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End the blame game: No fault divorce saved my relationship

Please note that this is not the latest blog post on no-fault divorce. This can be viewed here. You can also access an update on the progress of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill here.  

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.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. JamesB says:

    There should be a ‘We just didn’t get on’ box to tick. I agree with you on that.

    The ancillary relief process should be fairer and legalise inexpensive legally binding pre and post nups too.

    Seems an unwritten lawyers rule to make divorce as painful as possible. Hence the reduction in divorces and marriages. I disagree with that, should make divorces and marriages easier, bring people together. Problem is they are lawyers and wont like to change the system as they have milked divorce fees as lawyers for years. Still it needs to change as people have got the hang of their dodgy system and are avoiding expensive marriage and divorce. I’d rather see cheaper marriage and divorce, I am beginning to repeat myself as Im tired so will leave it there. All the best to you. Did get a decree nisi saying it was unreasonable to expect my spouse to live with me which annoyed me big time as was nonsense.

    • John says:

      Thanks for your well wishes, James.
      Well, it looks like we will both got what we wanted. No fault set to come in soon, which also makes divorce cheaper. The whole thing should become more of a process, with less complications and need for lawyer intervention, mediation and so on.
      Reconsidering my article and reading your comments, I totally concede that individual circumstances and personalities affect how we get through divorce, and that some of my comments are not applicable to everyone… In my case I chose to temporarily take on quite a few additional costs in order to avoid arguments etc. I considered those to be peace keeping costs. I realise that that approach wont work for everyone (offer your hand and loose an arm!) but its worth testing imho and worked for me in the long run. To carry on the analogy, I feel like I lost an arm, but it grew back!
      All the best to you too James.

  2. JamesB says:

    Amicable relationship after divorce? Nah, ask you in 15 years, you will barely be talking to her.

    I accept being a good friend in front of any children of marriage is best gift you can give them, but in my experience it is not worth bankrupting yourself financially or emotionally or at the expense of your future as that is also of worth to the children.

    Being amicable in front of them is a laudable aim. I think being amicable depends on not being shafted financially, and being treated with respect. Unfortunately people tend to fight over money and contact. Best to try not to, but dont think changing the law on that will change the real reason for acrimony in divorce, i.e. people feeling hard done by on contact or finances.

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