Sometimes things don’t work out.
In fact, they can pretty ugly between couples and, if they reach the end of the road, end in divorce. There may be plenty of reasons for the split, but when you want to go separate ways and don’t know how to file for divorce, where do you begin?
Well, the first thing to know is the law sees divorce in terms of two types. ‘Undefended divorce’ is when neither partner objects to the divorce. If there are no children involved (hopefully — no one wants a custody battle) and no complicated financial or properties matters, you may complete divorce proceedings without resorting to an expensive solicitor. Undefended divorces usually take a few months to be finalised. Normally, this includes the time it takes for courts to process the divorce papers filed, followed by a wait of at least six weeks between the provisional and final divorce.
The other type is if the partner digs their heels in and doesn’t agree to a divorce. This is a ‘defended divorce’. You’ll require a solicitor’s input. Family courts will be merciful and grant a divorce if you can prove the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Two years separation of with consent, five years’ separation, desertion, adultery or unreasonable behaviour are all legitimate reasons.
Naturally, a lot of people want a quick, painless divorce and will cite unreasonable behaviour as their grounds for the divorce. This is a subjective accusation, so courts can vary in how they define ‘unreasonable behaviour’. Any financial or childcare concerns can be sorted out after the decree absolute has been granted. They don’t need to be dealt with during the legal proceedings of the divorce itself.
When the kids are involved, this can complicate matters, but you must ensure their welfare is paramount throughout the whole divorce proceedings. Don’t take out frustrations or argue in front of the children: they may later internalise it and believe your separation is somehow their fault.
It’s also vital that you prepare them and talk to them about what is happening before and after divorce proceedings. The language that you use will of course depend on their age, but strive to be pragmatic rather than let emotions get in the way. Let them know that both parents love them, and don’t transmit any hostility or blame from your partner onto them.
Children may react differently to the idea or reality of divorce; they may exhibit disruptive behaviour, become withdrawn or become less interested in school. If there behaviour does change, both parents must have an input in managing this. The children will be alright if though know, despite the change in their parents’ relationship, familial bonds are still present.
Divorce is a difficult, stressful time, but civilised behaviour and open communication should minimise the effect it has on children. You’re adults, after all. Make it easier for all involved, including yourself.