Couples seek a divorce in such numbers that January has been dubbed ‘Divorce Month’ by the media.
According to Family Court statistics, 30,420 divorce petitions were filed in the period from January to March 2021, compared with 26,301 in the following quarter (April to June 2021).
Of course, there are many reasons why marriages break down. But there is one big reason why you’re more likely to file for divorce in January: Christmas.
The festive period can put a lot of strain on a relationship.
From spending long, tedious days watching repeats with the in-laws, to the constant pressure to be jolly, Christmas is often the final straw when a marriage is in trouble.
At the same time, couples may agree to bury the hatchet over the holidays, particularly if they have children. But, as soon as the Christmas decorations come down, one of them is serving the other with divorce papers.
So, if you’re thinking about getting divorced this January, here are some important things to consider:
1: Assess your financial situationOne of the main things to consider before filing for divorce is your financial situation.
As part of the divorce process, you’ll need to reach a financial settlement. This is an agreement between you and your ex-partner about how to separate your money and assets.
While the costs of divorce shouldn’t keep you in an unhappy marriage, it’s important to appreciate that your financial situation will change. For example, you’ll no longer have access to your ex-partner’s income, and you may have to sell your house.
Unless you have a prenuptial agreement in place, your assets are considered marital property that must be split equally.
Consider the property and investments you own together and how you might be able to divide them between you.
Don’t forget to include things like pensions, which are often overlooked but can make up an important part of a financial settlement, especially if one of you has given up work during the marriage.
You can prepare for life after divorce by budgeting how much money you’re likely to need each month.
Remember, if you have children, one of you may have to provide financial support to the other, depending on what living arrangements you decide upon.
2: Avoid playing the “blame game”Try to be understanding towards your ex.
Even if you hold them responsible for the breakdown if your marriage, remember that they’ll be hurting too.
Unfortunately, until no-fault divorce is introduced in April 2022, you’ll need to blame your spouse for causing the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of your relationship.
In practice, this usually involves accusing your spouse of unreasonable behaviour.
Of course, this can cause a lot of conflict. But you can make the divorce process more harmonious by agreeing with your ex in advance what reasons you’ll cite on the divorce petition.
You might need to compromise here, but it’s worth it to avoid getting into a slinging match with your ex.
Put the best interests of your children above any disagreement you’re having as a couple.
3: Do what’s best for your children
Wherever possible, it’s best for children to have a relationship with both parents, so you will need to try and come to an agreement about how their time should be divided.
You can avoid going to court if you can agree with your partner:
- Where your children will live
- How you’ll share parenting responsibilities
- How your children will be supported financially
Coming to an agreement privately with your ex will save you time and money, as well as reduce potential conflict.
But don’t worry if you can’t come to an agreement between yourselves. A legal professional, like a mediator, will be able to help you negotiate.
4: Get supportWhile it’s important to put your children first, make sure that you take care of yourself, too.
Lean on family and friends for support and, if necessary, speak to a professional such as a counsellor or a therapist.
Divorce is a stressful time and it’s important to look after your own mental health and wellbeing.
5: Seek legal adviceYou should seek legal advice as soon as possible if you’re thinking about getting divorced.
Although it may seem expensive, speaking with a legal professional will make it clear what your rights and options are.
And, if you decide to go through with the divorce, a legal adviser will help you to achieve the best possible settlement.
Getting legal advice doesn’t necessarily mean that your case will end up in court.
Alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation are available. These less combative options will often help you to reach an agreement in a less hostile way, and without spending as much money.
Take your time to find a legal adviser who understands your situation and what you’re hoping to achieve. Often, solicitors will offer a free, no-obligation initial phone call.
The Law Superstore connects you with family solicitors across England and Wales. Just type in a few details to compare prices and connect with professionals who’ll guide you through the divorce process.