New Year, New Start – What to consider when considering separation
For many, the New Year marks the beginning of a new chapter in life. For some this is a commitment to exercise more, eat healthier or learn a new hobby. For other however, this is the time when they finally make the difficult decision to separate.
It may be that the relationship hasn’t been working for a while and the holiday period was the final straw. It may be that a recent event has driven the change. Perhaps it has been put off in the current pandemic, but the time has come to act. Whatever your reasons, it is important to start on the right foot to work towards an amicable and smooth separation.
Early legal advice is a must if you are considering separation. An initial consultation with a legal adviser can help clear the uncertainty and give you guidance on your position. Some of the most common questions and worries we see are about where the parties will live, whether their partner will still have to support them and what the arrangements for the children will be. With the benefit of legal advice you will understand the process and approach the Court would take, which can ease your mind and give you confidence in your decisions.
At some point you will need to have the conversation with your partner. It may not be easy, but it is important this is done sooner rather than later to allow you both to process the separation. It can be difficult to sort the practicalities of separation when one party is still grieving the loss of the relationship, especially if the other party has been planning this for some time. Separating will happen much smoother when you are both in the right mindset and are focused on moving on with your lives. If parties can remain amicable, this can help facilitate negotiation and leads to quicker, cheaper and less stressful separations.
If you have children, they will undoubtedly be a large focus of the separation. For the children, this is going to be a huge change in their lives and it is important that both parents respect and appreciate this when making decisions. If you are able to make an agreement in respect of the children, you may wish to consider writing this in a formal parenting plan. This acts as a written record of how you have agreed to parent the children moving forward. It can contain agreements on where the children live and how their time is divided so they maintain their relationship with both parents, but also future important decisions such as how you will decide the children’s schooling and how you will act in the case of any medical requirements. As the parents, you are in the best position to make decisions as you will know what works for your family. Early preparation can help avoid disagreements at a later date or stressful and costly Court proceedings.
Be prepared for the long haul
Once you have decided to separate, there can be a feeling of wanting to “just get it done”. However, finalising your separation will take time. Court delays, preparing financial disclosure, negotiations and drafting of settlements takes time and it can be commonplace for a separation to take 6-12 months to fully conclude. Take each step one at a time – it is important that whatever you agree, the terms of your separation work for both parties moving forward.
Watson Thomas Solicitors have offices in Fleet, Guildford, Bracknell, Camberley, Farnborough and Woking.
Watson Thomas are a dedicated team of Family Lawyers who specialise in all aspects of family law. For advice about separation and divorce, please do get in touch.
Our staff can work from home and access all systems so even if all are required to self-isolate this will not affect the day-to-day running of your case. We can also hold appointments via telephone and video conferencing, as needs be, to ensure that your service is not interrupted.
If you would like to discuss your current situation with an expert family lawyer, please call us on 0800 488 0218.