Juliet and her husband separated after almost 15 years of marriage. They had 3 young children aged 11, 9 and 6. Juliet and the children moved out, while her husband stayed in the family home. He was the sole income earner.
What I wish I’d known:
I wish I’d got legal advice from the outset about my rights over weekend contact – my ex husband insisted that the children stayed with him for the Sunday night of my weekend as well as the whole of his weekend. Things were very tense and it meant that my Sunday with the children would ‘end’ at around 3pm when the children began to think about going to stay with their dad. When I finally got the chance to ask someone with proper legal knowledge (about a year after we split up), they told me that the children and I had the right to an undisturbed weekend. Things became much less fraught once weekend contact was on a more even footing.
I wish I’d appointed a solicitor earlier, because the advice and support I got from Family Law in Partnership was really helpful and if it had come earlier it might have meant we avoided a long and difficult court battle. So I wish I’d researched it better, because I wanted a solicitor who would be constructive and not antagonistic and inadvertently I got the opposite before finding Family Law in Partnership. Where children are involved, and where there is high tension between the two parents, a good legal team can actually make things much better.
The low point:
Being told that I was going to have to go through a full court hearing in order to be able to move with the children to be close to my parents. My solicitor at the time had told me it was a clear cut case and that there was no way I would be required to go to a full court hearing, but she was wrong and it was absolutely devastating. I felt suicidal and in total despair. I had no money of my own and was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do it. My first solicitor (before I found Family Law in Partnership) and my ex-husband’s were both quite antagonistic and this made the process really difficult. I changed solicitors and came to Family Law in Partnership and, although finance was still quite a worry, their approach was much more constructive and just better, and helped pave the way for a better long-term relationship between me and my ex-husband. (The barristers they appointed for me were also brilliant, and it was one of them who advised me about my, and my children’s, contact rights.)
The certainty that I have done the right thing:
From the moment I left my husband, I knew it was the right thing. Our marriage was deeply unhappy and our children were suffering from it. Although my husband hated the fact I’d left him and I know he was scared he would lose the children, we now (seven years later) get on really well and I’m proud of how we’re co-parenting our kids.