Rhiannon Ford, a divorce consultant and former divorce solicitor, shares her advice for anyone who has reached the conclusion that their relationship has ended, including what to do if you believe your marriage is over.
What to do if you think your marriage is over
All relationships have ups and downs but when the balance has tipped, and the downs consistently outweigh the ups, it can be difficult to know what to do next.
Recognising you are in an unhappy marriage or relationship isn’t straight forward. You’ll have lots of thoughts and feelings whizzing around in your head, such as “Can our relationship be saved? Or “Do I need to realise the marriage is over and that divorce could be the right decision?”
You may have talked to your spouse about your unhappiness and discovered that they’re not on the same page. Or perhaps you’ve tried everything you can to improve your relationship, but it is just not working.
Is it really over?
Before taking any action to end your relationship, you will want to be as sure as possible that you’re ready for the relationship to end. Get really clear with yourself about how you think and feel before you tell your spouse/partner.
Working with a counsellor can help clarify your thoughts. You could consider working with one on your own and/or with your partner. Their impartial guidance can help you to establish whether separation is right for you.
When the decision to separate has been made
If you have come to the difficult conclusion that the relationship is indeed over, my advice is:
Get professional advice
Starting to consider the possibility of divorce or separation can be very uncomfortable and confusing. You will want to make strong informed decisions about the way forward and that starts with finding out the right information about your options and choices.
Consider working with a divorce consultant or coach to find out your first steps towards a separation.
You should also get legal advice from a specialist family law solicitor about your options so that you enter the process with clarity and support, and avoid the risks of a DIY divorce.
Create a strong support network
Having the right professional and personal support team around you can make a material difference. Whilst you will want friends and family around you, choose carefully who you confide in. Make sure you choose people who will provide the right help and support for your unique circumstances.
3 important issues to consider in divorce
1. Your Relationship
If you are married, do you want to divorce and legally end the marriage? Even if you’re ready to separate, you may not wish to rush things. It is important to bear in mind that divorce is not the only way a couple can decide to arrange their separation, and what’s best for each couple varies.
2. Your Finances
When you decide to separate an agreement will need to be reached to resolve financial matters between you and your spouse/partner. There are various options available to help negotiate and resolve financial matters, and you can choose which approach is most appropriate for the two of you. There are also different ways to formalise any financial agreement reached and make them legally binding. I highly recommend you get professional advice when handling divorce finances, to make sure you understand the options and achieve an outcome that’s fair.
3. Your Children
If you have children, it is particularly important to approach your separation in a considerate manner, protecting them at all times. Decide with your spouse/partner what, when and how the children will be told about the separation. This might be approached in different ways depending on the ages of the children.
You will also need to discuss and agree with your ex on what parenting arrangements to put in place. The two main issues to be addressed in relation to the children are living arrangements – where and with who the children will live – and how you will both support the children financially once you are separated.
What to remember
No one considers separation or divorce lightly. It is a big decision that impacts yours and your family’s future. Whether you’ve been through divorce before or now, getting the right support and advice from specialists can help you make strong informed decisions to help you move forward. Choose to take a respectful approach towards your ex and the process, whilst protecting the children from the adult issues.
Rhiannon Ford is a UK-based Divorce Consultant, offering guides, phone clinics, and 1:1 work to support people through the emotional and practical aspects of divorce, whether they’re at the start, in the middle, or at the end of their divorce journey.