Divorce and separation can raise some difficult issues and may occur when people are at their most vulnerable. It can be a stressful time for everyone concerned.
If you are thinking of separating from your partner, you may be wondering what first steps you should take to navigate through this process.
In this article we set out some simple and actionable tips to make the process as constructive and cost effective as possible.
- Take specialist family law advice and take it early on - being informed means that you can make decisions which may avoid issues down the line and we can give practical tips to support you to progress matters quickly and sensibly.
- Always act in the children’s best interests – focus on your children and don’t speak negatively about your spouse in front of, in ear shot of, or to, your children.
- Obtain all relevant financial information for your personal and your joint finances – this includes bank statements, tax returns, Kiwisaver, superannuation, financial statements for any businesses. Providing this information to your lawyer means they can give you early informed advice.
- Keep a record of important details and dates – for example, any agreements you and your partner may reach, any significant financial expenditure post separation, and time spent with your children so that you can pass this information on to your lawyer.
- Be organised and take responsibility - this process can be overwhelming and it might be tempting to bury your head in the sand but that is not going to make the process any easier or quicker for you. Don’t be passive; be proactive and prepared to make informed decisions, even if you are not the initiator. The separation is likely to take less time, be less stressful, and cost less money if you take an active role in the process.
- Get support and be kind to yourself – no matter how isolated you may feel at the moment, you are not alone. There are many sources of support that can help you with the feelings you may be experiencing and to learn how to deal with them in a healthy and constructive way. Take care of yourself – physically, emotionally and mentally. When you can control your emotions, you will be in a better place to deal with any financial settlement negotiations.
- Keep your integrity – no matter how angry or betrayed you may feel, do not let your former spouse get to you. Don’t take to social media and resist venting details of your separation to anyone who will listen. Don’t bad mouth your former spouse to your children or your family, even if he/she is bad mouthing you to them. Rise above it and be the bigger person.
- Focus on the bigger picture and don’t sweat the small stuff – the decisions you may need to make during this process are likely to affect your own, and your children’s, future. If you focus on what is most important, like your future, instead of the past, you will stand a much better chance of not only separating amicably but achieving a settlement that you can live with and move forward from. You are unlikely, in six months’ time, to be grateful that you spent thousands of dollars arguing over who retains a TV.
- Try to avoid knee jerk reactions or decisions – separation and divorce can be very stressful and it is okay to take your time to think the situation through and to take advice and to then consider that advice.
- Choose the process, don’t let the process choose you – there are many process options that can be tailored to your circumstances. The family court is not the only one. Talk to us about the options before you choose one, or your find yourself in a process that you did not want to be in e.g. litigation.
Our family law team deal with all matters of separation and divorce. We can provide you with sound legal advice to help you through this process. We are dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for our clients and their families.
For further advice and information, please contact Sarah White, Partner & head of the family team, or any family lawyer at Malley & Co.