Together apart, in a positive way
Divorce is often associated with acrimony which isn’t the best basis for any sort of relationship afterwards. Chartered Legal Executive Donna Hart offers her tips to help you face the future ‘together apart’ in a positive way.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Divorce is sometimes likened to experiencing a death; you need time to grieve and let go of your life before you separated. You will feel many emotions, from anger and fear to optimism and liberation, often all mixed together. Try counselling sessions or exercise classes to help you feel more optimistic. When you’re ready, you can start to rebuild your relationship with your ex, albeit on a different basis than before.
GIVE IT TIME
Divorce is not always cut and dried. When you’ve had a home together for a long time, there will be lots to sort out. Some family members may want to stay in touch with your ex. Such relationships often come to an end in time; it’s better that they naturally peter out rather than be forced to stop.
Divorce proceedings can take longer than you think – there’s no such thing as a ‘quickie’ divorce! The case may be complex, you may be waiting for responses from third parties such as valuers, actuaries or CAFCASS. And your ex may not wish to move matters along as quickly as you; it could be that they’re not as prepared emotionally so try to be sympathetic. If you’re feeling frustrated, be open with your lawyer.
COMMUNICATE AND COLLABORATE
If you can, communicate with each other by phone or face to face as emails or texts can sometimes be misconstrued. Try not to let emotions spill over; keep conversations factual and stick to the point. Collaborate on decisions such as which school the children might go to or who they will be with on Christmas Day. Check out apps like OurFamilyWizard, which provide a central platform to connect and share family information in a secure space. This can help the non-resident parent to be involved in the daily life of their children.
FOCUS ON THE GOOD THINGS IN YOUR LIVES TOGETHER
You got together because you liked each other – don’t dismiss your history just because you aren’t together now. One day your children will want you both at their wedding. You may also eventually share grandchildren! Your children should feel comfortable for both of you to enjoy the grandparenting experience.
DON’T CONFUSE YOUR CHILDREN
While it’s good to stay amicable, you need to be clear about boundaries so your children understand the reality. Many children, especially early on, want their parents to be reconciled. There are plenty of books available that can help children deal with divorce so invest in one or two. Importantly, never belittle your ex to your children – no child will thank you for this.
Some people manage to stay good friends after the divorce, but this is a tough ask. Having a healthy relationship doesn’t necessarily mean going for coffee every week but it does mean you can have a pleasant exchange during handovers or telephone calls.