When a relationship breaks down, there are many practical and emotional issues that need to be resolved.

In these articles we look at some of the best ways of doing so.

When partners separate, each of them is likely to have particular worries about life in the future. These often include practical questions such as:

  • who is going to live in the house?
  • will the house have to be sold?
  • what are going to be the arrangements for the children?
  • will one of us have to give up work or, alternatively, work more hours?
  • how are we going to work out financial matters?
  • will a family business or a farm have to be sold?

Separation sometimes comes unexpectedly and therefore as a shock to one of the partners. In other cases, it is the end of a long period of increasing unhappiness and discussion.

Either way, when the moment comes, each partner is often emotionally drained. In that state of mind, whilst sometimes there are matters which need to be sorted out urgently, (for example, to prevent disposal of assets or even removal of children) it is invariably true that neither partner is ready to make long term decisions.

When Gwyneth Paltrow said that she and Chris Martin were going through a process of “consciously uncoupling”, she was mocked by many. But there was much sense in what she said.

Although Americans and the British may take a different approach to examining the psychological aspects of emotional issues, the truth is that a period of reflection to allow the most extreme emotions to settle is, in most cases, very helpful. As one commentator put it, the purpose of such a pause is to “release the trauma of a break up, reclaim your power and reinvent your life.”

The family team at Michelmores take very seriously the emotional health of our clients. Our lawyers are experienced and trained to make an assessment of the best approach to problems to suit each client's needs and lead to a practical and realistic solution.

Every case can differ greatly, some clients may say “I want to take him for every penny and he is not going to see the children” whereas others could say “I want to sort this out as fairly and quickly as possible with the least disruption for the children”.

There are many different ways to approach the process of resolving the legal aspects of family breakdown. This can include:

  • discussions direct between the separating partners, followed by legal advice if an agreement is reached
  • negotiation between the parties through their solicitors
  • if negotiations fail to reach agreement, the issue of court proceedings
  • mediation
  • the “collaborative” process
  • arbitration

Sometimes there can be a mixture between some or all of those processes.