As the government consultation on divorce law reform and the introduction of no-fault divorce closes (10 December 2018), we are joined on the blog by an English ex-pat, who went through a divorce in Spain.
They tell us the personal story behind the research and media coverage of a no-fault divorce, the difference it made to the divorce and the positive impact it still has today on the couple’s amicable relationship.
“I have recently ‘come out the other side’ of an acrimonious divorce. Acrimonious, but not in the traditional sense. My wife simply seemed to hate me for about 18 months after telling me she wanted a divorce. I struggled to understand exactly why that was but didn’t retaliate. I had in mind that this person was incredibly important to me. This person was, and will always be a part of me, and I have to respect that piece of myself, not to mention the legacy of our relationship.
My ex-wife and I are now great friends again.
I think there are probably four main reasons why we managed to get through this.
Be emotionally prepared
Thankfully and unknowingly, I had learned the necessary measures to manage myself emotionally, thanks to related work I’ve done in the years before we separated. So yes, I was at an advantage over most people, but really the important starting point was to accept that the relationship was over, and that we’d not been happy for a long time.
We then allowed each other some space and were careful not to fan the flames during the separation and months leading up to our divorce, and the year that followed. Preparing yourself in this way is not difficult and there are loads of resources out there to help you.
Limit the damage caused
I could choose no-fault divorce. That’s only because I no longer live in the UK. Had I still lived in the UK, I have no doubt that the divorce process would have been so much worse, as my wife would have had to make allegations against me or me against her. Even if she would have wanted to do that at the time, I know she would have regretted it later. I know I would sincerely regret any heat of the moment allegations, had I made any. But thankfully that was not necessary in Spain, like it is not in many other countries.
Why it’s necessary in the UK I just don’t know, but it definitely encouraged me away from using the UK family justice system and legal services. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same applied to most divorcing British expats.
Look beyond your feelings and help others
I tried to consider my ex-wife’s personality and what she must be going through. I threw some energy into trying to help others who might be going through similar challenges through a charity project. OK so the project had quite modest results but that’s not the point. It did some good and made me feel like I had gotten a lot of angst out of my system.
Accept your emotions during one of life’s toughest challenges
I firmly believe that our thoughts define us. If you choose to focus on sad events or things that make you feel angry, it will most likely contribute to your becoming a sad and angry person. If you choose to focus on the negative breaking point of a relationship, it will, for many people, taint the rest of the history of that relationship and just make people unhappy about a significant chunk of their lives. Who wants that? Who would encourage such a thing?
Encouraging people to throw allegations at each other, during divorce, will just make the splitting couple focus on the allegation or incident or whatever. Sure, we all must deal with trauma and emotions, but that should just be the catalyst to finding meaning in both of those things and using that meaning to learn and to move forward.
No fault has been on the governments’ desk for years and they’ve done nothing. During that time, every divorcing couple in the UK has had to demonstrate that their relationship hasn’t worked due to one of the reasons that the UK legal system recognises. All those couples have basically had to state what the legal system wants to hear.
Sometimes relationships don’t work
One of those reasons really ought to be that it just didn’t work…as relationships often don’t.
If you used to love each other and feel like your relationship was harmed by having to blame your partner or your partner having to blame you, then please comment below.”
If any of the issues in this blog affect you please contact us at the details below.