A separation can be incredibly painful and stressful. It is important that you have support throughout the process. On this website you will find information about choosing the right approach for you and your family, some guidance as to the law affecting your separation and links to other organisations that can provide emotional support and life coaching.

Many people are reluctant to get legal advice on separation because they worry about the cost. A lot of free information is provided in these pages for you to consider before deciding whether you need further assistance. Every page has an enquiry form - please use it! What is worrying you? Can I help resolve a concern? Ask me your questions and I will respond by email with as much information as I can.

It can be difficult deciding whether your relationship has ended. You will have memories of happier times and you may be hoping that things will get better. Perhaps you are staying together for the sake of the children, although this may not actually be the best thing for them if you and your partner are unhappy or the relationship can be violent.

Do not expect that getting a divorce is going to be easy or that it will solve all your problems! Divorce is hard: emotionally difficult, time-consuming and can be quite expensive financially.

Don’t rush into the decision to separate or divorce. Try not to shout "I want a divorce!" in the middle of an argument. Even if you've already done that, try talking things through calmly with your partner. Give your partner time to catch up with events - it isn't often that both parties are ready to end a relationship at the same time. You may find counselling helpful, either on a one-to-one basis to consider how you feel and what you're hoping for. It may be useful to attend counselling with your partner either to help both of you come to terms with the breakdown or to help save your relationship if that is possible. The counsellor will be objective about your relationship and what your options are so you can make a more informed decision and make a start on sorting out any problems within your family.

Make sure you still communicate with your partner. This is crucial whether the relationship is to continue or not. If a divorce, financial issues and arrangements for children need to be sorted, how you communicate with your partner will determine how easily those decisions are made. You will need to consider, together, how the children are to be told. Again, a counsellor can help you with any communication issues. Mediators, counsellors and members of Resolution can help resolve any disputes as amicably as possible. Links to various organisations offering support in the west midlands can be found on the Resources page.

Do I need a Solicitor?
People like the idea of do-it-yourself divorces because they are supposed to save both time and money. There are many divorce kits that can be bought in shops and online which are supposed to provide all the documents and knowledge you need to obtain a divorce. Unfortunately, such kits have led to people making mistakes that cost them far more than advice from a solicitor would have cost. In any event all the forms needed to obtain a divorce are available FREE on the Justice website - links to the forms are set out in my Divorce Procedure Guidance page. These forms will be accepted by a divorce court but they’re not tailored to you or your circumstances and the no legal advice is provided with the package to protect you. I have yet to see a kit that deals with all the financial implications of a divorce or advices on resolving a dispute about where children will live. The marriage may well be brought to an end for people using the package but it doesn't bring and end all the obligations they have to each other.

It would be a good idea to have at least one meeting with a solicitor to determine what matters need to be dealt with. If you choose to deal with some or all of them yourself, at least you have a checklist of things to consider.

Get Divorganised!
If you are planning to meet with a solicitor to discuss your options, try to prepare a brief summary of your circumstances. Perhaps make a short list of questions you want to ask. This is a stressful time for you and you are bound to forget something you wanted to ask. Feel free to write notes when you are given the answers.

The following documents are likely to be needed at some stage within divorce proceedings or associated financial matters. Start compiling them in a folder so they are to hand when needed.

• Your ID - something photographic if possible together with a utility bill or bank statement
• Your marriage certificate. If this has been lost, check out our Who can help section for details on how to obtain a copy.
• Wage slips (at least three months) and latest P60
• An estimate of the value of your properties and mortgages/loans secured on them
• Details of any other assets including a transfer value for your pensions
• List your debts if you have any and include credit and store card details
• Try to give a snapshot of you current outgoings - it will be useful for you to have a budget and it shows your solicitor what things you need
• Copies of any correspondence received.

Once you've made the decision to divorce, the family home can be a very tense and emotionally charged environment. You might want your partner to leave the family home or to leave yourself. Ask yourself:

• Do either you or your partner have another place you can stay? It will have to meet your needs and your children’s needs. Perhaps friends or family can help for a while, although it is probably best to find somewhere that will be relatively permanent rather than moving from place to place, especially if children are with you. Renting a property might be better if you can afford to do so.

• Would moving out be best for the children? You should try to have as little upheaval in their lives as possible. Can you remain close to their school, friends and childcare? Can you remain close to your workplace and your support network, such as friends and family?

• Are you safe staying in the family home? If you are in an abusive relationship, safety for yourself and your children should be a major concern. Where appropriate, you may wish to apply to the local court for an occupation order, which requires your partner to leave the property and allow you to remain there unmolested. If you believe it is necessary to apply for such an order, you should seek specialist legal advice immediately.

• What are your long term plans for the property? Do you want to remain in the family home in the future? Can you afford to maintain it? Moving out wont prevent you having the property as part of a financial settlement but it might make negotiation or court applications more difficult.

You should consider further advice in the Finances section.

It is best if you and your spouse can tell your children about your separation together. This will help show them that, even though your marriage may be ending, you can cooperate as their parents and that you will both still be fully involved in their lives. They need to know that they still have a family — just a different kind of family now. You and your partner should get your story straight before you break the news to your children. Figure out what you are going to say about your separation so that you don't contradict each another or argue while you talk with your kids.

Unfortunately, this wont be possible for all of you. That means that you and the other parent will have separate conversations with your children. Even so, try to agree exactly what you will tell them otherwise you risk conflicting messages which will only cause confusion for the children.

Further practical suggestions, including some Do's and Don't's are on my pages relating to Children and you may wish to look through the extra advice on those pages.

Do you have any questions?

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