12th Aug 2020

How to achieve a constructive divorce

By Nicole Phillips

Achieving a constructive divorce : what do you need to do?

FLiP associate, Nicole Phillips, identifies the common features of the approach shared by couples who go on to achieve a constructive divorce.

In my work at a solicitor at Family Law in Partnership I have observed many couples who have achieved a constructive divorce. What common features do their separations have, which mean that their experience of divorce and separation is better than the average?

Relationship breakdown is hard. However, with a conscious commitment to adopting a constructive approach from all involved, the issues that flow from relationship breakdown can be resolved relatively smoothly, and the emotional and financial costs do not have to be crippling.

Common Features

  1. Recognising that relationship breakdown has emotional as well as legal repercussions, and that it is vital to tend to both

Achieving a constructive divorce is not an easy feat. It requires conscious effort from both parties from the beginning. Whilst the emotional aspects of relationship breakdown are highly relevant to the legal process, lawyers are not specifically trained to support the emotional health of others.

It is a common misconception that the raison d’être of relationship counsellors is to save marriages. In fact, relationship counsellors very often play an instrumental role in helping people to leave relationships constructively, for the future emotional health of the individual and their children. Attending to the emotional aspects of separation in a conscious and deliberate way can allow the legal process to run more smoothly and quickly.

Couples who recognise this and get the right support in place often fair best when it comes to navigating divorce and separation. This is why FLiP has a multidisciplinary team of family law specialists working alongside counsellors and mediators – we are one of only a handful of family law firms in London with this offering.

Find out more about our counselling and mediation services here  and here.

2. Thinking carefully about which lawyer to instruct

Unfortunately not all family lawyers adopt a constructive or child-centred approach to their work. There are some who take pride in adopting an ‘aggressive’ or ‘Rottweiler’ style, with a focus on court battles and reported cases.

Those who want to avoid spending the earth on legal fees recognise early on that they and their ex will be best served by instructing family lawyers who take a conciliatory and constructive approach. A constructive approach does not mean being weak or unassertive. Those couples who go on to achieve an ‘intelligent’ and constructive divorce recognise that the kind of lawyer who tries to deescalate, rather than inflame, relations between the couple, and narrow rather than widen areas of disagreement, will make all the difference to the path their divorce or separation takes.

You may want to take a look at our blog on what makes a good divorce lawyer. Read it here.

3. Focusing on the ‘bigger picture’ and the welfare of your children

The ending of a relationship is often an emotionally challenging, and at times overwhelming, experience. When in the midst of this whirlwind of uncertainty, it can be exceedingly hard to recognise which issues are relevant to the legal process. A good family lawyer will provide invaluable guidance on the points that are worth pursuing in legal, financial and emotional terms.

When it comes to finances, the family court is rarely interested in the behaviour that each person says has led to the marriage ending. Couples who are able to achieve a constructive or ‘intelligent’ divorce tend to recognise this and make sure that they put the welfare of their children at the forefront of their minds when reaching any decisions.

About the author:

Nicole Phillips is an associate at FLiP . Nicole’s aim is to lend a listening ear and navigate her clients through their divorce with dignity and sensitivity. Nicole strives to provide first rate legal guidance and clarity around different options whilst providing tactical and commercial advice and emotionally intelligent solutions.

At Family Law in Partnership we provide expert family law advice covering all aspects of relationship breakdown. We also have own in-house counsellor, Jo Harrison, who is happy to undertake any appointments via video conference or over the telephone. For further information on how we can help you, please contact any of the team on T: 020 7420 5000 or email us at E: hello@flip.co.uk.