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Top tips to remember amidst a relationship breakdown

View profile for Charlotte Coyle
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Many of you may have noticed that your first day back at work this year coincided with the infamously dubbed ‘Divorce Day’ on 6 January.

In fact, January as a whole was declared “the divorce month” by the media, whereby those who experienced stress and conflict over the Christmas period have purportedly called a family lawyer to discuss ending their marriage with immediate effect.

Whilst this narrative is true for some, as we enter February many of those who have experienced a recent breakdown in their relationship are optimistic and genuinely want to reach an amicable split from their partner.

With the “no fault divorce bill” being revived once again by Parliament, it is becoming more common for couples wanting to separate on a mutual basis and go their separate ways without the need to ‘blame the other’. However, as it currently stands in England and Wales, the law dictates that if a couple have not been separated for 5 years or 2 years (with consent of the other party), then one of them must either chose adultery; desertion or unreasonable behaviour as the ‘fact’ they want to rely upon in support of their divorce. This often results in tensions running high and an increase in conflict between the couple, which may have been avoided in the first place.

The recent Netflix hit “A Marriage Story” by Noah Baumbach perfectly illustrates the emotional turmoil a family can go through when a marriage ends and how a couple interact with one another, their child and their lawyers. Similarly, the 1979 classic Kramer v Kramer demonstrates the cinematic account of a marital breakdown at that place in time and the chord which strikes most with the viewers in both films, is the inescapable reality that a breakdown in a relationship will affect everyone but in the end the family unit has to readjust and those within it need to find their new role and responsibilities as a result. 

However, this is easier said than done, especially when children are involved. Therefore, it is essential to get the right legal and financial advice early on to help get through the complexities of divorce and child arrangements (what is often referred to in film as “custody”).

Although every relationship and breakup is different, here are some top tips which can help in trying to navigate your way through, with children in tow, to the other side:

1. Stay Calm: Try not to place yourself in situations where tensions can easily run high or indeed raise topics such as finances when the moment is not right.  If these types of conversations are brought up by the other person, especially in front of the children, avoid them.

2. Be fair: If already separated and you have children overnight or over the holidays, try and facilitate indirect contact with the other parent, either by encouraging or instigating Facetime or phone calls . In terms of finances, make sure you disclose everything- it will only be a costly and lengthy exercise in the end for both of you-if you don’t!  

3. Step Back: Avoid texting the other in the height of emotion or as an immediate response to one they’ve sent you. Even posting online, think twice because once it’s out there…it’s out there.

4. Be inventive: depending on your current circumstances and your relationship with the other parent, you could try attending an event together such as parents evening, your child’s concert together or even buying one token Christmas/Birthday present from the both of you. This can encourage co-parenting and avoid unnecessary arguments. Don’t be afraid to break tradition.

And finally;

5.  Don’t let it consume you. There are professionals who are there to help you carry the burden and it is important to know that endings are not failures. Rather the opposite. You just have to listen to the right advice, take control and remain positive in the knowledge your life own story is taking a different path.

This guide is for general information and interest only and should not be relied upon as providing specific legal advice. If you require any further information about the issues raised in this article please contact the author or call 0207 404 0606 and ask to speak to your usual Goodman Derrick contact.