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Is Your Soon-To-Be-Ex An Idiot?

Posted by on 10:28 pm in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Divorce Advice FAQs, Divorce and Family Mediation, divorce arbitration, Q & A: Divorce Questions Answered, What Do You Mean You Want A F***ing Divorce? | 0 comments

Is Your Soon-To-Be-Ex An Idiot?

I’m going to bust a divorce myth that makes a mockery of any sane divorce strategy. It’s the one called: “Oh no, my husband/wife won’t use mediation.”

Now stay with me, because you’re smart, right? And you don’t want to be making a mistake believing in a myth that could cost you thousands, and many years of strife? There has to be a divorce strategy that will work better than believing in myths? 

Let me explain:

Your spouse might currently be making mediation impossible – but think about it for a minute:  If they were in their right mind, they would know that coming to an agreement with the help of a mediator compared to endless solicitors letters, court battles and years of suffering both financially and emotionally – well, only an idiot would go for the court option, wouldn’t they?

But it may be that your spouse is currently not in their right mind, because perhaps they don’t even realise how stupid they are being, because they don’t have anyone telling them the full truth of the situation. To be honest, their current divorce strategy is pretty lame.

But now they have you.  Because you’re intelligent, and you know that it’s pretty obvious that spending vast amounts of money on legal fees just to get to a worse outcome (because now you have less to share as you’ve donated so much to the law firms) – well that doesn’t make sense on any level, does it?  Not if there are better ways to come to the same agreement.  And you know this now, so you’re not going to keep it a secret, are you?

And anyway, you wouldn’t have married an idiot, would you?  Because you’re smart, and whatever else you might feel about your spouse right now, you know for a fact that they are not stupid. Just temporarily misguided and ill-informed.

So what’s the real problem with the ‘won’t use mediation’ myth?  The real problem is, that you actually believed it.

Only not anymore.  Now you can clearly see how only a complete fool would choose court battles over a peaceful mediated solution; or the option of using collaborative lawyers who keep you out of court; or even an arbitrator if you just can’t agree and need a ‘private judge’ to make the decision for you.  These are all sensible divorce strategies, available to you right now.

So what do you do whilst your spouse is temporarily insane?

All you need to do is continue to assume that your spouse will wake up at some point and be back in their right mind.  Because if they don’t, that makes them a complete prat, and you didn’t marry a fool, did you?

So to speed up their return to sanity, you can say things like:


“Look, if you want to drag this into court and spend thousands on lawyers and barristers which could have been spent on your children’s university fees, go ahead.  Meanwhile – because I’m smart – I’ll self-represent with minimal legal back up at a fraction of the cost because I don’t want to waste money better kept for our kids.


And I’ll keep holding the door open for mediation or any form of sensible sane dispute resolution that you are willing to engage in. And any judge will be unimpressed by your decision to fight, whilst I am visibly and constantly holding out a better way to divorce, a more peaceful one, so the judge may also think you are being a bit of a twat. 
Eventually those voices in your head (lawyers; mates down the pub; more lawyers) will be replaced by the blindingly obvious fact that their advice is largely unhelpful, unless they are telling you to stay out of court.  Which from what I’ve heard, seems to be unlikely.


So I’ll just hold this space for you whilst you return to your rightful thinking, because it’s really hard for you to fight a battle when your opponent is consistently suggesting sitting down with the peace pipe or other out-of-court solutions. 
In fact, as the ‘war’ progresses, you will look increasingly silly, like some manic despot firing a rifle at the stars on an empty battlefield, while I’m in the Cafeteria biding my time till you return to your senses.  I know that you will, because I didn’t marry an idiot.  And I’m prepared to hold onto that belief until you come back to yourself again.  I’ll hold that space for you.”

What if I married a narcissist or an abuser?

If you married a total narcissist who is using the court system to abuse you emotionally and financially, the common belief is that dispute resolution is not going to work.  But narcissists love the family law system.  It’s their playground.  If you go into battle with someone who lacks empathy and who is prepared to destroy their children to ‘win’ in court, then you don’t stand a chance in hell if you take up arms in court to fight against them.

I’m not saying that you won’t ever need to use the courts to clarify certain boundaries.  But it doesn’t make sense to use it as a knee-jerk reaction because that’s what everyone tells you to do because ‘dispute resolution won’t work with narcissists’. Apparently.   What’s important, is that you have to be smarter than them (or get help from other people who are smarter than them).  Those people may need to use aspects of legal enforcement to clarify boundaries (Restraining orders, Child Contact orders for example) in order to make sure your spouse knows where the boundaries lie. 

But even a narcissist doesn’t want to spend thousands on a financial agreement if they don’t need to – it’s just that they need to be right.  So if you use Collaborative Law to stay out of court and to come to an agreement, you may want a specialist coach (a specialist in dealing with narcissists) sitting by your side during the negotiations.  And you might want to make sure that these Collaborative Lawyers have undergone some training in dealing with these ‘unreasonable’ clients. 

So it’s not impossible to make use of dispute resolution in such cases, but you might need a bit of court time at certain points, and a trained team to support you.  Or you can just spend years battling it out in court.  It’s up to you.

“Can’t use dispute resolution in domestic abuse cases” I hear you cry.

Well, that’s what people say –  and you can get legal aid for a solicitor if there is abuse (depending on your income) because the assumption is that mediation won’t be appropriate.  Well conventional mediation won’t be.  But what about the other ways of mediating?

If you follow the standard guidance, you will end up in court.  And that means, you could end up (at the time of writing) in court with your abusive partner self-representing and having a great time telling all kinds of tales about you, in front of you, and the judge.

Or – (what a shame if no-one mentioned it as an option) – you can conduct mediation from a room where your spouse cannot enter, with the mediator shuttling back and forth.  Or via the internet, in a safe location. Perhaps with a cup of tea and a supportive friend or coach or therapist by your side.  Would that scenario not hold out more benefits than being in the same court room, potentially being publicly questioned by the very person who has abused you in the past?

I am not trying to pretend that any solution is going to be easy.  I’m not trying to undermine those therapists and mediators who ascertain that mediation and other forms of dispute resolution is not appropriate if abuse or narcissism is involved.  What I’m saying is that the alternative of court is surely no better if rated on the level of stress and trauma that the abused person may undergo during the experience, so why not at least explore the possibility of alternatives?

Because abusers and narcissists are not all idiots. So why decide on their behalf to only have court as an option and leave them the single choice of the playground of a conventional adversarial system?

And what fuels my confusion with why so many – including mediators themselves – are so quick to dismiss more creative forms of dispute resolution when one spouse clearly ticks the ‘narcissist’ or ‘abuser’ tick box, is how rarely they offer any other solutions at all. Just going to war.

Why doesn’t anyone ever mention family arbitration?  Where a trained specialist arbitrator with often far more knowledge of the family law system than many judges in a family law court, and more time to get to know a couple’s particular case, can make the final decisions for those couples who are unable to come to agreement themselves.  No court.  No drawn-out litigation.  Just a fee to the arbitrator and the job is done.

Fighting in court is like pointing nukes at each other and believing that this is a viable way to end a dispute.  Wars are not ended by both sides nuking each other, partly because there is nothing left for either of them after the battle (which does happen in some divorces) – but because only an idiot would think that responding to a hostile attack by being equally hostile, actually works.

Most wars end because one side becomes so exhausted and fed up that they capitulate.  And they don’t just end with the financial order from the judge.  Those angry divorces can keep on going back to court or fighting terrorist actions, using the children as ammunition, for years.  

And what kind of a valiant victory is that?  “Yay kids!  I’ve worn daddy down to a shadow of his former self, pushed him almost to suicide and now he can no longer afford to have you guys stay over because he lives in a bedsit in a dodgy part of town.  What a victory!”

I don’t think the kids will see that as much of a victory, do you?

How do countries that have been at war for years find a resolution?  The kind of resolution that leads to long term peace?

They create a Peace Treaty.

People who create peace treaties are generally heralded as brave, visionary, moral.  They are rarely accused of being an idiot.

How can friends, families and colleagues support others who are embarking on an adversarial divorce?

The next time you hear someone claim that their soon-to-be-ex won’t use some form of dispute resolution, which is essentially the creation of a full-on peace treaty, ask them: “Is your spouse an idiot?”

But the real questions should be (though you won’t dare to ask it):

“If you believe that they won’t use dispute resolution, then you must believe they are an idiot.  Why don’t you educate them?  Why don’t you hold out that opportunity – which can be opted into at any point?”


It’s never too late to change course for the better. Never too late to re-assess your divorce strategy.  Isn’t it better to create your own Peace Treaty rather than to watch your soon-to-be-ex behave like a fool, and to convince yourself that there is no other option, without even trying those other options out?”

It only takes one person to stay sane to change everything. 

Are you ready to be that person?



Suzy Miller is a Divorce Strategist who helps to prepare divorcing clients for a more peaceful journey through divorce.

Dating Advice from Karen Marshall podcast interview

Posted by on 8:31 pm in Divorce & Starting Over TV, Divorce Advice | 0 comments

Dating Advice from Karen Marshall podcast interview

Dating and Relationship Coach Karen Marshall shares some handy dating advice with me prior to going off to a dating event.
Having not dated for some time, I’m not the easiest subject to advise, but I found Karen’s guidance very useful.  I did remember not to ask any of the chaps about their Ex partners/wives, despite revealing myself to be a Divorce Strategist.  And I did remember to mostly just enjoy the evening and felt more confident than I would have if I hadn’t had the session beforehand.
Noticing body language is not something I’d really thought about before – or spending more time not just listening – but observing the other people.  Do they make eye-contact?  Are they comfortable in themselves?  I tend to make excuses for people, thinking “oh, they are shy”.  But I don’t want to date a 5o year old man who hasn’t learn to become more sure of himself.  We’re not teenagers!
I guess it’s about focus and remembering to not judge, but to ‘take note’ of behaviour or aspects that would indicate a less than ideal person to potentially date.  The conversation with Karen allowed me to stand back and really think about what I want, what I don’t want, but to still approach the event in a positive way.”  Suzy Miller


Anchor – Best Way To Divorce

Listen to Anchor audio from Best Way To Divorce: Suzy Miller Divorce Strategist as seen on BBC Breakfast TV, Womans Hour, Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail etc

image: karen marshall divorce coach relationship coach and dating coach bucks SL windsor marlow

For a FREE 30 minute no obligation Introduction Call contact Karen on:  

07590 221951 or email

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Should I Hire A Hit Man For My Ex?

Posted by on 10:08 pm in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Divorce Advice FAQs | 0 comments

Should I Hire A Hit Man For My Ex?

One of the questions a divorcing person might sometimes ask is:

“Should I hire a hit man for my Ex?”

Well, there’s two ways to read that question.

One is – give your ex a present of a hit man because perhaps you know someone they don’t like very much (hopefully not you!?)

The second is, getting divorced can be very stressful and I know for a fact that some perfectly nice people have had that thought pass through their mind at least once when things were getting really tricky.

But apart from the high cost of hiring a hit man, and trying to find a good one (I mean how to choose?) and the high risk of a lifetime of imprisonment, the biggest issue is that eliminating the ‘other parent’ is not great for the kids.


pistol-divorce advice should I hire a hit man for my ex


There are better ways to resolve co-parenting issues and I’d like to tell you all about them in my Unique Best Way To Divorce Video Course which includes the DIY divorce forms, an infographic of the divorce process, and several bonus videos.


If you’re in a bit more of a hurry, and you need a 1-1 Divorce Strategy session with a full money-back guarantee (even if you LOVE the session, no offence taken if you want the cost refunded – it’s just to make sure you remember to turn up for the phone call) – then I can help you with that too.


These and other awesome options on how to have a more peaceful divorce, and how to turn around a nasty one, are at



Podcast version: Listen on iTunes

Alternative Ways To Divorce

Posted by on 9:31 pm in Collaborative Divorce, Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Divorce News, Useful articles Law | 0 comments

Alternative Ways To Divorce

Divorce and Separation can be far less stressful if you use ‘alternatives’ to going to court – such as Collaborative Law or just keeping things peaceful and out of the court room.

James Belderbos is one of those family law solicitors who would much rather you sorted things out in a peaceful manner, than ended up needing to be represented in court.  As a family man himself, James prefers to take an intelligent approach to the challenges of separating finances and parenting responsibilities.

James supports divorcing couples in the Leicestershire and surrounding areas, and he has a strong collaborative network of other professionals such as financial experts, coaches and counsellors, since divorce is a process that requires many types of expertise to get the desired end result.

The more intelligent and non-combative the approach, the more money a couple can save and the less ongoing stress they will have to suffer.  Which is why James is a strong proponent of Collaborative Practice, and he is himself a qualified Collaborative Family Lawyer.

To find out more about how the Collaborative Law Process can make divorce and separation so much less messy, click here.

To find out more about James Belderbos, click here.




Don’t Get Divorce Advice From A Divorcee

Posted by on 2:36 pm in Divorce & Starting Over TV, Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles | 0 comments

Don’t Get Divorce Advice From A Divorcee

In this short podcast I explain why you need to be careful about who you get your advice from when divorcing.


Anchor – Best Way To Divorce

Listen to Anchor audio from Best Way To Divorce: Suzy Miller Divorce Strategist as seen on BBC Breakfast TV, Womans Hour, Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail etc

Best Way To Divorce Radio Show Podcast: Listen Here…..

How To Make The Best Divorce (Recipe)

Posted by on 3:20 pm in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Divorce News | 0 comments

How To Make The Best Divorce (Recipe)

Here is a simple recipe for the Best Way To Divorce. Follow this and avoid many of the disasters that can befall those those who manage their own DIY or self-managed divorce.  With a divorce recipe to hand, it’s possible to save thousands on legal fees, and avoid harming the children, and the whole process can be far less stressful. Divorce and separation is usually pretty tough on everyone in the family, so having some kind of proper plan, a focus on what you want for the future, creating clarity on post-divorce finances – all these elements are as important as any legal aspects of the divorce.

Do We Need A.I. Divorce Lawyers To Make The New Government Online Divorce System Work?

Posted by on 8:19 am in Divorce Advice, Divorce Advice and articles, Divorce News | 0 comments

Do We Need A.I. Divorce Lawyers To Make The New Government Online Divorce System Work?

The first step to having an automated robot lawyer to administer your divorce has begun – A pilot project has been run in a divorce court in Nottingham with ‘really positive’ results, according to initial assessments, with a completely online system for uncomplicated divorces.

But it seems people can’t fill in the forms properly.  Hmm – surprised they didn’t see that one coming.  But then – immediately we have evidence of the need for assistance – from lawyers?  Or at the very least a team of supporters in the divorce administrative process, (which online divorce providers have offered as an ‘upsell’ for years).

Court managers have disclosed that four out of 10 people who fill in divorce application forms without the help of a lawyer have their request for the divorce process to begin rejected because they cannot complete the form correctly.

The intentions behind this trial seem healthy enough. Judges and Ministers hope the trial of the method will revolutionise family law.  Last year the most senior family judge, President of the Family Division Sir James Munby, promised that when digitised divorce is in operation ‘we will, at last, have escaped from a court system still in too large part moored in the world of the late Mr Charles Dickens

Of course, to be able to use an online digital system your divorce has to be pretty much one that you can resolve together over the kitchen table.

In cases where the divorce is uncontested, and where there are no arguments over property, money or children, divorces can be completed without the couple having to go to court. (This is the case right now of course.)  But the online system has the potential to make divorce even easier – apparently.

But hang on a minute.  When they say: “where there are no arguments” – could that also mean one person telling the other person how it’s going to pan out, and their spouse being too frightened to argue with them?

But if divorce is all about filling in a few forms, then what’s the problem?  Because anyone who has been through family separation knows that divorce is all about admin and forms, don’t they?

Russell Bywater, a partner at Dawson Cornwell solicitors, is quoted as saying: ‘If one was cynical one could say the online divorce pilot is a convenient distraction to draw attention away from the inconvenient truth which is that the court service generally is woefully under-resourced and many courts are borderline administratively dysfunctional.

I think Mr Bywater has a point.  But the focus is still on the ‘admin’ – and that’s the problem.  

Currently you can already do the ‘admin part’ by accessing forms online for free – direct from the government website or via a resource I created recently – only I added video and extra information for the many who will soon discover that just filling in forms – even if you get it 100% correct – does not turn divorce into as simple a process as they thought it would be.

As a Divorce Strategist, I offer a fully-refundable initial strategy session and often assume that my client will only need one session once provided with a clearer over-view of the divorce landscape – rather like flying over their divorce in a balloon and assessing the wider implications and how to avoid it all turning nasty. Yet invariably we discover that there are whole areas of their divorce that they haven’t yet considered.

Does the online system bring up issues of grandparents who may need to feel included in the creation of a parenting plan because their goodwill and mutual support for the couple can be important in keeping it all peaceful?  Does it provide a framework for creating a parenting plan at all?

Does the online system explain at what points talking to a lawyer is a good idea?  The current government website information constantly suggests as a caveat for most of the information to ‘talk to a lawyer’ – incidentally without any real guidance of exactly where and when you most need to use one.  Because there are times it is wise to use legal services, even in the most peaceful low-cost divorce – and that’s coming from someone who promotes herself as sharing with clients “What the lawyers don’t tell you”.

Does the new system suggest that the couples’ concept of ‘we don’t really have any assets to split so it’s really simple’ get a review to test that belief (which could be for free) from a financial planner?  Because I am often surprised by how many clients I talk to who have a great deal more assets in their marriage than they seem to realise, and some even talk about ‘his’ or ‘her’ assets, unaware that they are ‘their’ assets due to the marriage contract they both signed. 

So maybe an Artificial Intelligence online lawyer has a role after all, to make the online divorce process more likely to succeed?  If there is an AI designer out there who would like me to help them to program this clever robot to provide key information that most people lack when they begin the process of divorce, and to also help them avoid that stage where it turns from a simple administrative process into years of court battles – because divorce is only 10% legal and 90% human – then feel free to contact me.

But no matter how beautifully programmed this AI lawyer will be, without the ability to connect on a human level, how will it not just become another staging post of an established ‘Dickensian’ system that filters out the ‘uncomplicated’ divorces, and throws the rest of them to the lions, into an existing court system that seems to actively support angry narcissistic behaviour and does little to support those with more peaceful inclinations where things have just started to get a bit out of hand.

Are humans truly empowered to navigate a massive emotional and practical journey, with enormous implications for their children, via an online form system that is still too complicated for 40% of them to fill out?  I wonder what Mr Dickens would have made of it all?


suzy-miller-divorce strategist


Suzy Miller

Divorce Strategist

As seen on BBC TV, Telegraph, Daily Mail etc
Collaborated with MOJ in promoting dispute resolution

“Peace is my weapon of choice”

What Do You Do When Your Clients’ Lives Are Turned Upside Down?

Posted by on 3:42 pm in Divorce Advice | 0 comments

What Do You Do When Your Clients’ Lives Are Turned Upside Down?

Ask Your Business Network To Host This Unique Short Talk Because 42% Of Their Married Clients Will Thank You:

Do you value your moral obligations to others MORE than your legal obligations?


When your clients or your employee’s lives are turned upside down by family breakup, there is no legal obligation to signpost them in ways that lead to more peaceful solutions.  But do you feel powerless to help them? Are you sure that any advice you may give is going to be GOOD advice, when they are caught in a nasty divorce battle, or depressed because they haven’t seen their children in months, or dreading monstrous legal costs – or in danger of losing their business?

The last thing you want to do to your valued clients is to give them the WRONG advice – advice like….  “Go and talk to a lawyer!” – when that might be the exact stage where they SHOULD NOT be talking to a lawyer!

But like them, you may be equally confused over when they do need a lawyer, a mediator, or financial expert?  How do they stay sane – and productive, throughout a process that can affect 42% of your married clients? 

I offer a 20-minute talk on “What The Lawyers Don’t Tell You” – a quick guide to Divorce First Aid.  In my role as the UK’s Divorce Strategist, you may have seen me on TV, providing expert commentary in The Telegraph or read the article I wrote for the Daily Mail –  I’ve even collaborated with Government departments in encouraging more peaceful ways for families to change form.

It’s not a legal necessity to signpost your clients towards a Better Way To Divorce – but I’d say it IS a moral one, because after just 20 minutes you can be certain not to give the wrong advice to vulnerable clients, nor to employees and friends.

A study of 13 European countries by the World Health Organization found that divorce was the ONLY factor linked with suicide in EVERY ONE of the 13 countries.  Divorced men, in particular, are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than married men – and that can be as a direct result of their divorce turning nasty – when maybe it just didn’t need to.  A Divorce strategy is key.

Divorce First Aid really can save lives.

Ask your business network to offer this unique training that will change the way they view a process that can adversely affect 42% of their married clients.   

So book me now for that 20-minute talk – no cost to the first 5 who book  (just travel expenses).  Contact


Divorce First Aid Training

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….

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Find me on LinkedIn | Carl Mountain


Mobile: 07800 768118

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