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10 Winning Divorce Strategies

Sadly and irreparably it has happened. Divorce is on the way. Why? How? Why you? Why us? These are questions you will probably be thinking about over and over. You probably don’t want this to happen and have done what you can to avoid. But you’ve decided and so has your soon-to-be ex so it’s now upon you. You’re feeling scared, anxious and down in the dumps. Neither of you know how this is going to turn out. You can only hope for the best but the reality is that neither of you are in a good place.

So now what do you do?

It’s easy for me as a veteran of thousands of divorces in my well-over 30 year career to come out with platitudes, especially when you’re in no mood to listen. However, what I would say to start with is that it’s a well-known fact that life, at times, can be very, very, cruel. There are wonderful times we all experience, but there are tragic times too. No-one escapes. Life in all its glory or life in its deep sadness touches us all in its own way. And when it hits, it does hit hard and then, as if that’s not hard enough to handle, other bad things seem to happen on top and all at once.

So what can you do?

You can remember, and keep telling yourself, that you aren’t alone. All of us human beings go through the good and the bad. It’s a daily lottery and it’s called being human and being alive.

But what can I advise you to do to make life during divorce easier? I’ve had a good think and come up with ten of the most important strategies to help you get through it.

1) The most important of all. Make decisions only to help you and not to harm your ex.

I am sometimes surprised by how many people sit in my office who are clearly deeply angry and bitterly trying to decide which strategy will most hurt their ex. Did you read that carefully? In case you didn’t, I will also add, don’t go there! Not for one moment. Don’t give your ex a second thought when it comes to planning your best possible future. If divorce is the best option for you who cares if your ex is free to remarry as well? They may not want another possible bust-up later down the line and being free to remarry is the last thing they want. And while you’re at it, don’t be tempted to hide, lie, or perjure yourself to make sure your ex gets as little as possible. You probably will get found out, even years later, and then it will all start again together with a huge costs bill. Don’t exaggerate either. Be fair and realistic. If the Judge accepts what you say is fair he will most likely be on your side.

2) Come to terms with where you are now.

It’s happened and now it’s time to accept this is the lowest you will feel and then move on. Time will heal you far more than you think. However, I must stress this point: don’t be in too much of a rush either. Try and pace this sensibly. Don’t be full of guilt, don’t be full of regrets. Decision made, a new life beckons so give it your best shot. Don’t reject counselling. It can be very helpful especially if you feel guilty about the breakdown of your marriage. Accepting where you are is an important part of moving on.

3) Don’t allow yourself to look down or back.

It’s tempting to look back and wallow in self-pity, lose weight, cry, be angry, and just give in to all those negative emotions. Unfortunately it will only harm you, and no one else. So don’t waste your breath. Get a grip, look forward and get rid of all that anger. Exercise and keep exercising until you’ve burned your anger away in calories. You will feel a lot better for it. Never depart from your strategy of moving onwards, upwards and away from where you are now. So remember, however tempting, don’t send an email or text to your ex after a glass or more of wine, don’t email around your ex’s company to get revenge. It will all come back to haunt you. Turn off your phone and iPad in the evening and watch TV. Or go to the gym if you can. Anything but dwelling on the bad feelings.

4) Always be respectful of your ex.

Don’t flaunt a new relationship in their face. Treat your ex with respect and hopefully it will work both ways. You once were a partnership. Think of how you used to bounce off each other when it was successful. Work on those skills at this, the most important time for both of you and of your children. Threats, withholding money or the children, arguments, silences, anger – none of it will work. Kindness and respect might.

5) Get the right lawyer for you.

Someone who will give you confidence and won’t be afraid to tell you straight out if you’re asking too much or giving too little. If the lawyer isn’t strong and pragmatic enough with you, how would that work in practice? Doing everything you want might result in you being left with a huge costs bill and a poor outcome. Make sure you fully understand the cost and the likely outcome. You’ve chosen your lawyer, now you want to be on the same page as your lawyer. If you don’t know, or aren’t sure, don’t guess. You want a good partnership with a lawyer. Remember this too: a lawyer who can’t give you a reasonable range is probably not the one you want on your side.

6) Don’t settle unless you’re absolutely sure.

You might be under pressure to settle but rarely asking for time is unreasonable. There’s no point crying later. Let me add that there’s no point instructing your lawyer two ways – one to dig deep and report back the other to settle as fast as possible. Keep calm take advice and then when advised to settle only do so when you feel ready. On the other hand you’re paying your lawyer to advise you, don’t dismiss it out of hand either. If you have a good relationship it shouldn’t be a problem.

7) Think about your future.

Be bold and be positive. Think about your future but don’t be unrealistic either. Don’t say you’re going to do something if you can’t. And if a house needs to be sold to give you enough money to live then face it. A home is more important than a house. And if it’s in your name, it’s your future security.

8) Treat the situation always as a challenge to be dealt with and conquered. Let time help you move on. Have that as a mantra. Time does heal I think it really does. Pain fades. People fade too. Do your best to put anger to one side in any way you can. When it surfaces make yourself think of something else.

9) Don’t lean on your children.

Understand they have needs and they aren’t there as a support for you. Don’t put on Oscar-winning performances about the horrific other. He or she is their parent too. Keep your kids firmly out of this. And don’t change, even if your ex doesn’t do the same. Children aren’t daft but they do need two parents if at all possible. Don’t deny them the best childhood they could have in the circumstances.

10) Finally: Don’t look for a replacement for your ex until you’re fully ready. You may be having an affair already but, frankly, my advice is that you can and should do this on your own. Heal first.

The founder of Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known family law solicitors and divorce lawyers. She retired from Stowe Family Law in 2017.

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  1. Gaynor says:

    Hi Marilyn, I am finding your blogs so helpful, thank you. I wonder if I can ask a question about my situation. I discovered in Aug that my husband of 4 years (lived together for 6.5 years) was having an affair so the marriage is over.
    I have 3 children to a previous marriage age 10, 13 & 14. The marital home is in my husbands name and he owned it 7.5 years before we moved in – the equity in the house is £400k. He has a business worth approx. £1 million that he started just before we got together. I work part time and he earns 2.5 times what I do.
    My husband is adamant that his house and business and not on the table (I never thought the business was and don’t want to affect his livelihood) and that in fact I am only due a small sum from his savings which are £50k
    He has moved out but is insisting he is moving back in on 31st Jan, despite my sons being so upset and angry that they don’t want to live with him (and fact he’s rented and furnished a flat) His stance point means mediation has not worked and it now looks like we will have to go to court.
    My solicitor is telling me that I may be entitled to about 30% – 40% of the equity in the home and that the children will be seen as “children of the family” and that the marriage is taken from when we lived together so at 6.5 years will be a mid term marriage. My husband is telling me I am not entitled to any of the equity and that the marriage will be seen as a short one and that he “will win if we go to court”
    I’m very scared about the future and sick with sorry over where my kids and I will live. I have just downloaded your book but I just wondered – is my husband right?
    Thanks in advance for any advice as I really don’t know what to do and feel desperate.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Gaynor,
      You have just read my post. Think about it all! Is your husband a family lawyer or is your lawyer a family lawyer? If it’s the lawyer you’re paying for great advice then hopefully you should be fine. Husband on the other hand has a vested interest in talking nonsense to you.
      All assets are available to share at the end of a marriage and none can be ring fenced from division irrespective of where they came from until both parties reasonable needs going forward have been assessed and met. Your husband took on a family to live with and then he married you and the children became children of the family I assume he has helped support them too. Your reasonable needs going forward and those of the children (I don’t know if their father maintains them but he has a primary duty) should be carefully calculated and if in doubt ask to see a barrister for more specific advice. But don’t guess these things, they have to be carefully done, a capital requirement based say on the cost of a house rather than a rough percentage and also an income budget going forward.
      A lot of emphasis is placed on ring fencing non Matrimonial assets but that’s relevant usually in Big Money cases when dealing with surplus assets after reasonable needs are met. Then it is appropriate to bring those arguments into play.
      I hope this helps,

      • Gaynor says:

        Dear Marilyn, thank you so much for taking the time to reply. You confirmed what I thought was the case and it was very reassuring to read.
        I will take your advice and also continue to listen to the advice of my family lawyer and ignore my husbands “nonsense”
        Warm regards

  2. Pete says:

    “5) Get the right lawyer for you.”
    No matter who the lawyer is don’t trust them ! Always take notes or record everything they say because if you end up going through the complaints procedure its your word against there’s .
    They know when to tell you something in front of a witness or without one, also if you go to the ombudsman then they are only interested in notes taken at the time ( there words not mine) and as we all know lawyers make notes but what they put in or leave out is up to them , its not like they are going to shoot themselves in the foot is it !

  3. Jabulane says:

    My wife file for divorce on 2018 for the second time her lawyers are not coming to court please advise

    • Kate Nestor says:

      Thank you for your question. I have passed your details to our Client Care Team who will be in touch. Kind regards

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