay in contact with friends and relatives from the other side of the family?
  10. How will we introduce new partners?
  11. What boundaries do we need to agree on – eg. homework and bedtime.
  12. How to work together on big decisions.

You need to decide if you can

  1. Listen to each other
  2. Listen to your child’s needs
  3. Negotiate equally

For parents that can’t agree, then the courts will often recommend attendance on a Separated Parents Information Programme.


Having met James Belderbos for the first time I found him to be professional, knowledgeable and also very understanding to the sensitive situation with regards to my ex wife and the current situation.”
Throughout the whole process James Belderbos always gave sound advice and was always very approachable handling my calls personally which meant a great deal to me.
I would without doubt recommend James Belderbos to anyone requiring a Family Law Professional.”  Mr D, Leicestershire

BBC Radio Leicester Interview with Collaborative Practitioner and Family Lawyer James Belderbos



Call us for a no-obligation conversation to discuss your needs:

Rearsby: 01664 498 999
Oakham: 01572  490 660

Or email


You can also book a Fixed-Fee Consultation

if you’re ready to get started:

 Click here to book your fixed-fee consultation…. 


Integrating Families Can Be Tough

Posted by on 9:10 am in Divorce & Starting Over TV, Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Parenting Advice, Shared Stories, Short Films | 0 comments

Integrating Families Can Be Tough

Nigel shares how difficult it can be to integrate families post-divorce.  Sometimes the ‘new wife’ can be a powerful force for peace!

Demi Moore & Bruce Willis who are masters of managing the ‘blended family’.   Gwyneth Paltrow & Chris Martin also stayed friends through their “conscious uncoupling.”  Or you may have heard of Ben Affleck’s divorce where the couple agreed to have separate homes on the same property so their three children can be near both parents.  How would it be to have a divorce like Melanie Griffith & Antonio Banderas who are quoted as divorcing:  “in a loving and friendly manner honoring and respecting each other”?

But the reality is that sometimes, one of the parents makes not just the divorce, but having a ‘blended family’ ongoing after the divorce, very challenging.  So it can come down to the ‘step-parent’ to be the one to help make the family work in its new form…..



Ways To Survive The Summer Holidays When You Are A Separated Family – Part One

Posted by on 8:46 am in Collaborative Divorce, Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Useful articles Law, Useful articles Wellbeing | 0 comments

Ways To Survive The Summer Holidays When You Are A Separated Family – Part One

BBC Radio Leicester Interview with Collaborative Practitioner and Family Lawyer James Belderbos



Summer – and the school summer holidays in particular – can bring stress to many families. We are familiar with the pressures that Christmas can bring with families thrown together over the festive period, but the summer holidays can also create stress and opportunities for conflict.

Sadly, like Christmas, the aftermath of a family holiday can be too much to bear for some couples, who then consider separation.

All parents, and those of us who remember our childhood holidays, will recall crunch points. Holidays are wonderful – but they can bring specific pressures to bear on family life:

  1. Disrupted routine – we all like routine and can get annoyed when things get changed
  2. Sleepless hot nights – tiredness can cause short fuses
  3. Expense – cost of holidays
  4. Where to go?
  5. Relatives joining the family holiday
  6. Flights / airports / packing the car


Many like to think of long hot summer holidays as carefree days – but the reality is that carefree holidays can take a lot of planning, time and effort.

The school holidays can bring other pressures, such as: who is to look after the children, especially where both mum and dad are working?  Even greater pressures come to bear when families are separated. It can be a particularly challenging time for divorced and separated parents.

Children really look forward to summer at the end of a long hard year.  Not surprisingly, they want to go on holiday, have days out and to have fun.


Possible challenges to be aware of:

  1. Where a child normally simply spends just a weekend away from a primary carer – will the other parent have to negotiate more than two nights away?
  2. When will the holiday be? Clashing dates?
  3. Younger children may spend two weeks with a non-resident parent whereas older children may share time between both parents. Children’s needs change.
  4. Those who co-parent well may not have a strict schedule as they may value flexibility, allowing for unexpected opportunities.  But sometimes planning ahead means setting dates in stone.
  5. How the children can contact the other parent when away – mobile phones, email etc?
  6. Who will organise and pay for summer camps?


This means that co-parenting skills – which were under pressure before separation – are put under greater strain during the holidays.


How can Collaborative Lawyers help?


I am one of 14 Collaboratively Trained Family Lawyers in Leicestershire & Rutland.  The Collaborative Process allows a couple to sit down, each with their own specially-trained Collaborative Lawyer, and find solutions in an amicable way.


It can help with agreeing on finances – but when it comes to children, it can also help parents to agree on a Parenting Plan – which can include how the parents have agreed to manage the Summer holidays!


Not only was James extremely attentive to accuracy and detail, he showed compassion and kindness (a trait not often associated with lawyers!) and steered me towards reaching a satisfactory result with my divorce.”  Nicole Brent, Nottinghamshire


Call us for a no-obligation conversation to discuss your needs:

Rearsby: 01664 498 999
Oakham: 01572  490 660

Or email


You can also book a Fixed-Fee Consultation

if you’re ready to get started:

 Click here to book your fixed-fee consultation…. 


Why Healing And Hypnotherapy Can Help With Divorce Stress

Posted by on 7:22 am in Coaching support through divorce, Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Useful articles Wellbeing | 0 comments

Why Healing And Hypnotherapy Can Help With Divorce Stress


What are the symptoms that can affect people who are going through a divorce?

Life itself is stressful enough without the added stress caused by marital breakdown. Common symptoms that I witness as a life coach and hypnotherapist often supporting people through their divorce stress, are worry and anxiety about the future (financially and emotionally) which often leads to erratic sleep patterns. When sleep is lacking it often leads to irritability, frustration, lack of energy and problems with concentration. This can then result in being susceptible to the symptoms of anxiety and low mood.

Poor sleep and bad eating and drinking habits can form a cycle that can be hard to break.

Anger, jealousy and bitterness towards the ex can and do exacerbate the situation – and these states of high emotional arousal fuel erratic behaviour possibly resulting in high blood pressure.

Unfortunately this toxic mix of negative emotions and lack of energy result in poor decision making and a loss of confidence and low self-esteem.

Apart from not being able to function properly at work or as a parent, the stressed divorcing person may suffer longer-term physical and mental health risks.

When experiencing a lack of sleep and high levels of emotional arousal the rational part of the brain is hijacked by the emotional part, which adversely affects our ability to make decisions, to solve problems and to think logically.

The emotional part of the brain tends to operate in black and white which can result in a highly anxious person resorting to fight or flight behaviour, or a depressed person resorting to suicide as the only option.

The University of California, Riverside conducted a study examining marital status and suicide and found that the risk of suicide among divorced men was over twice as likely as that of married men.

The longer term physical health risks are hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, heart disease and digestive disorders. It has also been said that emotional trauma can and often does result in cancer. Anxiety and depression are the most likely long-term mental health risks.

So what can people experiencing the stress of a nasty divorce do to mitigate these potential side-effects for their divorce?

And how can hypnotherapy change their mindset as well as their stress levels?


What you can do to help mitigate the

stress symptoms of divorce?


However difficult your life has become you need to prioritise your own physical and mental well-being. This means eating healthy nutritious foods and exercising regularly. In addition, you need to consider your emotional needs such as the need for security, attention, autonomy and control, meaning & purpose, emotional connection, competency, status and friendship etc.

If your emotional needs are not being met you are more likely to develop unhealthy coping strategies such as drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, smoking cigarettes, comfort eating and recreational drugs.

Hypnosis is sometimes described as a ‘trance state’ (as you become inwardly absorbed) which can be induced in many different ways. You could drift into a trance whilst reading a book or watching a film. It could also be induced by a professional hypnotherapist using his or her voice and hypnotic language to help you into a deeply relaxed state.

A depressed state could also be described as trance state but a negative trance state as the person becomes absorbed in how bad they feel.

A hypnotic trance induced by a qualified therapist can lift you out of a negative trance state and helps you to create a positive state of deep relaxation which activates the solution-focussed part of the brain.

The top 3 things that a divorcing person should do to keep them psychologically strong:


  • Get quality sleep without using sleeping pills if at all possible. Learning how to utilise self-hypnosis is a natural alternative.


  • Ensure, as far as practically possible, that your emotional needs are being met. A professional life coach or therapist can help to keep you focussed on this.


  • Do more and think less. Avoid paralysis by analysis. Maintain an active lifestyle for both physical and mental well-being.


hypnotherapist andrew spence Brighton Sussex divorce de-stress


Free initial 30 min assessment

Call to book on 01273 509793

or email:




Why a Divorcee needs to spend time with a Divorce Financial Planner

Posted by on 9:50 am in Divorce & Starting Over TV, Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Financial Divorce Advice, Useful articles Finance | 0 comments

Why a Divorcee needs to spend time with a Divorce Financial Planner


As a Chartered Financial Planner, I often help women who are dealing with divorce, and in this particular case, I helped a woman who wanted to complete a divorce in an amicable fashion – but was also worried about her retirement in years to come. Would she have enough money to live off and maintain her quality of life? And how would working with me be useful to her?  What exactly is the role of a divorce Financial Planner?

At first, the lady concerned (let’s call her “Andrea”) didn’t really understand why she would need the services of a financial planner. What she did know was, that she wanted to keep her divorce peaceful, and that despite earning a six-figure salary in London, she was disillusioned with her high-pressure career and wanted a better work/life balance. At 54, Andrea and her husband had managed to accumulate savings, investments and pensions over the years and had also repaid their mortgage.

However, she was unsure about her financial capacity to change her life so dramatically, especially as she was approaching retirement age. She was worried about both her immediate financial position and the effect these changes would have on her short and long-term financial position.

She had never worked with a financial adviser before and was unsure how I was going to assist her during such a turbulent time in her life. But I had been recommended to her by a knowing friend, who understood that I was exactly the person Andrea needed to be talking with right now.

I am one of only a few UK IFAs to be qualified not only as a Chartered Financial Planner, but also as a Certified Financial Planner & a Registered Life Planner as well. Both Chartered and Certified are well-known qualifications held by a number of UK advisers. But the Registered Life Planner qualification is less commonly found in the profession.  I am also experienced in providing support as a divorce Financial Planner – helping clients navigate some of the financial aspects of divorce.

The Registered Life Planner course is aimed at questioning techniques and listening skills to actually understand whether it is retiring at 65 that is their actual goal, or whether the client is wanting to achieve something different but doesn’t yet know it – it might be a career change.

It was vital that I really understood Andrea’s aspirations and wider life-goals – way beyond her divorce situation, before we even began talking about financials. We therefore took our time to discuss her background, her vision for her future, her expectations, priorities and money handling experience. There is no point in my clients getting to retirement age for them to realise they wasted 20 years of their life in a job they hated and find out they’re worn out, tired and don’t have the drive anymore.

Over the course of a few months I managed to help Andrea move from a state of flux to a life and financial position that had greater clarity, focus, structure, but flexibility too. Andrea was even able to resign from employment because she was confident with what the future holds for her. That’s the magic of a detailed and well-constructed financial plan.

Now she sees her son much more, enjoys a less stressful life and has more than enough income to satisfy her simpler needs. I implemented a number of recommendations for Andrea that have improved her position and matched her needs.

I would encourage anyone in their fifties who has not yet made a detailed financial plan with the help of a financial planner, to think seriously about doing so. Especially if they are going through a major life shift like divorce, where the expertise of a divorce financial planner can have a very positive impact on their situation. These life events can act as a catalyst for positive change – if you have the right experts to guide you.

I offer a financial health check that is free of charge.  This meeting is about getting to know each other to see whether we can work together and it is your chance to ask questions and find out how I can help to improve your situation.


Contact me now on 07563529918

to arrange a time to talk or email


Sam Whybrow CFPTM Chartered MCSI



Why you need a mortgage expert sooner than you think when you’re getting divorced – by Carl Mountain

Posted by on 10:08 am in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Financial Divorce Advice, Useful articles Finance | 0 comments

Why you need a mortgage expert sooner than you think when you’re getting divorced – by Carl Mountain


“I’m going to my mother’s!” (and slamming the door) doesn’t let you off the hook if the marital home has a mortgage on it and you decide to get a divorce. If your name is on the mortgage, you are as liable as your spouse for the payments. So getting divorce financial advice early on is a good idea.

What’s yours is his and what’s his, is yours – including debts and mortgages. And if the payments are not made, your credit history will be damaged.

So getting to a place of financial independence as soon as possible – even before the divorce is completed – is vital. It’s never too early to sit down with a financial planner to look at how to achieve that independence in the longer term – and also to deal with mortgage and property issues in the short term.

Your financial advisor will suggest that you contact your mortgage company and if the situation is complex (spouse refusing to pay the mortgage but has control of the purse-strings) then the mortgage company may offer a payment holiday – which can buy you valuable time. Getting divorce financial advice at an early stage is a very good idea.

What are my mortgage and financial options?

If your name is not on the deeds, then you can register your matrimonial rights through the Land Registry to stop your partner selling against your wishes. Especially if the house was bought after you were married.

When it comes to divorce in the UK, the matrimonial home is considered a joint asset and you cannot be forced to leave by your partner. Don’t let them bully you into thinking they can. This is why getting some initial legal advice is a good idea.

Providing your house is easy to sell, just both moving out and selling up can seem the simplest option, and may allow a clean break divorce settlement to become a realistic solution. However, if your kids are settled in the local school, and you are not going to be able to buy a big enough house for the family with the proposed divorce settlement, then selling up may not be the best option.

A mortgage expert can advise on how likely the house is to sell and for what price (because they know the market intimately), they can also provide realistic information on what a new property mortgage will cost you in real terms, and whether you can even get a mortgage.

Often non-working wives think they can buy a new place and get a mortgage unaware that mortgage companies prefer people with a career and a strong past record of payments – which may be true for their spouse, but not for the parent who has been home for 10 years bringing up the kids.

If you stay in the property post-divorce, then the mortgage company may not want to add your name to the mortgage if you haven’t got the income to support that, so you can end up spending years in a house that is owned by your Ex – and possibly then have to sell it when the youngest child leaves school in order to pay a portion of the equity to your Ex as part of an earlier divorce settlement agreement. But will that leave you enough to buy a flat, never mind a house?


Divorce Financial Advice

So to really look at all the options, and how to avoid unnecessary tax implications, it’s vital to work with a financial planner. Lawyers are not trained to look into the future and work out whether you will have enough money to live off when you are 65. Financial Planners are trained to do that. And mortgage expertise will be an important element of making those calculations.

For mortgage and divorce financial advice, have a no-obligation chat with Carl Mountain: Click here to see more about how he can help….

carl mountain mortgages financial advice divorce Surrey KT Kingston London

Find me on LinkedIn | Carl Mountain


Mobile: 07800 768118

2plan wealth management carl mountain mortgages financial advice divorce Surrey


Divorce With Lawyers Who Talk To Each Other: The Collaborative Divorce Process

Posted by on 6:44 am in Collaborative Divorce, Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Financial Divorce Advice, Legal Articles: Divorce, Useful articles Finance, Useful articles Law | 0 comments

Divorce With Lawyers Who Talk To Each Other: The Collaborative Divorce Process

According to the Mirror, lawyers estimate that the average cost of a UK divorce is – in real terms – £70,243 and rising – with the average person losing out on £4,686 of their salary, with an added £5,089 on finding alternative accommodation, £8,926 in legal fees and £51,543 in paying off debt and sharing assets.
Of course, if the divorce starts to get ‘out of hand’ – then legal fees can begin to soar. I spoke recently with a mother who has had to borrow over £80,000 from her family to pay for legal fees to fight court battles against her husband over child custody over the last two years, and they are still no closer to actually getting a divorce. She had originally asked to use mediation – but her husband was not prepared to co-operate. For some people, having a lawyer by their side is important to them – but they CAN have a lawyer by their side, and yet avoid going to court at all.
James Belderbos of Bird Belderbos & Mee Solicitors, practices as a family solicitor and Collaborative Practitioner in Leicestershire and the surrounding areas. He knows something, that a vast majority of the general public are still unaware of: that Collaborative Practice can be a revolutionary way to get an intelligent divorce.

james belderbos collaborative-divorce-lawyer-leicestershire-le/“You may feel that using any form of dispute resolution (alternatives to the traditional route of going to court) – which is essentially talking issues through in a reasonable way and seeking out mutually beneficial long term solutions – is somehow ‘weak’. I believe that by having a solicitor by your side during negotiations, gives you a greater sense of confidence.
It is never ‘weak’ to use more peaceful ways to divorce, and which ultimately saves money, time, stress – and reduces harmful side-effects on the children. Reducing stress enables you to focus on the important things in life and you to perform better. Compromise is not a ‘dirty word’ – it’s the route to staying in control of the decision-making process, instead of handing it over to a judge who knows little about your family.
Yes, you may decide to have less of the property value or savings and give that to your spouse instead – but you’ll only be agreeing to do that if what you are getting in return is more valuable to you. Such as, by way of example the assurance that the money is going towards university fees for your children. Ultimately, you decide.
The benefits go beyond the financial aspects and can facilitate a more harmonious relationship for years to come which is especially important where children are concerned.”

When it comes to the financial aspects of divorce – especially if they are complex – this is where Collaborative Practice can really come into it’s own.

Contrary to popular misconception, lawyers are not highly trained financial experts. But in the Collaborative process, financial planners (who ARE highly trained financial experts) can not only work with clients as a couple or 1-1 prior to settlement negotiations, but as Chartered Financial Planner Charlie Reading explains, they can also collaborate with the family lawyers and be part of the round-table discussions with clients and lawyers.

charlie-reading-cost-of-divorce“I can paint a picture of a family’s future using real data – actual costings based on their everyday needs and forecasting exactly what they will need in the future. Imagine beginning your divorce settlement discussion and being confident that you will have enough money to live off when you are in your old age, by making certain adjustments post-divorce to the way you structure your finances.
Imagine how much more amicable your discussions will be if you don’t have that fear of ‘losing it all’, but can demonstrate to your spouse exactly what you need for the future and why. It actually helps build trust and you’ll become less afraid of the financial implications; instead, you’ll feel excited about the financial independence you will gain by having a proper strategy in place. Obviously, people may not always agree on which strategy is best for them, but that’s when working with skilled Collaborative Practitioners in round-table discussions comes into its own. 
If you go to court, the judge isn’t a financial planner. Judges will tend to focus on getting a split that seems fair based on the information they have presented. Often that information is based on figures pulled out of the air – not proper projections. The most empowering thing for me as a Chartered Financial Planner, is to be able to help my clients ‘see into the future’, and help them to be reassured and excited about it.
Financial planning isn’t just about reducing your outgoings now to have enough money to live off later; it’s about intelligent investing and management of that money – a pension pot or sale of a property for example – so that money works hard for you and provides the lifestyle and future financial security that will make you and your now extended family more content. Ultimately, this will mean you’re less likely to need to argue about money.”



Sitting round a table with your respective lawyers – both of them Collaboratively trained (this is important – conventional family law training is completely different from the Collaborative approach) – would seem a sensible option. Which is why it is so strange that even some family lawyers are murky about what Collaborative Practice actually is. In my experience, over 95% of the educated and worldly people I ask the question: “have you heard of Collaborative Law” – respond: “No. I haven’t.”

Singer/performer Madonna and her former husband director Guy Ritchie are considered to be the first celebrity couple who went public about using collaborative law.  In 2008, actor/comedian Robin Williams and his wife chose to use the collaborative divorce. Williams stated, “We will strive to be honest, cooperative and respectful as we work in this process to achieve the future well-being of our families.  We commit ourselves to the collaborative law process.” More recently, Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren reportedly used collaborative divorce. Perhaps it’s because this way of divorcing allows privacy (unlike the very public forum of a court-based divorce) – that we just don’t get to know about it. Or perhaps it’s because the media prefers to focus on the angry celebrity divorces instead?

James believes that Collaborative Practice should become much better known, and he would prefer to be using this methodology than having to represent clients in court, because the benefits to the family as a whole, especially the children, are indisputable.

“In a conventional divorce, I would be writing letters to my client’s spouse via their solicitor, instead of sitting opposite them and just sorting everything out alongside our clients. And instead of advising our clients not to talk to each other about details of the proposed settlement but to only communicate via legal means, we instead can suggest they work with a financial expert like Charlie Reading and then we’ll have some sensible strategies to discuss. It just makes so much sense.

“Some detractors say that Collaborative Law is expensive because you have to sit in a room with two lawyers and you may also want to include financial planners and family therapists, and clients don’t want to pay for that. But what they don’t realise is just how expensive getting embroiled in a court battle really is. You can spend over £20,000 on a particular issue and end up back where you started. Court time doesn’t fit around your schedule, the way Collaborative Practitioners can – and most of all, moving forwards it’s better to be able to resolve future family issues through discussion than battling it out in a legal system that can leave emotional as well as financial scars.”

Suzy Miller
Divorce Strategist

james belderbos collaborative-divorce-lawyer-leicestershire-le/
If you want to discover more about the benefits of Collaborative Practice, email or click here to book your fixed-fee consultation….
For a free financial exploration meeting with Charlie Reading, Call 01572 898060, Email or Click Here…

Dispute Resolution Survey Results

Posted by on 1:16 pm in behind the scenes, Divorce Advice, Divorce News, Statistics | 0 comments

Dispute Resolution Survey Results



I put some key questions to a group of international Dispute Resolution practitioners a few months ago – with the majority of respondents being from the UK – and here are the interim results. The size of the survey is not ‘statistically relevant’ (ie. not yet 100 participants) but it does give some thought provoking data and comments (all confidential regarding who has made them!)

The participants were nearly 80% Mediators, 68% Collaboratively trained, just over 16% were Arbitrators. 45.46% of the Mediators were also Solicitors.


Here are the results that I found of most interest:


Only 14.3% of Collaborative Practitioners didn’t agree with adapting the core training (ie. they were purists), but only 4.76% of the Collaborative practitioners practised exclusively DR – compared to 50% of the Mediators.

100% of the Mediators saw mediation as a good tool for helping with non-married couples splitting up, but only 75% thought mediation was good for creating co-habitation and prenup agreements.

By comparison, just over 83% of Collaborative practitioners and 62.5% of Arbitrators felt their disciplines were good for helping cohabiting couples to split, but a whopping 91.7% of Collaborative practitioners thought collab was good for prenups and cohabitation agreements (only 4.2% of Arbitrators).


“I believe that lawyers have a duty to help their clients select the form of dispute resolution which will work best for them and that the court process should be seen as a last resort. It is an unfortunate reality that lawyers make most money out of the court process and some are therefore keen to encourage their clients down that route.”


Interestingly, only 63.6% of Mediators thought their training made them better at dealing with clients as a solicitor (or overall if not a solicitor), compared to 85.7% of Collaborative practitioners.

Only 31.8% of Mediators agreed that the Law Society’s Family Mediation Accreditation was a good way to regulate the profession, and just over 18% said they did not do MIAMS and only worked with couples who had already decided to use mediation.


“I’m totally unclear what the Law society accreditation route adds to the profession when the FMC covers it.”


Only 63.6% of Mediators said they were aware that Arbitration can be used as a tool to resolve an issue in mediation, so that the mediation can then continue.


“I am a non-practicing solicitor and a professional family mediator. I have never had cause despite complicated cases to refer to arbitration“

“The latter (arbitration) needs great care. It is an easy “get out” and may taint the process if collab lawyers know they can hold onto it”

23.8% of Collaborative practitioners felt that the process was only viable for less than 50% of all separating couples (compared to 4.5% of Mediators). Collaborative practitioners felt that more training was needed to help those solicitors to be ‘more collaborative’ (47.6%) which echoes comments I’ve heard on many occasions about how some Collaborative practitioners are not always collaborative in the way they work, despite the ethos and training they’ve received.


“I believe that all forms of DR are underused because, whatever lip service is paid, family lawyers who face a very challenging market are fearful of losing their core work. There are of course many honourable exceptions.”


When it comes to getting dispute resolution clients, it was interesting that only 6.7% of respondents said they don’t have time to attract more DR clients – and over 26% said they would like to work more collaboratively with other professionals – but they didn’t have time to get to know them. Only 16% felt that their firms did not do enough to promote that aspect of their work. Over 61% use social media (not just LinkedIn) to promote their DR work, but under 13% use video. However, over 61% said that most couples in the UK – prior to a MIAMS – are not aware of family arbitration; over 87% said potential clients did not understand the basic principles of Collaborative Practice or had not heard of it at all; and 54.8% said that many couples still don’t understand what mediation is.

Over 66% said prospective clients just didn’t know enough about the benefits of DR, and 50% said that couples need to be better prepared and educated about DR so that the processes have more chance of working successfully.

Perhaps if education of the public become more of a priority in the marketing of family law services, that would be time well spent also regarding bringing in new clients (as a byproduct)?

Although 40% thought clients would better manage their DR experience if they had more financial advice, and over 53% thought more emotional support would be beneficial, only 36.7% thought that parenting support would make the DR process have more chance of working successfully – which I found interesting. Isn’t focusing on the role as parents a powerful tool in helping dispute resolution to feel truly relevant to parents?


Many thanks to those who participated – feel free to share your comments below.

If you would like to explore how to gain more dispute resolution clients, simply complete the confidential questionnaire below for a complimentary assessment:

Create your own user feedback survey



Collaborative Lawyers and High Profile Divorce

Posted by on 6:48 pm in Collaborative Divorce, Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Divorce Counselling, Useful articles Law, Useful articles Wellbeing | 0 comments

Collaborative Lawyers and High Profile Divorce

I hear a lot of about collaborative lawyers and the good work they do helping couples navigate the complex process of separation and divorce.
Perhaps the collaborative model would be best for Brexit – legal advice to hand, yet ultimately, collaboration and clear communication (rather than game-playing) the order of the day?  And a lot more private too.
Several celebrity couples have gone through a collaborative divorce. Singer and performer Madonna and her former husband director Guy Ritchie are considered to be the first celebrity couple who went public about using collaborative law.  Comedian Robin Williams and his wife chose to use the collaborative divorce process in 20018. Williams is quoted as saying: “We will strive to be honest, cooperative and respectful as we work in this process to achieve the future well-being of our families.  We commit ourselves to the collaborative law process.”   More recently, Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren reportedly used collaborative divorce.
Avoiding conflict is always going to be the most sensible way to reach an agreement, despite the high emotional and financial stakes.
Like any conflictual divorce case, there are participants who feel  justified in alienating their previous partner and believing that they are ‘in the right’ – and meanwhile the children suffer.  Could it be that whilst Britain and Europe argue out the terms of their divorce, that other countries will be badly affected?  Does breakup tend to mean selfishness and insular thought?
It is a great shame that so few people are aware of the benefits of Collaborative Divorce – or that it even exists at all.  Like mediation, the focus is often on the children, which tends to make the decisions of their parents more long-term and sustainable.  Based less upon fear and more upon taking joint responsibility of their children’s future.
james belderbos collaborative-divorce-lawyer-leicestershire-le/

“The collaborative divorce process is where you and your former partner can, with the help of your chosen solicitors, sit down in the same room and work through each and every problem face to face.
These meetings enable you and your family to resolve the issues that concern you the most, with the involvement, if necessary, of other professionals to assist in the process. These may include Financial Advisors or Family Consultants.” James Belderbos: Collaborative Practitioner and Family Lawyer
Couples are morally required to do what is in the best interest of the children e.g. access to co-parenting classes or working with an expert in creating co-parenting agreements and facilitating communication with the wider family relationships.  In some States in America, taking a parenting class is obligatory when divorcing – and perhaps before the Brexit breakup it would have been better for the world community if the UK and Europe had undergone some tuition in healthy communication?


I think collaborative lawyers need to have a louder voice and to make their work more accessible to divorcing couples, and also those forming cohabitation agreements or resolving family issues where both financial and therapeutic experts can be invited into the collaborative law sessions.
If top celebrities can do it – so can we.


Victoria Sharman divorce counsellor watford bucks HA

Victoria Sharman is a qualified counsellor with over 20 years experience helping couples and families make the changes they need to relieve distress and improve the quality of their important relationships.

Access your complimentary discovery session by phone with Victoria


tel: 0208 933 3040   mobile: 07936 88 11 50


Divorce Coaching and Better CoParenting

Posted by on 9:00 pm in Coaching support through divorce, Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Parenting Advice, Parenting Resources, Relationship Breakdown, Useful articles Wellbeing | 0 comments

Divorce Coaching and Better CoParenting

My biggest inspiration has been my children. They have been the most important thing in my life so far. To me children are a gift, and with that gift comes a responsibility from the person who receives them, to make sure that your children are given the best opportunities in life, so that they grow into well-adjusted, well-functioning adults.

My inspiration for working with couples as a relationship coach is that I know how traumatic divorce and separation can be. I just want to help other couples to deal with it in a way that will allow them to suffer the least amount of emotional upheaval. That way the children retain their sense of security, with a loving relationship with both parents.

Where coaching can be helpful with that, is that it can help you to look at the other person’s behaviour and how it affects you, how it makes you feel. It can help you to look at different ways of reacting, and what results can come from that. If your reaction changes to the other parent, that will affect how they will react to you, because they will be expecting you to act in a certain way, and when you don’t, that kind of brings them up short, and they think: “Oh… wait, he didn’t take the bait, how come?”

So it can be very useful in helping you to change the whole situation from a volatile situation into – not necessarily an amicable one – but one that allows you to maintain some sort of control of the situation, because often when we are angry it’s because we have lost control, and that’s where the anger is coming from. If you can just feel: “I was able to keep myself calm, and still get what I wanted” – that leaves you with a great sense of satisfaction. And the children are spared the upheaval that comes with parents who are in conflict with each other.

I think that if I had access to coaching when I was experiencing marital difficulties, I don’t think it would have taken me as long as I did to leave the relationship. No matter how hard I tried to fix the marriage, I wasn’t going to be able to fix what was wrong, because we both had a part to play in the relationship.  I got to the point after many counselling sessions of realising that it wasn’t all his fault, and it wasn’t all my fault either – but we both had a part to play.

I think if I had had coaching available to me at that time, I don’t think it would have taken so long for me to come to that point of realisation. It would have helped me realise much sooner what part I was playing in the dynamic of the relationship, and that it was time to let go.



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What often get’s missed out with a quickie divorce

Posted by on 12:31 pm in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Financial Divorce Advice, Useful articles Finance | 0 comments

What often get’s missed out with a quickie divorce


A recent question came up in our Secret Facebook Group about what is the best online divorce provider.

It’s a good question to ask, because the feedback I have had from many people who have used them, is that the quality of the service can vary enormously. But I notice the real problem they have, is that their expectations about what a divorce actually involves, are often way out of kilter.

The person asking the question in this case seemed very much in control of the process and was presumably looking for a simple way to finish it off – to end the marriage contract. But the guidance received in the group was so useful to the majority of people who are looking for a quick fix solution, that I thought I’d share it. Obviously, I keep everything that is in the group Secret (hence the name) but I’m pretty sure that the experts from the Alternative Divorce Directory, who offer their guidance within the group, are happy for their pearls of wisdom to reach a wider audience! (Isn’t that right, Sam?)

My own comment on the post was…. “What I would make sure of is that you have spoken with a financial planner to make sure you don’t end up with tax bills you might not need to pay or pensions poorly ‘split’. Also, make sure that you turn your financial agreement – consent order – into a legally binding document. I was speaking about that the other day with solicitor and mediator Laura Sherlock. Just because you do the divorce bit that doesn’t mean your ex husband or wife can’t claim a right to your finances years down the line.”

Chartered Financial Planner Sam Whybrow popped into the group and explained the following – which was so valuable I wanted to share it:

“That’s right Suzy Miller. Regardless of going through divorce it is imperative to consider the full financial implications of any decision before they are made reality. The tax consequences amongst other financial implications could be life changing, especially during divorce.
The need to do this is even more important before, during and after the divorce process because the implications both financially and emotionally could be far worse. It amazes me that people still do not fully explore or understand their pensions yet there could be a significant amount of wealth tied up in them. The fact that pensions don’t provide instant gratification like the matrimonial home means that they are often forgotten about – yet the value and income potential means they could be worth a lot more (both financially and emotionally further down the line).
Perhaps it’s because people don’t understand them or they’ve been made to feel they are too complex.? It’s rubbish. They are a valuable asset just like any other and should be treated as such. You wouldn’t buy a house without instructing a solicitor, perhaps an estate agent, a surveyor and even a designer – so why wouldn’t you instruct a financial planner to analyse the pros and cons of the pension and how this might look pre and post divorce?
We have a duty as financial planners to help people to understand their pensions and finances in a jargon free way so that they can make informed decisions regarding their future. This, I am sure, provides people with clarity and control whilst going through divorce during a period in life when it feels like these don’t exist.”


So for all those out there who are considering a ‘quickie divorce’ online, more important than which company you use, is to have a conversation with a financial planner and save on tax and miscalculation of the real value of pensions – and not having a proper financial plan going forwards. Divorce is much more than the closing of a contract.

Thank you Sam for sharing!



Sam Whybrow Divorce Financial Advice London

I offer a financial health check that is free of charge.

This meeting is about getting to know each other to see whether we can work together and it is your chance to ask questions and find out how I can help to improve your situation.

Contact me now on 07563529918
to arrange a time to talk

Sam Whybrow


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Theta Healing Radio Interview with Debbie Talalay

Posted by on 3:56 pm in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Useful articles Wellbeing, wellbeing and coaching | 0 comments

Theta Healing Radio Interview with Debbie Talalay

In this Brooklands Radio Surrey interview with Theta Healer Debbie Talalay, Debbie explains how Theta Healing is a quick and powerful way to heal the mind of subconscious blocks – and also physical problems.  
She relates an incredible story about a Theta Healing client who reported that her Psoriasis disappeared overnight, and how she has helped people with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.


“Debbie Talalay – wow, if you haven’t been to see Debbie yet, then you just must. Went to see her and found out about ingrained beliefs I didn’t know I even had (but make a lot of sense given my background etc) and now they are gone… just like that!”  Lara Zibarras: Athena

Debbie uses Theta Healing for a wide range of situations including weight loss, feeling ‘redundant’, and helping clients deal with the issues around divorce which may stay with them for many years.  By working with Debbie, long-held beliefs can be eliminated swiftly and painlessly, without her clients having to re-live those challenging times.

Deborah was an actress for many years. After years of repeated chest infections, she was forced to look into alternative therapies for some answers. On the road back to health she became so fascinated by what these therapies could achieve where conventional treatments had failed, that when her eldest son was born in 1986 she decided to train as a homoeopath.

As well as working with adults she has also treated many young people with behavioural and learning difficulties, who have gone on to become happy and well-adjusted adults. She has worked extensively in her practice with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome and at Chailey Heritage a centre of excellence for children with complex physical disabilities.  Deborah was also a Foresight Infertility Practitioner and has helped many infertile couples to conceive.

Healing for Change includes Theta Healing techniques and is a groundbreaking healing process that helps rapidly heal & release negative thoughts, beliefs and behaviours so that you can finally achieve your goals. Find why manifesting won’t work if you still have negative beliefs running your subconscious mind. Healing for Change works to unlock the beliefs that are holding you back, clears the negativity & makes room for your hopes and dreams to become a reality. Healing for Change installs positive beliefs that can have a life-changing effect.


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“I know it worked – because I can breathe deeply again without feeling blocked.

I feel like a new woman since my Theta Healing session and I’ve had more potential clients gravitating towards me.”

Claudia Crawley: Career coach & executive coach for women, at Winning Pathways Coaching.


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Even Swans Get Divorced

Posted by on 10:41 pm in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Divorce News | 0 comments

Even Swans Get Divorced

Petra isn’t known for her philandering. A number of male swans attempted to make her acquaintance in the two years preceding December 2007 – but Petra rejected them all, for she was in love with a plastic swan-shaped pedal boat.

The romantic escapades of the black swan hit headlines around the world when she began following a white pedal boat around on the lake where she lived. When winter arrived, she refused to be separated from the boat when workers removed it from the lake for the winter. The local zoo found a place for the swan and the boat to spend the winter together.

But despite Petra’s love and devotion to her unusual choice of mate, and our own human desire to believe in life long commitments between creatures other than ourselves, it has been discovered that five percent of whooping swan pairs end in divorce, and as many as 1 in 10 pairs of mute swans split up.

Unlike with humans, the swans’ divorce process seems not to dissolve into years or rancour, unhappiness and debt.



In a strange turn of events (but not AS strange), a pair of British swans decided to separate, according to an article in BBC News. For only the second time in 40 years of observation, the Gloucestershire wildfowl sanctuary had seen a divorce among the birds, who tend to mate for life. Unlike other swans who get new partners after becoming widows, these birds seem to have suffered irreconcilable differences.

The sanctuary has studied 4,000 pairs of swans as they migrate from Arctic Russia. The rogue male swan, named Sarindi, ditched his partner Saruni for the migration, leaving experts to fear Saruni had died. When she showed up with a new mate herself, researcher Julia Newth told the BBC the staff was surprised to see neither swan showing “any signs of recognition or greeting — even though they are occupying the same part of the small lake.” Newth is uncertain what caused the swans to part ways, but suspects failure to breed may have been a factor.

One of the objectives of the Alternative Divorce is to provide the information and the inspirational support human beings need when going through relationship break ups. We can’t help swans who are getting divorced, but we can try to reverse the stigma over break up and help people feel supported through the process.

If even swans can sometimes need to change partners, we shouldn’t make humans feel like failures because they haven’t made their relationship work for an entire lifetime.

Swans, Wikipedia tells us, usually mate for life. Divorce, though, the entry goes on, “does sometimes occur, particularly following nesting failure.” Which perhaps explains why Petra, the famous black swan from the German town of Münster, finally ditched her boyfriend for a new beau. It is, after all, difficult to nest with a giant, plastic pedal boat.

Not many nests are wrecked by the rigours of the credit crunch, so what does drive this icon of romance, the swan that `mates for life’, to divorce? Biologists are scrutinising bird families, from courtship to break up, with new interest these days. For years, scientists assumed that birds which nested together pretty much stayed together without slipping off to visit alluring neighbours. In the 1980s, however, DNA analyses of nestlings revealed that the male who helps tend them is not always their genetic father. “A lot of birds are having a bit on the side,” says Jeffrey M. Black of the University of Cambridge in England, “so many theories about evolution and social behaviour have been turned on their heads.”

From this upset, studies of feathered divorce have begun to emerge. “I think you’re going to see a lot more,” Black predicts. Many researchers use the term “divorce” for paired birds that separate or fail to reunite during the next breeding opportunity. When the word first showed up in ornithology papers, “there was an uproar,” Black remembers. However, ornithologists didn’t seem to take to such proposed alternatives as “severance,” “breakage,” “dissolution,” or that masterpiece of neutrality, “nonretainment.”

Black has collected estimates of divorce rates in more than 100 species of birds. The percentage of pair bonds that break ranges from nearly 100, in house martins and greater flamingos, to roughly zero in Australian ravens and the waved albatross. Humans, who divorce in 40 to 50 percent of new marriages in the United States and are predicted to reach such levels in the UK, fall into the same range as the masked booby. Divorce rates differ not only among species but among different populations of the same species, much as humans in Hove untie the knot at a higher rate than those in Cheshire.

The frequency of deserting females does not surprise Andre Dhondt of the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology, who compares relative investments in reproduction. “There is more at stake for females than males,” he points out. To find out who benefits from a divorce, Dhondt has tallied the number of subsequent offspring of divorced male and female blue tits. “Typically, females improve their breeding success, but the males don’t,” he reports.

The singles scene can be tough for some species. Among red-billed gulls in a region with few males, 32 percent of females that lose their mates through death or divorce never breed again. Long-time gull watcher James A. Mills of Corning, N.Y., who reports that number, notes that some of these loners lived 10 more years.

Luckily, humans don’t have to rely on being able to reproduce to find a happy partnership. But we do need a great deal of practical and emotional support to help us start over successfully when things don’t work out.

In humans, second or third-time around UK divorces have doubled since 1981, say official statistics. According to the Office for National Statistics, one in five of all couples divorcing in 2005 already had one marriage break-up behind them.

But there is hope yet – apparently, Bewick’s swans never separate. Well… almost never.


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When Birds Divorce  Who splits, who benefits, and who gets the nest By Susan Milius

Jeffrey M. Black, Cambridge University, Department of Zoology, Downing St. Cambridge CB2 3EJ England
Andre A. Dhondt, Cornell University, Laboratory of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850

Infidelity: Julia Keys wants us to spy on each other

Posted by on 12:28 pm in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Divorce News, Useful articles Wellbeing | 3 comments

Infidelity: Julia Keys wants us to spy on each other


The wife of former Sky Sports presenter Richards Keys has claimed she spotted ‘telltale’ signs that he may be seducing another woman – as she wrote a book on infidelity.  A trained counsellor, she has now written a book called The Manscript, which helps readers to identify when their partner is cheating on them.

I hope that as a trained counsellor, Julia Keys will offer more in her book than how to increase the level of paranoia and fear in every couple who reads the book, where one of them has a nagging doubt about their spouse’s fidelity.  Next I imagine we will see ‘How To Spot An Adulterer’ as a TV series, and then maybe we’ll end up with a whole nation of both spouses each secretly spying on each other, searching for the ‘tell-tale signs’ that their beloved ‘until death us do part’ husband or wife, is shagging someone else.


But what good will it do?


From my own experience, I learned two big lessons from being on the sharp end of infidelity.

The first was that although the agony of rejection was worse that being physically beaten up – no-one could see the depth and scarring of the wounds of betrayal on the outside, which makes it a deeply lonely experience – the fact dawned on me after a few months of intense suffering that actually, I was still alive and functioning, no-one was dead, and maybe it was my attachment to the importance of fidelity that was the problem, and not the action itself?



When you are whole and sure of who you are, then infidelity does not have quite the same impact and so will not hurt as much.


Everything hurts more if it touches on your insecurities. If you are secure in yourself then you are not so easily destroyed.


Personally, I don’t choose to be in an intimate relationship with someone who is having other intimate relationships elsewhere, not because it’s ‘wrong’ or means I’m ‘not enough’ – but because the quality of that relationship will be pants.  It’s hard enough to have a meaningful honest loving intimate relationship with one person – never mind having another one on the side.  I want grown up relationships – not ones that I use to make myself feel special and loved. I’ve learned that this is my job – not a partner’s job.  I’m responsible for how good I feel about myself, not them.


And that leads me to my second learning. What really began to cause me emotional pain wasn’t that we couldn’t trust each other anymore.  It was that he had not been brave enough to tell me that he wanted to have a relationship with someone else.  It was that horrible realisation that our ‘relationship’ was a mirage, an illusion, and perhaps it had never had any depth and strength to it at all.  We had just assumed love made strong relationships.  It doesn’t.  You have to put some work in.


The ‘work’ needed for relationships is not about sacrifice nor bullying your partner into behaving in socially acceptable ways (because insisting someone behaves a certain way ‘or you’ll leave them’ is actually a form of bullying) – it is about learning how to trust each another enough to tell the truth, even when that truth is painful to the person you love. 


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I feel sad that someone can be so low in self-esteem as to keep ‘searching’ for proof of a possible infidelity; a punishing exercise….However I did have to find my proof; I knew that something was way wrong in our long marriage, sadly I was correct… learning to know ‘You’, is key; learning to trust can follow. Old habits can change and love, companionship and fun can be the result.  Susan Cowe-Miller: Hampshire EFT


Making a different choice


Wouldn’t it be amazing if instead of sneaking around making secret texts, your partner was able to sit down and talk about what’s going on for them, in a space of non-judgement and unconditional love?  And if the idea of that makes you laugh – just think about it.  We get the relationships we choose.  So what choices have you been making lately?

Julia Keys Infidelity


If your partner is using relationships to feel loved and special, then the problem isn’t that you have ‘failed’ to provide that sense of love and specialness.  Because it’s impossible.  They will seek forever to find it and never reach that place of peace.  Because it isn’t outside – they already have it inside them if only they could see it. So instead, why not choose relationships where your spouse is emotionally mature and secure enough to realise this, and build a strong and honest communication without fear or judgment, so spying on each other would become utterly redundant.  You’d just ask a question, and receive an honest answer.  Surely it can be that simple – can’t it?


Well…. not simple.  It takes some training.  Which is why Counsellors and Relationship Coaches have so much to offer.  These skills are rarely learned from our parents and so we need to find good teachers.  The Relationship Experts on the Alternative Divorce Directory spend time helping couples stay together, as well as to part in ways that build a strong and trusting relationship.


Adriana Galimberti-Rennie divorce counsellor London SW“In my experience once the impenetrable boundary has actually been broken, shame can lead to further betrayals of trust. We might feel ashamed because we don’t see ourselves as somebody who would betray another’s trust so we lie to cover the original behaviour. Other ways of dealing with deceiving someone is to minimise what’s happening or to make ourselves believe but the other person in the main relationship doesn’t care anyway, so it doesn’t matter. All of these ways of distancing emotional discomfort or pain provide alternatives so we don’t have to recognise the once impenetrable boundary is broken.  So the ’emotional dance’ between the main couple changes the moment that someone else comes into the couple relationship, a change in the dance is usually enough to signal problems within the relationship, courage by both adults is needed to be able to acknowledge the change.”  Adriana Galimberti-Rennie Associate Fellow British Psychological Society


How can you ever trust them again?


I remember thinking “I’ll never trust him (or any man) ever again.”  That’s a shit place to be.  But if you focus on how you’ve been wronged, and paranoiacally search for evidence (possibly bringing in the kids to help you search on Facebook to spy on ‘that adulterer’ – I’ve seen it happen) – then what kind of world are you creating for yourself?  If someone lies to you they deserve your compassion, not your hatred.  Be glad you are not them.  If you want greater honesty in your relationship, you can’t use the truth as a weapon – making it your reason to leave. 

If a partner knows that by confessing their infidelity, you are going to end the relationship – of course they’re not going to tell you the truth based on those rules.  Sneaking about trying to prove them a liar (having set up the situation so that lying is going to be the most obvious choice if they want to remain in a relationship with you) – is never going to help relieve the pain of the truth, nor create solid foundations for a strong co-parenting relationship if you decide to split.

I learned through my co-parenting relationship – a totally new relationship, that slowly grew out of the ashes of the old one – that you can actually learn to trust again.  Not as a romantic partner, but as a father to my children, and someone who cares for his family deeply.  I learned that I could respect someone again whom I once despised, and that the level of honesty is founded on not only his level of emotional maturity, but also mine.