I need your help – I am creating a private group that will provide divorcing or separating people with:
- Q & A – answers to specific questions from the group members will be recorded and shared on video/audio within the group
- Video, audio and article Interviews with experts in legal, finance and wellbeing will be shared with the group on the subject of divorce/separation
- Access for free resources including the following benefits:
- Divorce First Aid Kit
- CoParenting in a Box Video Pack (value £48)
- Online Divorce In A Box (value £65)
- Divorce Travel Guide (value £48)
- Divorce Organiser (value £18)
- Access to £100s of expert 1-1 advice
But I need to give it a good name.
Can you help?
Feel free to add your own ideas as well – but don’t click on more than 3 choices (including any of your own)
Choose the name for my facebook ‘how to divorce’ group
Many thanks in advance!
Many believe that travelling together can make or break a relationship. Travelling with a partner can indeed reveal a lot, not only about the relationship, but also about the parties involved. If you’re trying to build a stronger relationship, however, planning a trip together and going on an adventure may just be what you need.
When the primary goal is to strengthen your relationship, an adventurous road trip to somewhere new is definitely the kind of trip to take. Here are some tips to help you plan the perfect road trip together.
Go Far and Explore
A road trip is traditionally done from home to a relatively reachable destination; it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re serious about going on an adventure, going on a road trip to somewhere far will add that extra challenge you need to make the trip more memorable. You can, for instance, do a 1,000-mile trip all the way to Edinburgh and spend an entire week exploring different cities together.
Make sure you go into detail when planning the destination and the routes you’ll be taking along the way. While it is a good idea to keep parts of the trip spontaneous, knowing the routes and the cities you’ll be visiting can help make the trip more enjoyable.
Make Sure You (and Your Car) Are Ready
A road trip can be pretty daunting, but it is not a difficult thing to do at all. Of course, you’ll need a valid driving license and a car that’s ready for the journey to begin with. It is even better when the two of you have valid driving licences, since this allows you to take turns and drive different parts of the trip. Practice for that driving theory test and get your license issued before the trip.
Preparing the car is also an easy thing to do. A good tune-up and some basic checks before departing are all you need to make sure car troubles won’t hamper your trip. You can also remove a lot of the commonly-frustrating elements of taking an extended road trip when you drive a car that is in a good shape.
Prepare for Emergencies
Lastly, make sure you have contingencies in place. A lot of things could go wrong during an extended road trip and it is best to know how to deal with the situation when they do go wrong before you set off. Most of the issues you might face along the way, however, are issues you can anticipate in advance.
For example, you may not be able to reach the stops you plan along the way. Install hotel booking apps and update Google Maps or Apple Maps so you can quickly find a place to stay when you have to. Bring a lot of bottled water, an extra spare tyre and extra blankets too.
With careful planning, the two of you will feel so much closer at the end of a road trip. You might face some problems along the way, but you’ll also have a fantastic experience that will undoubtedly strengthen your relationship.
Some say that having to lay blame at someone’s door for the end of a marriage is a reasonable thing to have to do before the first 2 years of separation are ended.
But what are the reasons why this view may be misguided?
Resolution – the Family Law Association – are campaigning for No-Fault Divorce, and I for one am also supporting that campaign, for the reasons I describe in the BBC Radio interview you can listen to below:
(Suzy Miller: Alternative Divorce Guide on BBC Radio Sussex)
I spoke to a gentleman the other day who is experiencing the early stages of divorce. Not only is he feeling traumatised by the whole experience, but the accusations of blame by his spouse via her solicitor – in order to provide ‘grounds for the divorce’ – have added not only more emotional pain, but also anger, neither of which helps encourage an amicable divorce process. Whatever reasons his spouse creates (out of her own emotional state of anger and pain) to ‘blame’ her husband for the divorce enshrined in the divorce petition, have no practical bearing on the need to produce a financial agreement and child access arrangements, other than to make that whole process even more fraught and laden with acrimony than it already is.
On every level, the idea of ‘fault’ is harmful and pointless. The concept, sometimes muted – that taking away the blame makes divorce ‘too easy’ – indicates only that the person saying those words has absolutely no idea just how difficult divorce is on every level, with or without blame. It is misguided thinking, in my opinion.
Anyone focused on supporting parents through divorce, where the level of conflict has a direct impact on the children involved, knows only too well that what couples need is support, not more excuses to be reminded of why they don’t want to be together anymore.
January is International Child-Centered Divorce Month. The entire month is dedicated to helping parents minimize the negative effects of divorce on children – by giving them the tools and resources they need to support their kids during and long after a divorce.
Throughout January divorce attorneys, mediators, therapists, financial planners, coaches, parenting experts and other professionals around the world will be providing complimentary gifts offering advice and insights to help parents best cope with divorce and parenting issues. None of those resources actively encourage ‘blame’ – so why is it enshrined in our legal system, if it has no benefit to anyone, and harms families?
Resolution believes that the law urgently needs to change to allow people to break up with dignity without a two year wait. Currently a divorce can only be sought within two years of the formal separation by one partner stating the details either of their partner’s adultery or their unreasonable behaviour in order to proceed with the divorce, making an already difficult and distressing process even harder.
Why not just wait two years before divorcing?
Ok, so you just try moving your life forwards when you are financially and legally tied to another person you don’t want to live with anymore. It’s ridiculous to expect people to have to struggle with that situation for no common-sense reason. It’s crazy.
As International Parenting Expert Rosalind Sedacca so rightly says: “The more aware parents are, the more quickly they can address challenges that come along regarding their children’s behaviour, getting along with their co-parent, adapting to single life and transitioning into a brighter future. We remind parents they are not alone and encourage them to reach out for help, support and useful resources to minimize stress and maximize success.”
So let’s focus on support and empowerment of parents – not inadvertently pushing them into a combative mindset.
For more information about International Child-Centered Divorce Month plus access to all the free gifts and special events taking place in January visit: Divorced Parent Support.
I remember acutely hearing an account by Bob Geldof of what it felt like to arrive at the front door of his old house to collect his children. To ring the bell, and then stand on the doorstep – like a stranger. Hearing that tale all those years ago, I felt the mixture of pain, confusion and horror at what that must have felt like, even though at the time I had never directly experienced family breakup, nor considered myself particularly empathic. But it must surely be a deeply humbling experience.
These days as the Alternative Divorce Guide, I hear many variations of how fathers access their children and the rules by which they are bound, and I still feel that intense compassion for what must be a profoundly painful experience – one that many do not comprehend until it’s too late to change the course of how that particular dance is played out. Because I believe that they do have clear choices in the run up to that day of reckoning. Divorcing dads have plenty of opportunities to practice which steps of the dance they wish to perfect – and my hope is that this short article will help some father’s focus on those stark choices.
I lay these options out in the clear acknowledgment that in a parental alienation or domestic abuse situation – yes, men can be on the receiving end of psychological and physical abuse – then the situation is not so simple. But in the vast majority of cases, this is what is available to you chaps, so please pay attention:
Option no. 1: Don’t turn up on the doorstep at all
You could choose to just not engage at all as a father – perhaps convincing yourself that you can later on rebuild a relationship with your kids after they have left home, or on your own terms, and avoiding the humiliation of having the neighbours watching as you step through the front gate that is no longer ‘your’ front gate, or that uncomfortable shuffling on the doorstep after ringing the bell. Or you may go further and commit suicide. Opt out all together. They say that the suicide rate for men doubles post divorce.
But from the child’s point of view, either option is deeply selfish and damaging. So personally, I would recommend that all parents put their egos away, get some coaching and counselling to deal with their situation, and focus on the love they have for their children. Withdrawing in any way from being an active parent, is a negative choice.
Option no. 2: Not be allowed to come onto the property at all
Exclusion zones enforced by the police may allow you only to wait at the end of the street – or have contact in a specified contact centre with a stranger chaperoning you and your child for limited specified times. It is amazing how many men choose this option. Of course some have it forced upon them unfairly (note earlier caveat) but many choose to be verbally abusive, damage property, make threats. Having a tantrum and smashing a few household items and other outbursts is a good way to ensure you end up not being allowed anywhere near the family home post-divorce.
Anger and emotional pain need to be expressed – but don’t do it in the family abode or in front of your Ex spouse (or even down the telephone line or by email) – because that behaviour can lead you towards a destination that is not a nice place to be. But it is a choice nonetheless, and if you choreograph those steps in the run up to your divorce, don’t be surprised if those formal police warnings turning into a restraining order.
Option no. 3: Not invited in
I always imagine this to be a particularly painful option. People will only invite you in if they want to. And if you spend the months or years preceding this day making your Ex miserable, why are they going to suddenly turn round when they have their own independent front door and ask you in for a cup of tea? Nope – it ain’t going to happen. Even if it’s raining, you can just stand outside while the kids get their boots and coats on.
The relationship you forge during a separation and divorce is your responsibility. Don’t turn round at the end and expect your Ex to forget all those unkind words, that lack of trust, that emotionally bullying. They won’t. This is a common option men choose perhaps because they don’t want to ‘be friends’ with their children’s co-parent. But you don’t need to be friends – or even like each other anymore. But to not even get invited over the threshold when collecting the kids? Come on, that’s shit. Who would want to make that their outcome?
Option no. 4: You have the choice of accepting that offer for a cup of tea
Imagine arriving to collect the kids and being asked in for a cuppa while they get ready. Imagine having a polite, possible stilted at first, conversation about how they are doing at school; did you get the letter about the parent’s evening? When are we going to do the diary about who has the kids over the holidays? What are you doing over Christmas?
As the saying goes, it takes two to Tango – so you can try to blame your Ex as much as you like – but you are the partner in this co-parenting dance, and you may not get to choose the dancehall, or even the music – but you sure as hell get to choose which steps you take and whether you put your children’s experience of co-parenting before your own damaged sense of self worth. Smashed self esteem and a deep sense of injustice can be healed. But in the meantime, it isn’t going to help your children learn how to build healthy relationships by them watching their parents treat each other without any respect. Or compassion.
Imagine having the opportunity to say: “Thanks for the offer of a coffee – but we need to get going.” ?
No being stranded on the doorstep. No exclusion zone.
And apart from how that might feel for you – how is that going to feel for your kids?
Four clear choices. The preparation starts earlier than you think. Which are you going to choose?
An interview with Family Law Arbitrator Suzanne Kingston about a significant innovation to the world of Family Law:
Family law arbitration is a relatively new concept. The Financial Scheme was launched in April 2012 and since that time over 100 financial arbitrations have taken place. The scope of the Financial Scheme is wide and basically covers most financial applications that a Court would deal with as a consequence of the breakdown of a relationship. This means sorting out finances on divorce, resolving a cohabitation dispute and dealing with financial applications raised by unmarried parents. There are just a few topics which are not within scope and these are the divorce itself, bankruptcy or insolvency matters, welfare benefits and issues over the recognition of a foreign matter or divorce.
The Latest Innovation in the world of Family Law
The Children Scheme launched on 18 July 2016 and deals with issues in relation to children such as where a child should live, visiting arrangements and education issues. The issues which are not within the scope are applications to have a child returned to this country from another country, applications to remove a child from this country, any dispute relating to the authorisation of life changing or lift threatening medical treatment and any case where a party lacks capacity under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
The time is ripe for family arbitration to become the ‘go to’ way of resolving family disputes.
There is huge pressure on Court resources and clients are looking around for other potential ways of dealing with their cases. The benefits of the Financial and Children Arbitration Schemes are clear. The parties can chose their own decision maker from a list of Accredited Arbitrators on the IFLA website.
- The arbitrator stays the same throughout the case unlike the Court proceedings where it is very rare to have a dedicated Judge to deal with your case.
- The arbitrator knows all of the facts and details of the case and has this information at their fingertips.
- The Court is currently moving towards an era of transparency and openness whereas confidentiality is a key concept in arbitration.
- Arbitration is more informal than the Court and one of the key concepts is party autonomy – the parties have their say and the arbitrator will listen to them!
- There are no set tracks in arbitration and so the case can be dealt with as quickly or slowly as the parties want.
- Although parties have to pay for the arbitrator, most arbitrators are charging relatively modest fixed fees and so the overall process is often cheaper than the Court process.
What cases are ideal for arbitration?
The sorts of cases that are ideal for arbitration are as follows:
- A relatively modest financial case where parties want to ensure that they have a quick and effective adjudication and expeditiously as possible.
- A big case involving celebrities where confidentiality is a key component.
- Once you have been to Court and seen how long the Court process can take and you know all of the papers are ready to go to the arbitrator, it can be a good idea then to suggest arbitration and get a listing for a hearing say within a month.
- A variation of maintenance application where historically in the Court context a great deal of information is sought but not actually required. Issues in relation to the children such as which school they should attend, who they should spend time with during the summer holidays and sorting out Christmas contact disputes.
The ‘Rolls Royce’ family law service without the price tag
Several of my clients have been through the arbitration process and commented how informal it is and how much more ‘user friendly’ than the Court process. They have been impressed by the ‘Rolls Royce’ service the arbitrator gave but for a much cheaper sum than you would think.
I have also acted as arbitrator and was able to deal with a complex financial case in a fraction of the time that the Court process would have taken. In addition, we had a couple of hearings leading up to the trial which were undertaken by Skype/conference call to suit the clients. We said that the hearing would start at 9.30am and indeed it did! Everyone kept to a sensible timetable and I promised that I would write my arbitral award within 28 days and delivered it well within that timeframe.
As well as professionals championing the arbitration schemes, the Judges in the Family Division have embraced arbitration and the President of the Family Division has provided encouragement and support in Judgments in several cases as well as issuing Practice Guidance in November 2015.
For more information about arbitration in family law please see www.ifla.org.uk or www.resolution.org.uk or www.familyarbitrator.com.
Suzanne Kingston: Withers LLP
Suzanne Kingston is a family partner at Withers LLP. She is widely known for her expertise in all aspects of family work, in particular the resolution of complex financial issues for high net worth individuals. She is an accredited arbitrator in both children and financial arbitrations and has spearheaded the arbitration training for IFLA.
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