It’s not always the most wonderful time of the year

Following the busy festive period many people find themselves simply unable to continue in an unhappy marriage or relationship. Undoubtedly every year there is a spike in divorce enquiries in early January. Last year, 8th January was dubbed ‘Divorce Day’ by some sections of the media.

Sadly, the estimated percentage of marriages ending in divorce now stands at 42%, with around half of those divorces expected to occur in the first 10 years of marriage (Release from the Office of National Statistics 26th September 2018).

It may be that considering counselling with organisations such as Relate could be the first port of call, however one or both of the parties to a relationship are often unable or indeed unwilling to consider this and divorce and/or separation is inevitable. Should you find yourself in such a situation, help is at hand and you should not feel alone during these undoubtedly difficult times.

If there are issues regarding children or financial matters to resolve then in the first instance a referral can be made to mediation. This is the process of trying to resolve future arrangements with the help of a neutral mediator who will seek to assist parties in reaching their own agreements amicably.

People are often filled with dread at the prospect of seeking legal advice regarding such personal issues but this should not be a distressing experience. When considering legal advice then ideally you should look for a lawyer who is a member of Resolution. Resolution are a national organisation of family lawyers and other legal professionals whose members follow a code of practice that promotes a non-confrontational approach to family problems. Solutions that consider the needs of the whole family, especially the children, are particularly encouraged.

Further to this there is also the option of both parties appointing a Collaborative Lawyer. Under this process each person appoints their own Collaboratively trained lawyer and the parties will then meet together to try to resolve the issues at hand. There will also be the opportunity to work with an independent financial adviser, children specialist or accountant to focus on the particular issues such as matrimonial finances and assets, maintenance for the children and arrangements for the children. All such professionals make up a collaborative team and sign an agreement which commits to trying to resolve the issues without going to court and prevents any of the parties representing you in court if the collaborative process breaks down. This ensures all parties are committed to finding focused solutions by way of amicable agreement rather than through length and often costly court proceedings.

In summary, divorce/separation doesn’t have to be the very stressful process that people so often envisage. If you find yourself in a situation whereby the relationship is at end then always consider contacting lawyers who are solution focused. Divorce and separation don’t always have to end with a costly and protracted court case which can have lasting implications both financially and emotionally for all concerned. Ensure that you have the right team on your side from the outset to give yourself the best outcome.

Sarah Reid is a trained and experienced Collaborative lawyer and a member of Resolution. For further enquiries please call the family team on 0191 5670465.

The original article is in the January 2019 addition of the Northern Insight Magazine

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