The end of a relationship can be one of the most stressful things that someone will go through in their lifetime. Everyone’s circumstances are different, not only in terms of how they feel about the relationship ending, but also in terms of their priorities moving forward and how quickly they feel able to rebuild and move on.
Our work at Maguire Family Law centres on dealing with issues surrounding relationship breakdown and divorce. With that, comes the experience of knowing those steps that can work well and have a positive impact on the ending of the relationship and others actions which can create long-lasting, unintended consequences.
The following are just a few of the observations we would make as to how to move forward positively from a separation or divorce.
Think of the children
Anyone who has separated with children will know how hard it is to break the news. If you can, try to talk to your ex about how you are going to go about telling the children. In particular, think about whether you are going to tell them together or separately, whether you are both going to talk to them or just one of you and importantly, what are you going to say?
If your partner has had an affair, is it really in their best interests to tell them the details? If your children have got important exams coming up, do you wait a while to let them focus on those first? Equally, you need to be alive to the fact that children are intelligent and can sense when something isn’t quite right. Are you shielding them from the truth when perhaps being honest with them might help them to understand?
Think of things from your child’s perspective and try to anticipate their questions – ‘do you not like Daddy anymore?’, ‘will I not see Mummy anymore?’, ‘where will the rabbit live?’, ‘where will I live?’, ‘will I have to tell my friends?’. Having an idea of what you are going to say before you inform your children, will help you to avoid coming across as unsettled or uncertain, something which they may pick up on , making them feel more anxious.
Where will you live?
People may not take legal advice immediately when they decide to separate and may instead focus on the practical arrangements of who lives where. This may be driven by external factors (i.e. one of you has a parent down the road with room for people to stay, the children need to be based at the family home because it’s on the school bus route), but it may also be the case that there’s no clear answer about what’s best. You and your ex need to talk about who is going to stay in the family home and what this means practically in terms of accommodation for the other person, paying bills, arrangements for the children etc.
The long-term legal position regarding the family home is very different if you are married as opposed to just cohabiting. Realistically, you should take legal advice as soon as possible upon separation, even if it’s just to secure the peace of mind that one course of action now isn’t going to have any damaging consequences later.
Make a new will
You might want to consider making a new will, or a will in the first place if you don’t already have one. Legal advice on these issues would be provided by a Private Client Solicitor (who deals with wills, probate and estate issues). This is not something we specialise in at Maguire Family Law, but we can certainly point you in the right direction of specialist in this area.
It is important to understand what your present position means and what the consequences would be for you in your individual circumstances. If it’s a case that the house would automatically belong to your ex if you died, then is this something you would want? For some parents, they know that this would provide long term certainty for their children and they would be ok for this to happen; for others this would be the last thing that they would want to occur.
Look after yourself
Although this is perhaps the least ‘legal’ of all of our suggestions, it is the one which is likely to have the most impact on how you move forward.
From our perspective as family law solicitors, it is vital that our clients are able to give us instructions; and that we have the confidence that they are making fully informed decisions that they will be able to live with tomorrow, next week and in the long term.
We always suggest that clients consider the full range of support to them. For some, an informal chat with a trusted friend may be enough to get things off your chest. For others, some additional professional input may be what’s needed, perhaps from a GP or counsellor.
We see our role as very much part of a team who are there to support you, where each person draws on their own experience, whether that’s having known you for 20 years, having particular medical qualifications or, in our case, specialising in family law.
See a solicitor
It is always advisable to take legal advice as soon as possible, whether you are married or not. Prevention is always better than cure and taking advice straight away can help you make the right choices about what steps you take, bearing in mind the legal impact of those choices.
Here at Maguire Family Law, we are specialists in dealing with separation, divorce and matters relating to your children. We are sensitive to each situation and fully appreciate that no breakup is the same. If you are separating and are looking for tailored and personal advice, contact us today on 01625 544650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.