April is Stress Awareness month, co-incidentally happening just as divorce laws in England and Wales are to be overhauled to enable a couple to end their marriage more easily and put an end to fault-based petitions.
It is hoped these changes will mean less acrimony and an end to the ‘blame game’. It also means that one partner cannot now refuse a divorce if the other one wants one.
However, even with these changes, while initiating divorce may indeed become simpler and faster, the actual process of separation will likely remain as stressful as ever for both parties
Separation and divorce are known to be two of life’s most stressful events, so this month it seems even more appropriate to give Shoosmiths top tips for reducing the stress in involved in a relationship breakdown.
Look after yourself
Some psychiatrists say that the emotional stages of relationship breakdown are the same as those experienced when someone close dies. The stages of grief can include shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Try and identify the emotional stages and understand that you may be experiencing feelings at different points in time to your partner and your children. Consider family therapy, counselling or seeking help from your GP.
Think before you post on social media - the ramifications of doing so are potentially far reaching. Give yourself time and space to reflect before reacting to something said or done.
Communicate over the arrangements for your children
Agree some consistency in discipline and approach between the two new homes and consider telling the children about your separation together. Plan for how your children are going to spend their time. Think ahead about who they are going to be with for special occasions like Christmas and birthdays and remember that the welfare of the children is paramount. If you are struggling to agree consider enrolling on a Separated Parents Information Programme or asking a mediator to help you.
Don’t go to war
Don’t ask friends and family to take sides and as hard as it sometimes can be don’t make derogatory comments about the other parent in front of the children. Presenting a united front will help them cope better with your change in circumstances.
Budget and take financial advice.
Prepare a budget and start a dialogue about how you can best set up and finance two homes. Communication on this reduces the prospect of a potentially costly and upsetting legal battle. Take financial advice to understand the ramifications of any financial settlement.
Obtain legal advice
A good lawyer will be able to help you manage expectations and offer practical and much needed legal expertise. At Shoosmiths we offer technical expertise combined with a holistic and practical approach which will help you implement the above tips. Some if not all of these tips might seem unrealistic at a time when life has become unrecognisable and the future is uncertain, but we shall work with you to improve an often difficult situation.
To discuss how Shoosmiths might be able to help you minimise the stress on relationship breakdown, please feel free to get in touch with our family team.