28th Nov 2016

The Good Divorce

By Gillian Bishop

As Resolution launches Good Divorce Week, director Gillian Bishop examines how to achieve a good divorce.

How can there be such a thing as a good divorce? Surely all divorces are miserable and upsetting and everyone suffers? There are, no doubt, many people who are of that view from bitter first-hand experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to get divorced or separate whilst maintaining your integrity, dignity and, to a large extent, an “intact” family. So how is a good divorce even possible? Well, we think it is possible in many cases.

Here are our 6 pointers to achieving a good divorce:

  1. Dialogue: “Jaw Jaw not War War” goes the slogan but never a truer slogan was spoken. The more that you can discuss the issues between you and reach your own conclusions the better it will be for you both. And if speaking to your soon-to-be ex-partner sounds impossible then look for people who can help you to do that. Trusted family and friends can often provide the “ring-holding” role that you need and they usually have your best interests at heart. If they are not a realistic option for whatever reason then consider marital counselling. Marital counselling has a dual purpose. It’s less well known purpose is to provide a forum where couples can come to some understanding of why they are in the position they are in, which in turn can help them move on from it and separate well.
  2. Low conflict: There is always heartache surrounding a separation but that does not mean there is always conflict. It may seem trite but the lower the conflict the better the outcome for the couple from an emotional and psychological perspective. It may be with great sadness that you have come to the conclusion that your relationship as spouses or life partners is to end but you may still feel a degree of affection for the other. Minimising the conflict between you when it comes to resolving financial or other issues will help to protect and preserve the enduring friendship.
  3. Putting your children first: If you have children you will want them to flourish. A divorce or separation can often feel like a place where children cannot flourish. However, if you and your partner can congregate round your shared desire to have your children flourish, and make decisions with that joint goal in mind, it becomes easier to achieve. All the research into the effect of divorce and separation on children shows that it is not their parents’ parting that causes the damage but the degree to which the parents are in conflict. The more the parents argue and fight – whether about the children or otherwise – the worse it will be for the children. It won’t be great for you either.
  4. Sensible choice of lawyers: Lawyers continue to get a bad press where divorce is concerned and in some cases that bad press is justified. However, those family lawyers who are members of Resolution sign up to a Code of Practice which sets as one of its goals a positive intent to find solutions to family law issues which do the least damage to the family unit. Resolution’s Code of Practice can be found on its website www.resolution.org.uk. All lawyers at Family Law in Partnership are members of Resolution. Sometimes, your partner’s lawyer will suggest the names of lawyers in other firms with whom they work well as people whom you might instruct to represent you. Think hard and carefully before dismissing this idea and these choices. If your respective lawyers work well together and trust & respect each other, the prospects of having a good divorce increase substantially. It will probably make it cheaper too.
  5. Options that don’t involve the court: Sadly many family law cases that go to court hit the headlines and also make better TV on programmes such as EastEnders. The majority of people though would run a mile from that sort of experience unless they needed to protect themselves from harm. These days there are many alternatives to court which can provide an altogether more benign setting for resolving the issues between you. Mediation, collaborative practice, round table and solicitor negotiations are just some of the available options. Even if you do need a third party to make decisions on your behalf the out of court options of Private FDRs, early neutral evaluation or arbitration are all more humane alternatives which in turn permit a more dignified, less hostile closure.
  6. Support yourself: Getting divorced or separating can feel very lonely at times. It is important then to be able to call on family, friends or professional therapists to help you cope and get through the difficulties that lie ahead. An objective ear can be a life saver and changer at these times. There are many types of therapy available and we do not attempt to list them all here. But a first port of call could be our in-house counsellor, Ruth Smallacombe, who has many years of experience in helping couples and individuals in this situation and who is a founder member of Family Law in Partnership. You might also want to learn from the experiences of others who have been through a divorce or separation. Our Divorce Diaries website has advice and tips about how to survive divorce and separation from over 25 of our former clients who have shared their experiences in the hope of helping others to achieve a good divorce.

Here at Family Law in Partnership we strive where possible to help our clients have a good divorce so that they can move on, separated but intact. We offer our clients all of the process options referred to above as well as robust litigation, if required. We pride ourselves in helping our clients achieve a good divorce by making the right choices for them and their families. We also provide the therapeutic support that families need through our family support services: https://flip.co.uk/area/family-support-services/. For more information about how we can help you to a good divorce, please contact any of our lawyers on 020 7420 5000 or by email at hello@flip.co.uk.

Gillian Bishop is a director of Family Law in Partnership. She is a founding member of the firm, setting it up in 1995 to provide a distinctive client focused family law service. As an experienced family lawyer, Gillian wanted to create a firm for clients looking for a holistic approach to their divorce. Gillian’s aim is to keep the family unit as amicably cohesive as possible. Gillian focuses on all aspects of divorce and family law, in particular in the financial repercussions of relationship breakdown and complex private law children matters. Her work frequently has an international perspective, often involving tax and trust implications, substantial assets or incomes. A trained mediator, arbitrator (children issues) and collaborative lawyer, Gillian offers clients a range of dispute resolution options – litigation, solicitor led negotiation, mediation, children law arbitration and collaborative law – to best meet their needs. To find out more about Gillian, take a look at her website profile or contact Gillian on E: gb@flip.co.uk or T: 020 7420 5000.