Alicia Cenizo, family partner in our West End office, reflects on a client enquiry as to whether divorce must always be a battle.
A client very recently asked me “does a divorce have to be a fight?”
The answer to that is no! This is especially prevalent now that we have the No Fault Divorce regime. Prior to that, unless a married couple had been separated for 2 or 5 years there had to be an element of blame in order to make an application. Now both parties can agree to go their separate ways amicably and can even make a joint application.
Quite often the most contentious part of the process is settling the matrimonial finances. However, again, acrimony is not always necessary where you are able to discuss proposals between you or through mediation. Then, once heads of terms have been agreed or you walk away from mediation with a memorandum of understanding which sets out what you have agreed, this simply needs to be transformed into a consent order and filed at court.
The same goes for child arrangements. If parents are able to agree who the child shall live with, if not both parents, and how long they will spend with the other parent then if some formality is required this can also be detailed in a consent order and filed at the court for approval and sealing. This gives all involved clarity and detail in the long term. It alleviates the need to revisit discussions ahead of each school holiday for example, because the parents can simply look back at the order and know exactly where and with whom the children should be at any point in the year.
All of these approaches keep animosity to a minimum, which is especially important when there are children involved. No matter what, a former couple will inevitably be in each other’s lives to some degree for at least 18 years so maintaining some sort of harmonious relationship is imperative for their own wellbeing, but most importantly it is in the best interests of their shared offspring!