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New Year’s Resolutions for the (recently) separated

The New Year heralds a fresh start and for some that means living separately and considering divorce. Here, family solicitor Carol Dawe of Awdry Bailey & Douglas shares her tips for making a separation as painless as possible for all parties involved.

If you are dealing with separation this New Year, try not to worry. No one wants to be dealing with separation or divorce at any time of the year, but if things need to change the following resolutions can help you move forward.

1. Ensure that you put the needs of your children first
Any relationship breakdown is upsetting and particularly when there are children involved. You need to ensure that you agree with your partner what to say to the children and whether this can be done together. The children will be upset and will need to know that you both love them and that your role as a parent won’t change. If they struggle to comprehend what is happening there are agencies who can help and provide support. Most schools will also have excellent pastoral care to help the children during this difficult time.

2. Don’t put off getting good advice
When relationships break down everybody will give you advice and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and lost. You may also initially be concerned about the potential cost of legal advice.

Find a lawyer that offers a free initial consultation. When you are in the middle of so much change, just being able to talk to a friendly, experienced family lawyer can really help. They will talk you through all your options in plain English, offer practical, realistic advice and try to help you see a way ahead in these uncertain times.

If you decide to go ahead, think of the cost as a short-term expense for longer-term gain – particularly when looking at pensions. Financial agreements are very much based on your specific needs and it’s important that you take control of your future.

3. Stop and breathe
It’s very important that you have time to think about what has happened and to consider your next steps. Is there an opportunity to consider counselling and is it recognised that the relationship has come to an end? It’s very easy for things to be said that you may regret later. If you can, try and discuss interim arrangements to give you breathing space while you look at the bigger picture.

4. Be aware of your options
You need to have a clear idea as to the financial assets within the relationship to include income, capital, and pensions. You can also review your position ie. can you increase your hours at work to improve your mortgage position? What housing would meet your needs if you are having to sell the property? Are you entitled to benefits? How much does it cost to stay in the house? These are all factors which are particular to you and once you have a better idea, the future is less daunting.

5. Alternative Future
Lastly, although the relationship breakdown may have been unexpected, once you adopt the resolutions as noted above, this will make you feel that you have a say in your future and more importantly control.

Carol Dawe is a solicitor at the Royal Wootton Basset and Swindon offices of Awdry Bailey & Douglas, practising family law. 01793 853200

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