A Guide to a Civilized Divorce

The Three Divorce Dilemmas

Couples who are facing the possibility of a divorce face one of three dilemmas:

  1. “I want the divorce, but I am not sure if it is the right decision.”
    Since going through a divorce impacts the lives of your children, as well as your lifestyle, economics, and marital investment, the pressure to make the ‘perfectly correct’ decision is enormous. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. The best case scenario is to make a decision that is not emotionally based, nor driven by your ego.

  2. "I do not want the divorce, my spouse does.”
    Being in this reactive place will leave you feeling out of control and a helpless victim. You will experience intense emotional devastation, as your life will be changing before your eyes without you having any say in the outcome. In addressing this dilemma you need to ask yourself if you are clinging to staying on familiar, safe ground and to a marriage based on illusions. It is not easy to acknowledge and confront the problems in a marriage, when you are feeling so hurt by your partner.
  3. “I only want this divorce because my marriage is not working.”
    If this is your dilemma, then you will want to avoid responsibility at all costs by seeing your partner to blame for the demise of the marriage. There will be tremendous preoccupation and anger about how your partner caused you to make this decision. The amount of noise generated from this blaming will be in direct proportion to your unwillingness to risk expressing any of your own fears and sadness. If this doesn't occur, the divorce proceedings to follow will be riddled with tension and conflict, and a continuation of the blaming.

The common element in all three dilemmas is fear. In the first group there is a fear of making a mistake and being incorrect, the second will hide from it by denying that there are any problems or admitting their attachment to the familiar and the third group will fear any accountability and softness. The result in all three circumstances will be dragging, combative, and back and forth divorces.

While divorce is a highly emotional experience, it is possible to have a civilized divorce. Here are some tips given by our family law team on how to make it possible:

If possible we advise that parties should try to avoid the court process if it isn’t necessary at the time.

What comes to the minds of most people when they are thinking about divorce? Long court processes. This is usually the last thing we advise clients to resort to. Obviously in some cases it is not only inevitable but sometimes necessary to preserve assets or obtain interim maintenance or even protect clients or the children but otherwise we work with clients to explore alternative ways of resolving problems.

Don’t try and hide property or lie about assets and income

Divorce is highly emotional and most people can be tempted to treat their ex-partners as enemies. Due to this, they sometimes try to hide some of their property so that they don’t share it with them.

They attempt to hide the property by transferring them to their friends and distant family members. Or they try not to disclose their true worth. This almost always fails and invariably will lead to the matter coming before the courts, which if the court gets wind of, it will undoubtedly negatively affect your case. Not only will this mean the court will doubt anything you subsequently try to tell it, but in some cases it could be regarded as contempt of court and you will be in big trouble.

The end result of this is that you won’t get a favourable hearing in court.

Regardless of the negative feelings you have for your partner, you should keep your property intact and don’t try to hide or liquidate it.

Don’t involve the children

This goes without saying that you should keep the children out of the divorce process. Not involving the children means:

  • Not taking your frustrations out on the children
  • Not blaming them
  • Not venting to the children about the problem you are facing
  • Not asking the children where they would like to live once the divorce is complete
  • Not pressuring the children to make decisions
  • Not trash talking your ex-partner to the children
  • Not discouraging the children from spending time with the other parent
  • Not withholding the children from your ex-partner
  • Not arguing or fighting in front of the children

While you should keep the children out of the divorce process, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t let them know at a certain point. You should let them know at the end of the divorce process or once the divorce is complete.

You should note that you should always strive to give the best to your children; therefore, even when you divorce, you should provide them with anything they want. Don’t punish them just because you are no longer in good terms with your ex.

Work with the right lawyer

It’s always wise to seek advice from a lawyer when you are undergoing divorce/separation. While this is the case, you should note that you shouldn’t work with just any lawyer that you come across. You should take your time to find an experienced family lawyer who will be of value to you.

Experienced family lawyers in this country will usually be members of Resolution who are an organization of family specialists who subscribe to a code of conduct that promotes a non-confrontational approach to family problems. Its members encourage solutions that consider the needs of the whole family - and in particular the best interests of the children.

All the lawyers in Frettens Family team are members of Resolution and committed to their ideals.


Our Family Team and are happy to discuss any issues that this raises for you and we offer a free initial meeting or chat on the phone.

If you have any questions, you only have to ask us at Frettens. Please call 01202 499255 or 01425 610100 and Simon or a member of the team will be happy to chat about your situation and your particular requirements.