“Trust in the Law” they say
As if Family Law is a clear set of rules
A trustworthy shuttle from one island of family form into another
No room for reasonable doubt.
What Law has the right
To say when a father sees his child?
What Law can slice Solomon-like through family homes?
Savings for a future now altered?
A parent’s precious hours with those whom they value more
Than any building or bank account?
Is that our excuse to children now grown in years to come?
As we beg forgiveness for the parental spite
The wrenching apart
The money wasted
Will we meekly say in our defence: “We trusted in the Law”?
Could we not have chosen instead
To trust in ourselves?
There was an article written in the Telegraph about the financial implications of separating without legally doing so. It covered the legal situation that many people find themselves in by not proceeding with a divorce, even though they’d separated – some for many years.
There may be many reasons why someone does not want to go through the process of divorce. Quite often it is a fear of the unknown, or not wanting to rock the boat, as it were. However, underlying the reason there is likely to be a limiting belief that is really holding you back.
The following may help you to move through the block of taking the first step.
1. Get it out of your head
Often times, we are not really sure why we don’t want to take any action, although we feel a strong emotion not to address it. Yet, you probably are finding that when you think about it, thoughts run ten to the dozen around your head, playing out each and every scenario and outcome. Before you know it you have so many conflicting thoughts running around your mind, that you feel overwhelmed. This in turn can make you believe that the whole process of divorce will be overwhelming. It doesn’t need to be like this, and to help you make sense of the situation, you may find it helps to see everything written down.
- Take a piece of paper and start scribbling everything that comes to mind about the whole situation. A good tip would be to set a timer for 10 minutes and write non stop for that time. It’s important that you don’t stop to analyse, justify or work out solutions; this will come later.
- Now go back over everything you have written down and put a ‘+’ next to those that will be positive for you and a ‘-‘ next to those that are a negative.
- Transfer all the positives onto one piece of paper and then do the same for the negatives.
2. Be Honest About Your Lists
Often when you are faced with a major life change, it will make you feel uncertain, scared or even fearful of what is to come. From a biological perspective there is a reason for this. There is a part of your brain, called the Reptilian brain, that is designed to keep you safe. And it doesn’t like change, as it will perceive it as a threat to your survival. Obviously, it is unlikely that you will die as a result of making the decision to legally finalise your separation, but your Reptilian brain doesn’t know that. Therefore you need to let it know that you are safe, and the best way to achieve that is to create a sense of control over your situation.
- Starting with your negative list, establish whether each item is a real concern or a perceived concern. For example a real concern might be: under a pre-nuptial agreement, the house you are living in will no longer be yours. On the other hand, a perceived concern might be: I’ll come out with nothing from a divorce. The idea here is to identify which are facts, and which are emotional fears.
- For each of the items that you have identified as a fact, write down who you need to speak with to find out more about how a divorce will impact you in this area. From the example above, with a pre-nuptial agreement, you may need to speak with a solicitor.
- For each emotional fear, now that you have written them down, do they feel less threatening? What do you notice about all these fears? Do you notice a pattern? Is there something you can change now to reduce these fears?
People choose not to legally separate for a variety of reasons. Yet, many of these stem from a fear that is buried deep in their subconscious mind. If these fears are still causing you to hold off from proceeding with a legal separation, you may benefit from working with a professional who specialises in supporting people through the emotional impact before, during and after a Divorce.
Louise K. Shaw is an Energy Psychologist & Intuitive Coach who specialises in enhancing the emotional wellbeing of people affected by a major life event or illness. She offers a complimentary, no-obligation initial consultation to support you to make the right next step.
Step 1: Accept that you might go a little crazy
It’s OK, we’ve all gone a bit mad during one of the most stressful and emotionally gruelling experiences known to man – family breakup. The trick is, don’t let your insanity destroy your finances, your family relationships and your health. All three are at dire risk – so take out your anger and emotional pain on inanimate objects. Shout and cry a long way away from the children. Counsellors can offer a totally non-judgemental ear which is useful for a time – but don’t get locked into a ‘victim-mindset’ and just use therapy as a way to feel temporarily better.
This is a very good time to learn about meditation, to take up yoga – and kickboxing.
Step 2: Create resilience in your family
Your family is NOT broken. It is evolving into an extended family. Hold that thought – even when the ex-in-laws are ‘taking sides’, even when your spouse is transformed into a monstrous narcissistic ogre, even when you just want to get on a plane and get as far away from it all as possible.
Don’t pretend the kids aren’t suffering. Give them access to counselling/play therapy/happy times.
Most of all, give them YOUR time. And never, ever (unless there is GENUINE physical or emotional danger) deny them access to the other parent. Even if that has to be in a contact centre, or with mutual friends acting as guardians. The kids didn’t choose this divorce so don’t make them pay the full price for it.
Children want you to be happy. Both of you. So it’s your job to find a way to be happy again – and that is not in the arms of another person. It’s about doing some self-development work on yourself – or spending more time at the local spa or on holiday.
Life Coaches can also help to keep you focused and sane.
Step 3: Stay as far away from courtrooms as you possibly can.
Your imagined ‘Day In Court’ will get delayed and cut short and the judge may be a fantastic authority on Conveyancing but somewhat busking-it on the financial wranglings of Family Law. And they are busy and don’t really want you to be there, and you need to have tried to access mediation first – so why not just try a little harder to make that work because you’ll lose less time off work, less sleep stressed out (going to court is no picnic) and YOU will both be in control of the divorce – not some judge who doesn’t know you or your family. Why hand over the power of the decision-making to a complete stranger?
Get some guidance. Have a Divorce Strategy Session (100% refund after the session).
Step 4: Don’t dive into the financial aspects of divorce before you have done some homework.
No need to panic – you really don’t need to suddenly do some online accountancy training. Just have a free no-obligation conversation with a financial planner. No, they aren’t the IFAs who just do mortgages and insurances (though they can help you with that as well) – Financial Planners help you cashflow forecast into the future and make intelligent financial decisions for you and for your family.
Step 5: Keep focused on what really matters
I’ve known people cite the Miele hoover as part of the spoils of war in a divorce battle. Seriously. And we all know people fight over their pets (even kidnap them if they think the judgement might go against them). Yet they will sometimes forget about the impact of a parental war on their children (self-harming amongst kids whose parents are adversarial is not uncommon), or they will fail to do their sums and not notice that the legal fees have soared above £30,000 is a matter of weeks – and maybe this isn’t the best way to go?
Don’t listen to negative people who encourage you to be adversarial – focus on what really matters.
Step 6: Stay off the drugs – and that includes sex
Yes, it’s very tempting to drink away the misery, party every night and find solace in the arms of someone as traumatised as you are. But just don’t do it.
What you really need are long hot baths, crying whilst listening to sad music (very therapeutic – but real big sobs and possible wailing. No self-pitying blubbering) and long calls on the phone to patient friends who just listen and don’t give advice.
Allow time to process and heal – and cry. It’s OK – it’s normal.
Step 7: Hold The Space
A peaceful route for divorce is not ‘fluffy’. It takes vision, guts and determination. But every time you look at your children, or wider family and those affected by your divorce on all kinds of levels – it will be worth it for them.
And one day you will wake up to realise that you saved at least £65,000 by not fighting it out in court, and you have the skill to negotiate with your Ex on an ongoing basis, because whatever water may be under that bridge as far as you are both concerned, you made it through without destroying the last shreds of mutual dignity and potential for respect that lies ahead of you.
And what’s the biggest gun in your divorce arsenal to help you ‘hold the space’ for a more peaceful divorce?
Suzy Miller is a Divorce Strategist who helps to prepare divorcing clients for a more peaceful journey through divorce. Suzy has collaborated with the MOJ in promoting dispute resolution, she is an affiliate member of the Family Mediators’ Association, has written for the Daily Mail and been featured in many national magazines and appeared on BBC Breakfast TV, Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and C5’s The Vanessa Show.
Free Divorce Resources are available for download at www.BestWayToDivorce.co.uk
“It doesn’t have to be like this, David” I said to my new, overwrought client who was desperately scanning through his emails for the details of the expensive, litigious, “big gun” London solicitor that his friend had recommended.
“It’ll make this situation even harder for you, and cost a fortune… why not work with a mediator?”
At the time, David was too upset to even open the post after the recent departure of his wife. But over the ensuing weeks, as we worked through each situation, letter and piece of paperwork and a degree of calm and control returned to his life, we talked through the options.
The fear receded as each admin hurdle was overcome and the previously terrifying mountain of problems and paperwork was brought into line. Letters were written and payment plans agreed, and once David realised that he was not powerless in every aspect of his life he began to see that a big fight and having his day in court were unlikely to lead to any future satisfaction or benefit.
This is all part of my work as a Divorce PA. It is a unique role in which I hand-hold my clients through their divorce admin, helping them deal with all the many practical and psychological consequences of a divorce, and introducing them to relevant professionals if they need them.
Soon David also calmed down enough to realise that his previously envisaged angry-divorce route would leave an even more major dent in his finances than a mediation-based one.
His wife’s position changed too. At the beginning, overwhelmed with the enormity of her departure, she wouldn’t countenance seeing him, but over time she began to see that mediation might work.
She’s now agreed to shuttle mediation – the first session is booked and I’m hopeful that after a few of those sessions they’ll both conclude that the mediator offers a safe space for both of them and will be able to progress to being in the room together with the mediator to streamline their progress to a fairly agreed conclusion.
For me, the satisfaction in seeing the transformation in my client from fear and overwhelm to focus and direction was enormous. And knowing that I had been able to offer a different, constructive, and impartial perspective on his predicament and the options available to support him through this change in his life was a very real bonus.
Local Divorce Expert Supports Child-Centered Divorce Month
in January With Advice, Support and Resources
For Parents Coping With Divorce
Does Divorce Scar Children – Or Do Poor Parenting Choices Do the Damage?
Forest Row, East Sussex: That’s the question Suzy Miller has been answering along with Rosalind Sedacca, who for the past decade as Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, has been campaigning for children to become the focus of divorce, instead of parents fighting over the finances.
Based in East Sussex, but providing UK-wide access to Dispute Resolution professionals, Suzy speaks out for children of divorce. She helps parents understand how divorce affects children, connecting them to parenting experts, so they avoid mistakes and make better post-divorce parenting decisions.
To commemorate International Child-Centered Divorce Month the entire month of January is devoted to alerting parents about crucial single parenting and co-parenting issues to safeguard the wellbeing of their children during and long after a separation or divorce.
Divorce solicitors, mediators, therapists, financial planners, coaches and parenting experts provide complimentary educational material for parents, including ebooks, coaching services, videos, audio programs and other valuable resources. Parents who are contemplating divorce, divorcing or transitioning after divorce can access this material at a special website available throughout January: http://www.divorcedparentsupport.com/ebook.
Parents will also find listings of free workshops, expert interviews and other special events during January on the Events Calendar at the same website.
Divorce Strategist Suzy Miller will be providing complimentary access to her Best Way To Divorce Infographic and video on how to get started with a peaceful DIY or Self-Managed divorce.
“My children’s father had left and I was terrified at how I was going to survive financially – and emotionally,” Miller explains. “I had no idea what to do next or how to handle the situation. Since then, I’ve mastered the art of being a ‘divorce strategist’ and helping others in a similar predicament to find a peaceful way through family change. I’ve collaborated with the Ministry Of Justice. I’ve been on BBC Breakfast TV and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. I’ve even written about a ‘good divorce’ for the Daily Mail.
I now guide divorcing individuals using my strategic approach so that they can discover everything they need to create a healthy divorce, including a tailored plan, access to options they currently may not know even exist, and introductions to some of the best experts in their fields to support them. I believe that peaceful divorce is possible but only when couples have the right access to the information and inspiration that they need – and putting the children first is definitely one of the key strategies they need to employ.”
Another example of the resources available, comes from Azmaira Maker, PhD, author of Family Changes, a book for young children explaining divorce, which is offered as a complimentary ebook: 10 Golden Rules Protecting Children From Divorce Tug-of-Wars. Maker says, “Parents wonder if there are any buffers to minimize the potentially debilitating effects of divorce. So I provide guidelines for parents and a voice for children through my book and tips.”
Rosalind Sedacca, who initiated Child-Centered Divorce Month, is Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents, the author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! She is also the host of the Divorced, Dating & Empowered Living radio show and podcast.
“Our purpose is education and mistake prevention.” Sedacca says. “We want to encourage respectful co-parenting, teach effective communication skills, and guide parents away from litigation and toward collaboration, and cooperative, mediated solutions whenever possible,”
During January, for International Child-Centered Divorce Month, parents and divorce professionals can access all the complimentary resources and special events taking place by visiting: http://www.divorcedparentsupport.com/ebook.
Suzy Miller is the UK’s unique ‘Alternative Divorce Guide’, A Divorce Strategist, Public Speaker and Trainer, featured on Radio 4 Women’s Hour, the Daily Mail and C5’s The Vanessa Show. Suzy shares free divorce resources at www.bestwaytodivorce.co.uk.
Phone on 07525 059 634
Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
The Voice of Child-Centered Divorce
561 742-3537/561 385-4205
Author: How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce?
Founder, Child-Centered Divorce Network
High Res Images Available On Request
Robert went through years of conflict in order to be able to see his children after a bitter divorce, and despite having to go to court on more than one occasion, mediation was what finally helped end those years of stress and misery.
Robert, his wife and the children all suffered physical and mental repercussions due to the stress, but Robert’s experience proves that even if one party insists on using the courts, if you can remain calm and focused, a healthy end result can be achieved, since it’s never too late to tap into using mediation.
In this podcast, Robert shares some of his story:
Robert is currently training to become a Mediator himself, and he supports other fathers via the national charity Families Need Fathers. Through his own experiences, and those of others he has supported via the Families Need Fathers helpline, Robert has noticed how little support there is from Government for parents.
“Essentially, it’s much better for all the family if parents work together for their children’s benefit rather than to work against each other in the courts. The best way to support children is for their parents to be supportive of each other. The problem is that immediately after separation it’s more likely separating parents will be feeling very sore and wanting to score ‘hits’ over the other rather than being in the mood for cooperation!
Loss of communication, and therefore trust (or vice versa), is often the reason relationships fail. For effective collaboration post family breakdown it is essential to rebuild that communication and trust. Mediators are there to facilitate that process and play an essential part in helping children of broken families escape relatively unscathed by their parent’s misfortunes. There does have to be a will for success on both sides for mediation to be effective though, and this can be very hard to achieve.
A great proportion of parents in broken families come from broken families themselves, and so it goes on through generation to generation. One parent I spoke to said he’d been stopped seeing his children after he’d stuffed a bar of soap in his son’s mouth when he was being naughty – just as his parents did to him as a child. All he wanted to do now was to learn to be a good parent, but parenting courses offered were so expensive there was no chance he could afford them. Lots of government education advertising on what we should eat and drink, smoking etc, but not a lot on the importance of good parenting. Children learn parenting skills from their parents, so if their parents are lacking, generally speaking, their children will be as well.”
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 on this, 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?
“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
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
For a FREE 30 minute no obligation Introduction Call contact Karen on:
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.
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 www.bestwaytodivorce.co.uk
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.
In this short podcast I explain why you need to be careful about who you get your advice from when divorcing.
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
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.
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?
“Peace is my weapon of choice”
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 Suzy@StartingOverShow.com.
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.
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.”
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: www.cmpfinancial.co.uk)
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.
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
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 www.hitched.co.uk, accessed 30 May 2017
2 Office for National Statistics, November 2015
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.
or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
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 www.sjp.co.uk/products. The ‘St. James’s Place Partnership’ and the title ‘Partner Practice’ are marketing terms used to describe St. James’s Place representatives.
Is a peaceful divorce possible when there has been infidelity?
Divorce Strategist and Public Speaker Suzy Miller
I have collaborated with the MOJ in promoting dispute resolution, am an affiliate member of the Family Mediators’ Association, have written for the Daily Mail and been featured in many national magazines and appeared on BBC Breakfast TV, Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and C5’s The Vanessa Show.
I am independent – I am not a lawyer, not a mediator – but I know who you need to talk to when divorcing to stay on a peaceful path, and when is the best time to talk to them.
I’m your ‘travel guide’ through divorce – helping you to create your own Divorce Strategy.
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.
“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.”
“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.
“The common mistakes people make when it comes to divorcing and the financial planning side of things is for one, they don’t like to talk to someone like myself, because they’ve not had to do it before, they feel that they can deal with it on their own, they feel that they know all the ins and outs of the financial situation, or they’ve just relied on the lawyer to tell them everything.
And certainly with a lawyer, or even if it gets to the scenario of a judge getting involved, they don’t necessarily know the financial implications of things, certainly for the future as well as the right-now. So to talk to someone like myself will then give you the better understanding of what your options are, and really drill down to what the assets are.
Certainly with couples, we don’t always discuss everything with our partners. If you haven’t been totally honest about what you’ve got, to open it up at the beginning of everything, it makes it clearer for both parties. Because if anything has been hidden, it will come out eventually, and the implications can be a lot worse than if we’ve discussed it at the beginning.
Certainly, with the complications of when you split, you have your separate homes, husband and wife now living apart, but you still have the children growing up. Going through school and university, all these fees and costs will change in the future – and we’ve found this, with my husband and I. His daughter from a previous marriage is now twenty, his son seventeen. And there is always the thought that, if his son goes to university, how is that going to be funded? Are those costs we’ve got to look at? Will his ex-wife be involved?
These are important things to discuss and consider from the outset. It’s not necessarily the case that you will have to put something in place, but it’s having those discussions early on in case you do.
Certainly, protecting things like maintenance could be important to you, because if anything happens to the partner that’s paying maintenance, and that maintenance stops, how would you keep going moving forward? So does there need to be a protection plan in place that will then pay out a lump sum to cover the loss of maintenance or an income protection that will cover the income that will be lost?
So it’s important to look at the whole situation and to try to make sure that you think about as much as you can – we’re not going to cover everything but we do try! Certainly from my point of view, and the personal experiences that I’ve had, these help me look at those situations in a bit more detail, and helps me to pass my experience onto you.
There’s no obligation to you for me to sit down with you and run through your situation, having a look at your financial needs. I prefer to do it face to face, but it can be a telephone call initially if you wanted to, but if you’re quite happy to meet me we can sit down for a coffee and a chat wherever you would like that to be. If you would feel more comfortable in your own home, that’s fine. If you would prefer to meet in a cafe because you’re unsure of who I am and what I do, then that’s also Ok.
After having that initial meeting, you will come away from it being more aware of what your rights are, what financial situations we can look at, how we can improve the situation for you. But also you’ll have confidence in what your future can look like.
I have clients who come to me who are concerned about talking to me because they are thinking – “I haven’t got any ‘wealth’.” It’s not all about the ‘wealth’. We discuss anything – even a debt situation, different options you can have, giving you the information so that you know what your options are. Giving you the confidence to know everything’s not as bad as you think it is. Knowing you’ve got the support there to get through the situation. And certainly, if it is things like debt, it’s knowing how we can deal with it.
Because a lot of people have debts there but are not necessarily dealing with it in the right way that will make them financially better off in the future.
So it’s just sitting down and discussing the whole situation, and some of it can be that you’ve got money sitting in the bank and you’re just leaving it there because you’re scared of looking at any other options. So knowing what the options are, just gives you more confidence when you come away from the meeting. So it’s really important to speak to someone like myself about those options.
Generally, the experience I’ve had from all of my clients in the past is that it’s a weight lifted off their shoulders. Even if we don’t come to a solution straight away, it’s just the fact that you’ve had someone to talk to, someone that you can open up to about it being a financial concern to you, perhaps you don’t really know what you’re able to do about it. For me to just sit down and understand what you’re going through, just takes that burden off your shoulders.”
The first meeting is a no obligation financial review
Paula Ryan DipPFS
Paula Ryan Wealth Management
Tel: 01293 553297
Mobile: 07841 342387
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 www.sjp.co.uk/products. The ‘St. James’s Place Partnership’ and the titles ‘Partner’ and ‘Partner Practice’ are marketing terms used to describe St. James’s Place representatives.