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Is it possible to have an amicable separation?

Posted on 29th January 2020 in Family Law

Is it possible to have an amicable separation?

This is a question often asked by those about to embark upon separation from a partner or spouse.

We are happy to guide you through the process keeping things as amicable as possible.

There are many reasons why it is important to try and have an amicable separation. We have highlighted our top three below:

1. Children

If there are children, it is essential to try and remain on reasonable terms. You will remain a parent beyond the separation, so even if your personal relationship has broken down you will continue to co-parent long into the future. Any hostility, aggression, demeaning or disparaging behaviour towards the other parent will have implications for the emotional wellbeing of your children. Children are incredibly perceptive and while you may think they don’t know what is happening between you the chances are that they know a lot more than you think. In terms of talking to the children you both need to be giving the same message and not conflicting versions of what is happening. They need re-assurance that despite what is happening you both still love them just as much.

2. Cost

Separation can be an expensive time and the more difficult the relationship between you, the more expensive the process becomes. If you are able to talk to one another then you can save on much of the costs of solicitors and mediators. The more acrimonious matters become the more professional input is required in terms of court proceedings and solicitor costs.

3. Your emotional well-being 

When a personal relationship falters you need to look at where you are expending your emotional energy. Trying to get one over or taking things out on your partner is toxic and not going to help matters. You may feel hurt, sad, angry, relieved, happy or elated. Whatever the emotion, it is normal and will be part of the roller-coaster of emotions that you experience on this journey. What is often forgotten is that your partner may not be experiencing the same emotion at the same time as you, but they will inevitably experience all these emotions at some point. We often advise clients going through separation, where appropriate, to seek some form of therapeutic input, maintain good social networks and seek support from family members. This will help you focus on what is important, know that you are not alone and help you to move forward and not get stuck in past patterns of destructive behaviour. If you are able to maintain some sort of amicable relationship through the process of separation this will be emotionally beneficial to both of you.

As resolution practitioners we advise clients, where appropriate, on the importance of speaking to each other before proceedings begin so that their spouse isn’t taken by surprise, either as to the grounds upon which the petition is being issued or as to the costs involved.

There is a little way to go before “no fault” divorce becomes reality, and at the time of writing this article the bill continues its passage through the House of Lords and hasn’t yet reached the statute books. In the meantime, we need to look at whether the parties have been separated for a period of two years, if not, then we are probably going to have to look at petitioning for divorce on the basis of the other parties’ unreasonable behaviour. While this isn’t ideal in terms of keeping things amicable, if there is dialogue about the content of the petition it can help to keep things amicable. The ideal is to find a set of grounds which are acceptable to both parties and will allow matters to proceed on an undefended basis.

If you are contemplating separation or divorce please make an appointment with one of our experienced family lawyers to discuss how best to move forwards.

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