Archive for the ‘Divorce’ Category

Divorce Diaries

When you are experiencing overwhelming feelings and can’t think that life will ever change, it is uself to keep a diary or journal of how you feel and what you are doing on a daily basis.   The act of writing things down is often cathartic and importantly when you read back what you have written perhaps a week or two later you see how feelings change so often and so quickly.  It is a really good way of seeing that things aren’t static and do move.  Feeling upset or depressed can make you feel that you have always felt like this and will always feel like this in the future.  This is very common and understandable.  Feeling depressed can feel so all consuming that it is almost impossible to see a way out.  Keeping a diary will help to see that there is a way out, that you won’t always feel like this and life changes.  FLIP have launched a new website called the Divorce Diaries.  I think it is very helpful: www.divorcediaries.co.uk 

A Rallying Cry for Mediation.

As with so many government initiatives, the policy decision to push separating families away from lawyers and into mediation (or at least those who rely on legal aid) has failed spectacularly.  The referral rate to mediation has dropped dramatically since legal aid was withdrawn from most family law cases.  The government apparently failed to realise (despite being told by anyone who knew anything about it) that it was the lawyers who made the referrals!

It is though not all doom and gloom.  For people who can afford professional advice, lawyers are working increasingly constructively and there has been a surge in people seeking out collaborative lawyers to help them through the divorce process.  Hopefully therefore the next generation of divorced adults and their children will not suffer the scars of an acrimonious (and often financially ruinous) divorce. 

But let’s not forget about mediation.  It is remains the only entirely neutral process that provides help and support for adults to reach their own decisions.  Legal information is an integral part of mediation and whilst mediators cannot give tactical advice to either party they do make sure they understand the options and implications of what is discussed.  And don’t think that all mediators are of the ‘knitted cardigan’ variety.  The vast majority are family lawyers who also represent clients in court.  Mediation can also take any forms.  Personally I am seeing an increasing number of people who have struggled to reach an agreement with their lawyers.  Coming to see me is therefore sometimes the last ditch attempt to avoid court.   Often this is a ‘one day’ event (sometimes with lawyers present) and my experience is that it works.

So, my rallying cry is not to forget about mediation simply because the government wants you to do it! 

Post written by David Allison from Family Law in Partnership.

 

Healing through Colour – A guest Post by Karen Haller

colour

 If you are experiencing the sadness of separation or divorce,  colour can help. No matter how you are feeling or want to feel, there will be a colour that expresses that emotion. You may choose to wear colours to stay with that feeling, or colours to support change. You may wish to wear the colour or perhaps a bunch of flowers or something small in that colour is all you need.

 If you feel like hiding away at home on the sofa when it’s feeling all a bit too much, you may choose to wear grey to retreat. You may choose to wear pink to support yourself in a nurturing, loving way, or violet for self-reflection and contemplation.

 Here is a selection of colours showing some of their positive psychological traits, so no matter how you are feeling, you know there is a colour that will help support the outcome you want.

 

Pink                 – Nurtured, caring and loved

Yellow             – Optimism, self-confidence, self-esteem, uplifting

Green              – Peaceful, relaxed, restorative 

Light Blue        – Calm, reflective, creative thought 

Dark Blue        – Calm, focused, trust, loyalty 

Brown             – Grounding, dependable, reliable

Red                 – Energised, physical courage, strength

Violet               – Self-reflection, spiritual awareness

Orange            – Fun, joy, sensuality 

Black               – emotional safety, creating protective barrier from other

White               – clarity, simplicity, creating distance from others

Grey                – hides the personality, protection from others

Karen Haller is one of the UK’s leading authorities in the field of applied colour psychology. If you would like to know more about her services Karen can be contact on hello@karenhaller.co.uk or 020 7727 4938 for a personal colour psychology consultation and bespoke colour chart. She is also available for talks and workshops. 

http://www.KarenHaller.co.uk

 

 

It’s not just the rain that spoils summer if you’re divorced.

summerWe’re heading for the long summer holidays and if you are separated, it might not feel all that joyous for a multitude of reasons.  Perhaps it’s the first time without your partner or as a family. Perhaps choosing a holiday feels more difficult and more self-conscious.  It may also mean spending time without your children because they are with their other parent.  Summer may feel that it’s happening to others, and not taking you with it.  It’s always strange to break familiar comfortable ways of life or habits.  Even if you get to go on holiday it can feel like a consolation prize rather than what you would like it to be.  However, like anything new it becomes part of how you do things and how you are.  You begin to inhabit it, instead of feeling how strange and odd everything is. Try to reframe the experience, by thinking of it as an adventure, an opportunity to develop, to explore to push your horizons.  Being outside feels lonely, but being inside something of your own creation can feel good. 

No Stigma, no Pain? Really?

Pain of DivorceAlison Steadman has caused a mini furore in the divorcing world.  Perhaps she has been spending too much time with Penelope Keith (see last blog.) In the Daily Mail , http://dailym.ai/10WrK6v she comments that people are divorcing far too easily, because there is no longer a stigma attached to it. Well, she is promoting her new series on love and marriage so I suppose she is allowed some latitude, but… I have said it before and I will say it again. I have yet to meet anyone either in the support groups or workshops that I run, who has walked out of a marriage or been part of a separation with no more thought than ‘it’s over’.  Most people, including people in their 30’s, leave because they are deeply unhappy over a period of time.  Sadly, there often is only one person who makes that decision leaving the other feeling devastated.  People do, unlike Ms Steadman’s belief try to work on their marriages first, going to couples counselling or bringing in friends or family members to try and help them.  It is true there is no longer a stigma attached to it, thank goodness, but the lack of stigma doesn’t make it one jot less painful to the person experiencing a separation.

www.divorcesupportgroup.co.uk/workshop

 

Single dwellings – lifestyle choice or a necessity?

To the Manor born.  I try to hold onto my equilibrium as I read Penelope Keith’s comments in Country Life Magazine on people divorcing in their 50’s and 60’s. Her comments are reproduced in The Daily Mail: http://dailym.ai/112A4Rf   

‘If only we could educate people to go on living together for longer. It’s all these single dwellings, all these women in their 50s and 60s who suddenly want their own space, to be their own people. To do what?’

Ms Keith is bemoaning the fact that in her Surrey village, property prices are out of most people’s reach.  She blames divorcing women.

One can only surmise that Ms Keith, or should we call her Mrs Keith doesn’t live in the real world.  She must think that women in their 50’s and 60’s who find themselves divorced do so in a tra la la fashion, gaily stepping into the shoes of singledom so that they can live in an often smaller home, away from all that they have known for the last 30 odd years.  Perhaps Ms (Sorry, Mrs) Keith thinks that divorce is a joyful thing, something to be relished and looked forward to in later years and that a bi-product of it is to inadvertently push up house prices in an area where I am sure her house is priced beyond the reach of many. 

Well, Ms Keith, if you would care to be a fly on the wall in one of our support groups, or workshops, you would in fact, see fairly quickly, that no-one chooses to be divorced or separated lightly, or without much thought often over many years. Or indeed, often those women that you see living in ‘single dwellings’ as you so lovingly call them, often find themselves separated against their will or choice by a husband who has chosen to look elsewhere.

Think again Ms Keith and perhaps after that you might just have a little empathy and dare I say it – understanding.

www.divorcesupportgroup.co.uk/workshop

Gold digger or Coal digger – money worries on divorce.

Gold digger or Coal digger?

Gold digger or Coal digger?

Interesting article in the Standard yesterday: http://bit.ly/198vPsc about ‘ladies who lunch’ relying on their husbands for meal tickets.  I take issue with Sarah Duckworth from Munday’s Solicitors who says that women are cynical and deliberately don’t go to work in order that their husbands pay maintenance to them.  Firstly, both men and women that I see are deeply anxious about money on divorce, the cost of lawyers and how much money they will have to live on once everything is divided. I have yet to find a ‘cynical’ person who deliberately sets out to fleece their partner, wealthy or otherwise. On the contrary, I find men worried they will have to work forever to continue to fund what was the ‘married lifestyle’ and at the same time try to fund themselves.  I find women, who may have been financially dependent for 30 years, suddenly without enough money to put petrol in the car because funds have stopped.  Ms Duckworth suggests that these women should get work.  Well, those are easy words.  Often these women gave up careers on the insistence of husbands wanting them to be at home and enjoyed their wives financial dependency. They find themselves 20 or 30 years later having no place in the job market with an ex-husband who feels that he wants to turn off the tap having encouraged the lack of qualification in the first place.  There are also many women who are career women who are the main breadwinners, who equally have to pay maintenance to their ex-husband.  The same insult isn’t levelled at them.  Sara Rowden relies on big money cases where the pay-out is many millions to substantiate her argument. Often in these cases, there is a 3 year marriage, with an age discrepancy, where we could rightly surmise that there may have been gold digging.  Most of us, in the real world have real worries about money, irrespective of gender and these worries are universal.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE WAR – the way to the Good Divorce.

Delighted to post this Guest Blog from Gillian Bishop at Family Law in Partnership writing this for us.

I recently bumped into a former client whom I had represented in a collaborative divorce a few years ago.  Over the course of working with him I had got to know him and his then wife quite well.  I was pleased to see him and asked how things were. This was his reply:

We are still very happily “not-married” and see each other all the time, spending weekends and holidays together and always celebrating everything as a family.

I have no doubt that the collaborative process was instrumental in the success of our divorce.  It left both us and our children feeling calm and reassured that we as parents had done the right thing.”

“Wow!”  I thought. It has not been often in my 30 years as a family law solicitor that I have heard such positive follow up and I wonder how many of your divorcing friends have been able to say this sort of thing.   I am pleased to say that I have heard it increasingly after working collaboratively with couples.

I was reminded of the occasion last year when I walked back to my Covent Garden office from the last collaborative 4-way meeting with my client’s soon to be ex-wife who was en route to the mainline train station. We chatted about the children and upcoming holidays. When we reached my office she paused before continuing to the train. Instinctively, she hugged me and said how grateful she was for my help in getting things resolved with her husband.  I had to pinch myself to remember that she was not my client and that in the eyes of some ex-wives of my litigation clients I would have been regarded as Public Enemy No.1.

 

So what is collaborative family law and what makes it different from the conventional, some might say “traditional”, approach to dispute resolution?

 Collaborative law is the process in which you and your partner and both your lawyers sign up to a commitment to resolving matters between you without involving the court. It is the “no court” commitment which offers the prospect of delivering a solution for the long term benefit of you and your family.

How is this achieved?

Aspiration statements

The aspiration statements of each couple are delivered to each other – some are prepared jointly – at the commencement of the collaborative process. They are statements of the couple’s highest hopes for the process and their family’s post separation life. They usually address two aspects: a) the way the process is conducted and b) what the outcome should enable each of the couple and the family as a whole to do/have. In times of difficulty the aspiration, or anchor, statements are there to help stabilise the situation as they remind couples of why they want to work together in this way and of the things that matter most to them.

Disqualification clause

Everyone signs a participation agreement not to go to court.

If the process breaks down the lawyers will withdraw from representing either party. 

Some people view this disqualification clause with fear and regard it as a reason not to collaborate. In fact the clause is a real positive for the process and is why people should feel safe entering into a collaborative way of working. It is what makes the process work. It works because not finding a solution round the table brings with it consequences no one wants.  This in turn enables the participants to start getting creative about, and focused on, finding solutions that, if they are not found round the table, will be found months later by a complete stranger – the judge – with limited knowledge of the couple and no knowledge of what really matters to them.

More importantly the disqualification clause gives a freedom to the lawyers to work together rather than in opposition to each other, it fosters interest based negotiation (e.g. what do we need to do with our assets?)  rather than the more adversarial positional negotiation (e.g. how much of the money can I keep for me?) , it enables an atmosphere of trust to be built up between the clients and both lawyers, and, perhaps most importantly of all, it enables the couple to address underlying concerns and issues which in turn permits a deeper healing to take place. Without the disqualification clause it is very easy for people to become polarised, for minor issues to become major ones and for resentments and bitterness to take hold.

It works!

The father in my first collaborative case said at the end of the process “my family, though separated, is still intact”. His words have inspired me to work collaboratively whenever possible ever since.

If you want to know more about the collaborative process and how it has helped other families then read “The Client’s Guide to Collaborative divorce – putting your family first” available from my firm’s website www.flip.co.uk/about/downloads.asp or on Kindle via Amazon . http://www.amazon.co.uk/Clients-Guide-Collaborative-Divorce-ebook/dp/B009ROZ0AA/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367397472&sr=1-5&keywords=collaborative+divorce

How Do I get Divorced now I can’t get Legal Aid?

Good interview on the Today programme   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21999855 with Mark Harper at Withers and Christine Blacklaws from the Co-op debating the effect of the removal of legal aid from divorce cases except where there is proof of domestic violence.  There are alternatives to a litigious costly divorce, such as mediation – where with the help of a mediator, you can decide together the outcome of your divorce and get it drawn up into an order.  You can also get an online divorce, if you both agree on what should happen and avoid court altogether.  You can also get a cut rate fixed price divorce from the Co-Op (currently £200) where someone does all the paper work for you. The issue really is what happens when one of you simply won’t agree on any terms and you need to fight to get what is rightfully yours.  You may be happy to mediate, or to have a fixed fee divorce from the Co-op but if your ex partner won’t play ball, you have very little option left, but to litigate.  In those circumstances, in the absence of money to fund it, you will simply have to represent yourself in court and learn as you go along.  There are difficulties with this.  There are many cases which need the expertise of a good lawyer, advising you on pension rights, maintenance, your home and many other worrying and pressing issues.  What if you think your partner is hiding his or her true income, or  that he or she simply won’t come to the table to negotiate – mediation won’t be able to help with that and I suspect a fixed rate divorce won’t budget for something that might take months to uncover and require on-going legal advice.   There are some brilliant mediators out there – and I recommend many regularly and there are other methods of doing things more cheaply, but if your ex won’t play ball – then the full effect of the removal of legal aid, will start to weigh heavily by clogging up the courts with people representing themselves and by justice not being done because proper advice isn’t able to be given.

Baby Boomer Divorce – loneliness or freedom?

Research published today in the Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/divorce/9987391/Loneliness-time-bomb-warning-fuelled-by-baby-boomer-divorces.html highlights the percentage of people in their 50’s and 60’s who are lonely and that divorce contributes to that statistic.  Being married for 20 or 30 years and being unhappy for a large part of that, leaves someone in their 50’s or 60’s with a seemingly impossible choice.  Stay married, with years stretching out ahead with the same frustrations and unhappiness, or take a chance at something different – maybe meeting someone else, or just being free to pursue life unencumbered.  It can feel like the judgement of Solomon and takes a lot of courage to choose the separation route.  Many people who come to our groups talk about how lonely they felt in their marriages. You don’t have to live on your own to feel lonely, you can be surrounded by people and still feel it.  Perhaps one feels more lonely in a marriage where you might feel invisible and unappreciated.  Loneliness can be a sad fact of life – and all sorts of people in all sorts of circumstances can feel lonely.  Divorce is just one of those circumstances, and managed right, it is possible to move from being in a state of bereavement, loneliness and bewilderment, to leading a fulfilled life.  www.divorcesupportgroup.co.uk/coping-with-separation.