Contemplating separation? There are a number of personal and financial decisions that you will be faced with, the decision upon which might dictate whether you are able to separate with the least amount of conflict and argument which in turn might lead to an early settlement of issues going forward or whether you become embroiled in extended and costly solicitor representation and court proceedings:
- Put the children first. Where ever possible, shield them from the arguments between you and your partner, do not expose them to conflict or discuss with them issues that face you and your partner. There is no benefit to them in doing this and it potentially damages them. Do not denigrate your partner to them or in front of them. Again, it can damage them.
- If you separate and there are no risk issues, make the children available to see your partner irrespective of your own views upon him or her. Each parents is an important ‘pillar’ in any child’s life and they need to be able to rely on that pillar and know it’s there for them going forward
- Consider any joint financial arrangements e.g. joint mortgages, credit cards or other loan facilities and ensure they are adequately safeguarded so that neither party can abuse them. For example, if there is a line of credit on a mortgage, discuss with the bank limiting or freezing it if needs be. Consider the effect such a limit or freeze might have on appropriate expenses eg standing orders and direct debits that need to be paid.
- Consider the effect of any ‘draw down’ that you yourself might be tempted to make? Will this be the catalyst to contested proceedings where other wise a negotiated or mediated settlement might have been available.
- If you are unsure, get advice, good advice. Friends and acquaintances might give you an accountant of their experiences or ‘advice received’ from their solicitor. Be aware that this advice should have been directly tailored to that person’s individual circumstances, circumstances that might not be your own. Despite best intentions, the ‘advice’ might be relayed inaccurately or might have been misunderstood. It might never have been given.
Sensible decisions based on good advice leading upto or at separation might be the difference between a negotiated settlement at an early stage that benefits all parties or lengthy court battles that seem to benefit neither party.