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.
“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.