Seven New Year resolutions for divorcing couples

It is that time again when we are supposed to resolve to take steps to make our lives better in the year ahead.

And if you are in the middle of, or about to start, divorce proceedings then there are certainly some steps that you can take to make things better, or at least less difficult.

1. Always put the children first

The first, and most important, of these resolutions.

If you have dependent children then it is essential that you put their welfare first in everything you do in connection with the divorce. The divorce will be traumatic enough for them, without you making things worse.

Obviously, the welfare of the children must be foremost in sorting out arrangements about where they will live and, if with one parent, what contact the other parent will have (always think about what is best for them, not what you want).

But it also applies to sorting out finances and property on divorce, where arrangements must be tailored to the needs of the children.

And remember that whatever has to be sorted out, bitter arguments between their parents will have serious adverse effects upon the children.

2. Look to the future, not the past

Divorce obviously often follows distressing events within the marriage, and it can be all too easy to get bogged down with efforts to make your spouse pay for what they have done in the past.

But there is nothing that can be done to change the past, and in most cases the court is unlikely to be interested in the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage.

Sorting out a divorce is not about seeking redress for past events, but about making arrangements for the future. You should therefore concentrate on the future, not on the past.

3. Don’t try to hide assets

Often, one party to the marriage will have significantly more financial assets than the other. They may be tempted to try to hide those assets, to prevent the other party receiving any of them in the divorce settlement.

But such action is likely to fail, and needless to say the court will take a very dim view of it.

The party hiding assets could end up with a worse settlement, and could even be penalised by being ordered to contribute towards the other party’s legal costs.

4. Make every reasonable effort to agree matters

This should go without saying.

If you can’t agree matters, including arrangements for children and finances, then you will have to ask the court to sort them out for you.

But court proceedings take a lot of time, are expensive, and can be extremely stressful. They should be avoided at all costs.

You should therefore make every reasonable effort to agree matters, if necessary using out of court dispute resolution, such as mediation.

5. Do what the court says

If you do find yourself in contested court proceedings, the court will require you to do certain things, for example make full disclosure of your means in financial remedy proceedings.

You may not want to comply with the court’s orders, but it is essential that you do so. Failure to comply will very likely result in you being ordered to pay the other party’s costs.

6. Take legal advice

We all know that legal advice costs money, but trying to save money by not taking advice is likely to be a false economy.

Without taking advice you could end up missing out on your entitlement, for example in relation to pensions.

You could also ensure that any proposed settlement is reasonable.

And good advice can save time and stress by ensuring that you do not pursue unreasonable expectations.

7. Follow your lawyer’s advice!

A lawyer will not always give their client the advice that the client wants to hear. Obviously there are times when a case will not go as the client wants, and a good lawyer must advise the client accordingly.

And a client receiving unwanted advice may be tempted to ignore it.

By all means seek a second opinion, but ignoring advice is likely to end in disaster. You must understand that a lawyer’s advice is given in the best interests of the client, whether the client wishes to hear it or not.

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