Separating from a partner is tough, especially when you have to go through the divorce process. Legal aspects aside, divorce can take its toll on you and your family’s mental health, and it can sometimes feel like you have nowhere to turn. There are also other considerations, such as your living situation, and who gets ownership of what. But there are many resources that can help.
With that in mind, here is some useful divorce advice on where to find help, how to support your family, and other ways to get you through this tough time.
Give yourself time to grieve
Emma Heptonstall is a former lawyer mediator and divorce coach (also known as The Divorce Alchemist). She says that at first you should do nothing.
“Give yourself some time to grieve and process that your marriage is over. Rushing to seek a solicitor before you are emotionally ready is a bad idea (unless you are experiencing abuse). Being emotionally ready gives you the head space to consider where you are now in your life, and where you want to be post-divorce.”
Identify what’s important to you
The next piece of advice on divorce is to identify what is important to you, to avoid getting into conflicts about things that do not matter.
“Divorce is usually about compromise, flexibility and understanding that your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will have their own thoughts, feelings, wants and needs”, says Emma.
“Being clear about what’s important to you at the start enables you to plan. Planning your future life keeps you focused on what is truly important so you can let the small stuff go. You are less likely to get drawn into disagreements about issues that really don’t matter to you.”
During the divorce process, there can be disagreement over who owns what. Focusing on the essentials and not being bogged down by extra bits and bobs can be helpful before you speak to a lawyer. Sometimes, you may have to leave your home quickly and stay with friends or parents. In that case, short-term storage can be helpful.
Children can be OK with divorce – if it’s handled properly
Caroline Strawson, accredited divorce & positive psychology coach and author of ‘Divorce Became My Superpower’, says that divorce doesn’t have to affect your children, as long as you look after your own emotional wellbeing.
“Research shows that 80% of children adapt well following a divorce with no lasting effects on their grades at school, their social adjustment or mental health. Children thrive when they have good relationships with both parents, but this need not be with parents living in the same house. Children will benefit from emotionally stable parents focusing on parenting them and looking after their own emotional health too.
“Children will watch their parents for signs of stability as they will often mirror the parent’s emotions, especially at a young age. This impacts their mental health which makes it vitally important for parents to take their own mental health seriously and look to heal and recover themselves following a divorce as this will have a positive impact on the children.”
Consider your living situation
In theory, co-parenting (sometimes called joint parenting or shared parenting) is the ideal scenario post-divorce. But in practice it can be difficult and sometimes even causes more harm, according to Caroline. In such situations, parallel parenting, in which both parents have as little direct contact as possible, may be best.
“In some cases where abuse or personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder are present, parallel parenting can be a positive alternative for the person who has been abused. Children want happy parents, whether that is in marriage or separately. Self-love is the ideal starting point, and this is not being selfish, it is being the best parent possible as your children want you to be happy.”
Speak to someone
There are lots of helplines in the UK that can give you impartial divorce advice. Some include:
Find out how to separate, sort money and make agreements about your children.
Empowering women to access legal rights, you can call the advice line for free, confidential legal advice.
A free and confidential advice service in England and Wales paid for by legal aid.
Resolution’s 6,500 members are family lawyers and other professionals, so you can count on them for legal advice on divorce.
Divorce Recovery Workshop doesn’t provide legal advice or formal counselling. Instead, it offers a self-help course to help deal with the emotional trauma of a relationship breaking down.
Childline is a counselling service for children and young people and can help those whose parents are going through a divorce.
If you need somewhere to store your belongings while you get things sorted, Access Self Storage can help. We have branches across the UK, including Access Self Storage Barking, Access Self Storage Guildford, Access Self Storage Romford and Access Self Storage Kings Cross. Or, check out our store finder.