Our family team here at Graysons is known for providing high quality, no-nonsense legal advice when people are separating or divorcing, but we recognise that sometimes you just want to know what you can do next. Whilst we understand that one size doesn’t fit all situations, here we offer some tips in respect of practical steps that you may wish to take in the early days of your separation.
- Make a note of the date that you separated.For some, this will be ingrained in their memory, but for others who have had various periods of separation, this can be more of a blur. Try to identify the date when you both agreed the relationship was over, even if you actually remained in the same house after that date. The date of separation will be amongst one of the first questions various agencies and solicitors will ask.
- If children are involved, think about how you are going to explain the separation to them. Try to discuss the interim care arrangements, such as will you both continue to do this and will one person have specific roles, for example, collection and return from school/nursery?It is much better if you can agree this between you, but if you can’t, seek early legal advice and avoid exposing the children to conflict. If there are concerns surrounding harm to the children or domestic violence you should also seek early legal advice.
- If possible, try to think about practicalities.When a relationship comes to an end, there are a number of things to consider: children, pets, the house, its contents, sharing of income, payment of bills, use of banks accounts and so on. Make a list of what you need to resolve and try to address each aspect individually. Again, it can be much easier if you can discuss this together, but if not, you could consider agreeing a channel of communication that works for you, such as email. The aim is to try to agree a “holding position” between you until you can finalise the long-term arrangements. For example, how is the mortgage or rent going to be paid, are you both going to stay in the same house whilst the matters are resolved or, is one person going to move out? Remember, the initial arrangements may not be your ideal solution, but they are supposed to be interim, at least until you obtain some legal advice (if you haven’t already) and decide what you would like to happen long term. It may be helpful for you to seek advice before the separation is finalised or very shortly after.
- Think about going to mediation.You can self-refer to mediation and this can be a useful forum, in the right circumstances, to try to avoid disputes. The mediation provider will guide you through the options and help you to discuss matters that are in dispute; this could be finances or matters surrounding children. If you manage to reach an agreement in mediation, this can then usually be put into a legally binding document that a solicitor can help you with. You can also obtain legal advice alongside mediation. The mediator cannot give you legal advice. You would both need separate legal advice.
These suggestions may help you to sort out some aspects of your separation, but if you feel that you need legal advice, for example you want a separation agreement, or you are married or in a civil partnership and wish to move on to divorce or dissolution of that civil partnership, contact our experts now. We will arrange a meeting in which we can discuss your individual circumstances and offer advice on your options.
Author: Bradie Pell, partner and head of family department.