The Big Mistakes Men Make When Divorcing
What are the key classic errors men often make and how to avoid them
Sussex-based family lawyer Laura Sherlock 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. Laura 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.”
As a court advocate, as well as being a family lawyer and mediator, Laura 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 Laura provides that in her role representing parties.
“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. Our jobs as lawyers is to identify the most appropriate to the client’s circumstances, advise on the merits and disadvantages to each and then support and represent them throughout.
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.
Because our team are focussed on dispute resolution, we often each carry out different roles and we’re therefore really fortunate to be able to offer a full spectrum of Family services. We offer initial free 30 minute 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. This diagnostic interview means that the client remains free to then choose any of these services from us, be it as lawyers and court or arbitration advocates, mediators or for collaborative law. Alternatively, they are under no obligation to instruct us.”
Money can often be at the root of fear-based behavior – 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
Laura believes in supporting her client’s needs by giving them access early on to relevant professionals who can help them.
Professionals such as Chartered Financial Planner Sam Whybrow, who is experienced in supporting clients through divorce. Sam is one of only a few UK Financial Advisers to be a Chartered Financial Planner, Certified Financial Planner & also a Registered Life Planner®.
Sam knows that no divorce is the same:
“I am uniquely qualified to work with people to give them every possibility of achieving their most passionate life goals. Working with clients and alongside their family lawyers, together we ensure that every financial decision is clearly thought out, financially sound & meaningful.
Planning how my clients want to live their life & combining this with financial acumen, before talking financial settlements or products, is invaluable for them making smarter use of their money as it stress tests the likely effect of decisions before they are made.
My skills help clients to navigate their way through most financial decisions and are vitally important during periods of change in peoples lives such as:
- before, during & after divorce
- selling or buying a business or home
- retirement, ill health, later life or when accumulating, preserving or spending wealth.
Equally my skills help clients when they are not experiencing such change. Planning one’s finances before events happen often means better client outcomes, increased clarity, and reduced stress levels.
Many divorcing people are unaware they can be held jointly responsible for all debts – even those in their partner’s name. This can impact the credit rating of the spouse who hasn’t been the one to run up the debts. Another issue for many men around divorce 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.”
Laura actively connects with potential referrers like Sam 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.”
Laura Sherlock is a Family Lawyer at Stephen Rimmer LLP (Chartered Legal Executive Advocate) and a Family Mediator. As a lawyer, she predominantly advises couples who are separating or considering, cohabitants, spouses and civil partners.
Laura is also a Resolution member which means she is supportive of parties reaching workable solutions, and helping them get there in the most time, emotionally and cost-efficient way.
Laura Sherlock offers a no-obligation conversation. Contact her by email or phone:
Sam Whybrow offers 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 Sam now on 07563529918
to arrange a time to talk