Amicable exists to help separating couples achieve better outcomes for their families. Too many families emerge from divorce damaged and scarred. We can’t prevent divorce, but we think it is a sad event not a bad event, with the focus being on people being able to move on successfully with their lives.
A legal separation is very similar to a divorce. It allows you to live apart whilst remaining married. Many couples chose to do this informally without going to the trouble of recording their separation with the court and paying court and legal fees.
To be legally separated you must file a separation petition at court – the same form as a divorce petition and pay a court fee of £365. If you wish to divorce after you have separated you will have to re-submit a divorce petition (the same document again) and pay an additional court fee of £550.
Most people don’t bother legally separating and chose instead to separate without recording it with the court. This is perfectly fine and has no impact on the reasons you can use in your divorce petition or the outcome of your financial or children agreements. There are, however, some special reasons that may influence why you wish to legally separate:
Your religious beliefs do not agree with divorce
You’ve been married for under a year
Below are some common questions to help you decide whether a legal separation is the right option for you.
Will our financial agreements be legally binding if we legally separate?
No. Your interim arrangements are not legally binding – even if you are legally separated. Much like a prenup and postnup, a legal separation agreement isn’t enforceable in court. However, legal separation agreements, prenups and postnups will be considered by the judge if you do end up in a dispute.
It’s a common myth that legal separation agreements end future claims against each other, this isn’t true. You will still have the same financial responsibilities as you will still be married / in a civil partnership. It’s more of a verbal communication between you confirmed in writing and recorded by the courts. If you want a legally enforceable document that ends any future claims, you should consider a divorce with consent order instead.
How much does a legal separation agreement cost?
The courts in England and Wales charge £365 for you to file a legal separation agreement (legal term is judicial separation petitions). It’s the same form you would need to fill in if you were getting a divorce or ending a civil partnership. If you ask a solicitor to write up your financial agreements this will add additional costs. As its still not legally binding, even if a solicitor writes it up, you may consider writing the agreement yourself.
How long does it take to get a legal separation agreement?
Your documents will need to be processed by the courts and unfortunately, the courts in England and Wales are slow. It takes on average four to six months for your legal separation to work its way through the system.
amicable tips if you’re considering a legal separation
Seek advice before heading down this route. There are cheaper, faster, options that will save you hassle, time and money. Get in touch for a free 15-minute advice call here.
Falling out of love (no drama – just drifted apart)
Values have changed over time and we no longer agree on important things )
Lack of support emotionally through life’s changes
Lack of sex and emotional connection
Unbalanced roles especially housework and looking after children
Fallouts with family members
Arguing over money
Stressful working hours/feeling second in line to the other person’s career
Having an affair
With many couples (approximately 42% of all married couples) divorcing, unreasonable behaviour remains the prominent reasons couple use in the absence of no-fault divorce in England and Wales. So, you are not alone and it is possible to remain amicable when using this reason to divorce. Here are amicable’s top tips on remaining amicable if you’re using unreasonable behaviour as your reason for divorce.
1 .Remember, it’s a private document
Only you, your ex, the court (and any third party such as amicable, online services or lawyers) will see the examples in the document. So, it will never be seen by the public.
2. Write the examples yourself so your ex doesn’t have to or vice versa
To reduce the chances of you rowing, it can work for some couples to write their own examples about themselves so the other person doesn’t have to.
3. Be pragmatic
If you want to get divorced and the other five reasons for divorce aren’t open to you, at this point in time, unreasonable behaviour may be your only option. (unless you’re willing to wait for two years separation or five) Therefore, be pragmatic about the court documents and view them as a means to an end.
4. Focus on the future
If you can be pragmatic and focus on the futures you both want when the divorce is finalised, this can pave the way for an amicable split. This is especially important if you’re transitioning from parents to co-parents.
As a single parent, I always knew that my ex would want to introduce his new partner to our children once we were divorced. When it happened, I went through a rollercoaster of emotions and instinctively I felt protective and defensive. So here’s my story and tips for co-parenting when your ex has a new partner.
I decided early on, to take a positive view and embrace the fact that our children would have another adult in their lives who could eventually provide additional love and support. It was incredibly hard to make that choice but ultimately, it’s a decision that has had a very positive outcome for our children and my co-parenting relationship with my ex.
I believe children can never have enough adult guidance and can gain experiences in so many ways. It’s often said that communities raise children and my experience has shown me that lots of different adult influences are a good thing and not something to fear or avoid.
The hardest thing to accept has been my ex’s partner is able to spend one to one time with each of my children, something I still unable to do. With three young children and no family nearby, the luxury of baking a cake or going for cookies and babycinos with one child is out of the question. Wherever we go, we go as a foursome. This is something I have had to accept and tried hard not to feel jealous about; after all, my children are benefiting from the individual time and I am thankful for that.
Deciding to be positive about the new person in my children’s’ lives has meant that they have followed suit. If I had been negative, then it would have been difficult for them to build a relationship with my ex’s new partner. This would have caused difficulties in his new relationship and would have had a knock-on effect on the good co-parenting relationship that we have established.
It’s not always been easy to feel positive about my ex’s new partner. But some simple ideas have helped me cope and do the right thing. Here are a few simple rules that I think are crucial:
Talk to your ex before either of you introduce a new partner. Plan how and when to tell your children. Make sure your ex is aware it is happening, and they don’t find out from one of the children.
Accept neither of you can stop the other from introducing someone new (except in the rare circumstances where there are safeguarding issues). Hopefully, you will be able to talk and agree how and when this happens but if not, try to accept it has happened and move on.
You may want to meet your ex’s new partner, but if that isn’t possible try to trust that your ex will not introduce anyone unsuitable to the children. He or she now has a new life and accepting you have no say over it can be hard.
Never talk in a derogatory manner about your ex’s new partner, especially in front or in earshot of the children. This is unfair to them as they should be able to form a new relationship with the new person without worrying that you are going to be upset/annoyed with them.
Talk about boundaries. The new partner will ideally respect you and not overstep the boundaries in their relationship with your children. But this may be hard especially if they do not have children of their own. Try to get a dialogue going with them and talk about anything you feel uncomfortable about. Try not to be defensive – no one will ever take your place in your child’s life.
There will be times when it is difficult, and you want to shout about how unfair it is. Friends are an amazing outlet for this. Once you have accepted a new person into your children’s lives and welcomed the advantages that this will bring it will massively benefit the entire family.
Everyone is different, but I have found that I can have a relationship with my ex’s partner. Knowing her brings comfort as I know who my children are with when they aren’t with me and I know who they are talking about. Although she doesn’t always get it right, she’s trying and so am I.
If you’d like to talk to someone about how and when to introduce a new partner, or how to bring up the issue with your ex, you can speak to one of our experienced amicable divorce coaches on 0203 004 4695.
Here it comes again, Valentine’s Day; the day when the whole world seems to be loved up and happy. A weather girl will propose live on air, flowers will double in price and restaurants will be filed with loved-up newbies or bored long-termers trying to disguise a row.
If you’re divorcing or separating, Valentine’s Day can feel overwhelming, bringing into sharp contrast feelings of loss. But February 14th doesn’t have to be this way. With a few simple re-framing techniques, this blog will share some tips on making the most out of the day.
Sad vs Bad
Feeling sad and feeling bad are two separate things. Recognising the difference can be a freeing life-skill. Feeling sad when a relationship ends is natural and healthy. Let yourself be sad – cry and express your sorrow. Grieving is important and allows you to move forward with your life. There are many phases of grief but expressing the sadness is the important first step. Use the 14th as a day of release and kick-start your recovery.
2. Heal, don’t reel
Whilst anger is a natural part of the grieving process getting stuck in anger and becoming bitter isn’t helpful. Healing is about embracing the new possibilities and opportunities. You might need to learn new skills to this – learning to be alone, and enjoy your own company is key. Start small – having coffee on your own and work up to doing it without a prop such as laptop or book. Practice sitting comfortably with your own thoughts – you’ll be amazed how this will build your confidence and self-belief.
If you know it’s going to be tough this year then gather your friends around you. Be honest with them and let them know this will be a tricky day for you. Suggest something nice to do, such as a cinema trip, evening swim or just a takeaway. Don’t be shy to say how you feel and ask for support. Again, its an important part of the healing process. If your feelings are so debilitating that friends aren’t enough then seek professional help. A counsellor will provide a supportive environment for you to work through your hurt.
4. Expand your definition of love
Valentine’s doesn’t just have to me about romance. The Greeks (and psychologists) reckoned there were many types of love including romantic/sexual love, long-term love based on duty and important in marriage, playful love (flirtatious and uncommitted), friendship love, parental/family love, universal love (love of strangers/mankind) and self-love. With so many kinds of love to celebrate you can redefine Valentine’s Day… And don’t forget pet love (my own invention)… walk that dog and stroke that cat!
5. Spread the love
I’m a great believer in self-love as it underpins our ability to love others. However, in our increasingly ‘entitled’ world I think maybe if we focus on selfless love occasionally we’d all be in a better place. Don’t indulge yourself this year – do something kind for someone else. Doing something loving for someone else (friend or stranger) may feel far more rewarding a way less narcissistic and help you feel good about February 14th again.
So, whatever stage you’re at, I hope this helps you to navigate the day. And, to all our customers, hang in there, if you’re finding this time tricky, give us a call and talk through with one of our coaches.
Splitting your assets (and your debts) when you decide to divorce can feel overwhelming. However, a few simple steps can help make things clearer and reduce the stress and strain on your emotions. If you’re feeling daunted by sorting out your finances, this blog will help you understand how to share assets in a divorce.
Start with the big picture
It’s worth bearing in mind that most people must accept a change in lifestyle when they divorce. Rarely is there enough money to go around so compromise is the all-important word. Setting realistic goals for where you want to be after your divorce and avoiding an entitlement mindset will help you stay more amicable.
Setting realistic goals means creating a picture of what you want the future to look like, If you have children, this will ideally have your kids at the center of it – starting with how you intend to each look after any children and where you will all live. Try and agree on the big-picture principals with your ex before moving onto the detailed steps below.
Work out the details
Make a list of all your assets and debts – you can do this on a simple spreadsheet or you can use the amicable app to help you (we have a pre-populated list of all the typical assets and debts people have)
Show your partner evidence such as bank statements to make your finances transparent
Find out the value of your pensions (request a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) from your pension provider/s) – This can take up to three months with some pensions so request it early
Work out what income you each earn (don’t forget to add in any benefits or rental income)
Work out how much money you will need to live on in the future (look at your outgoings). If your income doesn’t cover your outgoings investigate benefits you may be entitled to, spousal support or cutting back if that’s possible
Check if you are entitled to tax credits
Think about how and when you will return to work to support yourself if you’re not currently working. What sort of wage or salary do you think you can earn?
Once you have gathered all your information and shared it with your partner, talk to them about how you want to split things. Try and have options rather than a single proposal. It’s worth remembering, the law does not have a defined formula for dividing assets.
To make fair agreements, you must think about what the courts in England & Wales take into consideration; the needs of any children, your financial needs, your earning capacity, the contribution you have made (staying at home to raise children counts equally to earning money outside of the home), the length of the marriage, and your age and any health considerations.
The starting pointing is a 50/50 split. But if one of you has a greater need, for example, because you are housing the children or earn a lot less, then the split may be different.
Protecting yourselves with a consent order
If you have assets to divide such as property or pensions you should consider having consent order. A consent order is a document explaining how you have split your assets that is legally binding. It usually contains a ‘clean break clause’ which means you cannot come back for more in the future. It’s worth having a clean break consent order even if you don’t have assets so that any your build up in the future (or inherit) are protected, Just getting divorced without a consent order won’t protect you from your ex from making a claim against you in the future.
Need some support?
Sorting out your finances yourself is completely possible and so is getting support to finalise your split with little expense. But, sometimes going to court is unavoidable if one person won’t cooperate. If your partner is hiding or disposing of assets or being abusive (or similar) it’s best to seek the help of a lawyer (we can recommend one).
If you’d like to get started on an amicable financial settlement but need help to move forward, amicable provides the following tools and services to help you navigate agreeing on a fair financial split with your ex:
Download amicable’s free app and invite your partner – there is a whole section on finances including what you need to sort out and consider to get started
A big consideration, when parting ways, is where each of you is going to live. If you have a low income (or no income at all) then finding your own place can seem daunting – and being granted a mortgage so you can buy a property on your own, the stuff of dreams.
However, a new type of mortgage could help to make that dream become a reality. The Joint Borrower, Sole Proprietor mortgage is a standard mortgage with a technical twist. And it’s a great option if you’re choosing to live apart, but both want to provide two stable homes for your children.
How does the Joint Borrower, Sole Proprietor Mortgage work?
The mortgage is held on a joint basis – with two incomes taken into consideration – but the deeds (ownership of the property) are held in the name of just one of you. In other words, one of you will own the house, but the mortgage will be shared. This means that you can own a house or flat of your own but have an ex-partner pay towards the property, and a home for your children.
Where can I apply for this mortgage?
The Joint Borrower, Sole proprietor mortgage is available from lots of banks and building societies. Contact individual providers to find out if it is something they offer, or speak to an independent mortgage advisor who can guide you both through the mortgage process.
Will I still need a deposit?
Yes. You will still need to provide a sizeable deposit – probably around 10%.
What if thing change in the future?
The first thing you should do is draft a legal document called a ‘Deed of Trust’ between whoever is going to be the legal owner and the second person paying the mortgage. This means that if the legal owner can’t keep up with their repayments, the non-legal owner will be protected. You can also set out what will happen if either of you want to leave the mortgage.
Will both of us make money if the value of the property goes up?
No. If you aren’t the legal owner, you won’t gain from any potential increase in value of the property – be it rental income or an increase in the sale value. But sharing the increase in value is something you can write into the Deed of Trust, so you can both benefit.
What happens if I want to get a mortgage on another property?
It’s worth bearing in mind that being on this joint mortgage may affect your ability to get a new mortgage on another property, or to refinance on an existing property in the future.
What happens if I want to leave the mortgage?
It might be that arrangements have to change, particularly if one of you meets someone new.
If you have a Deed of Trust then the non-legal owner should be able to give notice that they would like to leave the mortgage. The legal owner then has to agree to re-mortgage the property, or sell it.
If there isn’t a Deed of Trust it’s a little bit more complicated. You would both have to agree to sell the property, or the person who isn’t the legal owner would need to get released by the mortgage lender, or – in the worst case scenario – get a court order. Of course, it’s always best to avoid involving the court if possible so best to think ahead!
For more information on the Joint Borrower, Sole Proprietor mortgage contact The Financial Planning Group. For advice on how to separate amicably with a fair financial split – please contact us on 020 3004 4695.
Regardless of whose decision it was to divorce, the end of a marriage can bring about a rollercoaster of unexpected feelings of shame, self-doubt, fear, and insecurity. You might worry that you’ll never be happy again. You might wonder whether you’ll ever find “The One” – if that’s something you believe in.
To say that divorce can be stressful is an understatement. Between dividing up belongings, agreeing how you will co-parent your children (and pets), dealing with financial issues, and navigating the emotions, it’s no wonder so many people experience unexplained weight loss following their divorce.
One way to cope with the ending of your marriage is by turning it into a new beginning. As one chapter closes, another begins. Many people use a divorce as a chance to let go of bad habits and embrace new ones.
For instance, postmenopausal women who go through a divorce or separation have reported experiencing weight loss, increased physical activity, and positive changes in their health. Best of all, researchers found that the women’s weight loss was not tied to negative emotions. On the contrary, they were using their divorce as an excuse to “consciously engage in healthier behaviours.”
A newfound appreciation for self-care is just one way many recent divorcees of all ages are using divorce as a reason to focus their attention inwards to self-improvement. With the understandable levels of stress that divorce brings, make stress reduction a daily priority.
There are a number of ways you can improve your physical, mental and emotional well-being after a divorce. Physical fitness is a great way to boost your mood and relieve stress while coping with negative emotions. Your divorce also naturally causes you to gravitate towards supportive friends, family, co-workers, and other people in your life who are there for you throughout this difficult time in your life.
Of course, if you’re not used to focusing on your own self-care, it can feel unnatural at first. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few ideas:
Take a book (or audiobook) with you everywhere you go. Getting lost in the pages of a book world provides you with an “escape” whenever big emotions or troubling thoughts come to mind.
Visit your favorite local beach or park. Walking, jogging or running encourages you to be physically active, while reconnecting with nature soothes the mind.
Spend time with animals. From playing with your dog to spending time at a cat cafe, spending quality time with animals has been shown to lower blood pressure while boosting self-esteem.
Do good deeds for others. Compassionate acts help others while also improving your self-confidence, providing a sense of accomplishment and perspective, and introducing you to supportive, empathetic people.
If you’re currently in the throes of a divorce, hang in there. Even if it feels like your world is crumbling around you, you’ll eventually get through this moment in time. With some resilience and perseverance, you can even use it as a fresh start. Good luck on taking your first brave steps towards living a healthier, happier life.
Julie is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. She spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways. You can find out more about Julie here.
In the UK, almost half of all households have pets, with the pet population at around 54 million.* That’s a lot of furry friends. And with so many of us owning animals, around 50% of separating couples are faced with the difficult question: who gets to keep the pet?
At a time of extreme emotional upheaval and uncertainty, a pet really can seem like man’s (or woman’s) best friend. It’s no surprise that negotiations over ownership can get heated, with both parties digging their heels in and fighting like, well, cats and dogs. In fact, a survey conducted by The Dogs Trust revealed that a quarter of all couples believe their dog would be the most important consideration if they separated.
So how do you decide who keeps the canine or the kitty? What does the law say? What happens if you’re not married? And is it possible to share the care of your precious pooch post-split?
Who should get primary care?
As with child custody, it is best to try and reach an amicable solution between you. If both of you are emotionally attached to your pet, then start by being realistic about where it would be fairer for the animal to live. You can’t easily ask the pet to share their thoughts, so it’s down to you!
Which of you has a more suitable home? Will the animal have access to outside space? Does one of you live on a safer street? Think, too, about who will have more time to spend with the animal. If it’s a dog, then who will be able to walk it regularly? Always try and put the pet’s welfare first.
Can you afford to house the hound?
When thinking about where your pet is going to live, you also need to bear in mind the cost of keeping it. In the UK we spend a whopping £4.5 billion each year looking after our pets, and the lifetime cost of a dog can be upwards of £20,000! Draw up a list of costs before you commit to taking the pet: on top of food there are other large outgoings like insurance, vet bills or kennel costs.
What would the children want?
If you have children too then you may decide it is better for the pet to live in the same house as them to stop them from suffering another loss. If it’s not possible for the kids and pets to stay together then work out when they will get to spend time with each other. Plan in some doggy dates!
If a decision can’t be reached, what does the law say?
Under English law, pets are considered property – just like the car, kettle, or the couch. So, even if they are a much-loved member of the family, their welfare isn’t taken into consideration in the same way as it is for children.
No matter who has spent more time looking after the animal, or who is better placed to look after it going forward, if a dispute arises as to who gets to keep the pet it might simply come down to whose money was used to buy it.
What if I’m not married?
If you are not married or in a civil partnership, a court is even more likely to make the decision on strictly legal principles – the pet belongs to the person who paid for it. To prove ownership you will need to provide evidence in the form of receipts and invoices or a Kennel Club registration.
Can we share the care?
Of course! It can be tricky logistically but remember that it is possible to approach the care of a pet in the same way as with children, and effectively co-parent. If you decide to share custody of the creature, think about making a parenting plan: what days will you each have the pet and how will you share the cost of care? Make sure that you are both on the same page from the outset. Downloading amicable’s free app is a good starting point for organising and sorting your separation with your ex.
Families across the UK are enjoying the Christmas holidays, but some couples will not be joining in the festive cheer this year. The holidays are often a tricky time for couples whose relationships have been under pressure for a while. Add in the intense time spent together, financial pressure, extended family critiques and unrealistic expectations (nothing worse than happy people’s Facebook posts) – and it can spell disaster for some relationships.
More relationships break down in January than at other times of the year. This phenomenon has led to the first working Monday in January being dubbed ‘Divorce Day’ by the media. Divorce Day, which this year will fall on Monday 8th January, sees searches on the internet and enquiries to divorce providers peak. Over 40,500 people in the UK are expected to search online for divorce throughout January with much of this falling on and around 8th January. This is nearly 25% higher than the usual traffic.
If you’ve bottled things up over Christmas and have been putting on a brave for the sake of your children, family or friends, then the earliest opportunity to do something about your broken relationship may well be the first day back to work. As everyone’s opportunities to get some private time vary, In reality ‘Divorce Day’ is more a case of ‘divorce month’ than any single day in January.
You are not alone if your relationship is in crisis. Relate estimates that 1 in 5 relationships are on the verge of breakdown across the UK and are causing significant mental or physical distress to couples. If you’re entering the festive period with trepidation, whatever stage you’re at, we have support and advice to see you through.
Don’t rush into anything
If you’re not sure it’s over, make sure you dedicate some proper ‘time out’ to really consider whether separation is the best option. Click here to be guided through how to do this.
If its the end of the road, here’s how to tell your partner (sensitively)
Divorce is a journey and can take around five months to sort out, so considering this and the communication you’ll have to still have with ex is important. Use this guide to prepare for this tricky situation that will set you up for an amicable separation.
Make sure you’re emotionally prepared for the journey ahead
It’s a marathon, not a sprint and the better emotionally prepared you are the more likely you will be to achieve an amicable split. Use our change curve to plot your own and your partner’s emotional state and seek help to make sure you are both ready.
Want to get divorced but not sure where to start?
Use amicable’s break-up checklist for a list of all the things you need to consider and sort out. Divorce can seem daunting but breaking things up into manageable chunks will ease stress and ensure you don’t encounter any surprises along the way.
As Divorce Day approaches, use this time to prepare emotionally. Focus on goals you want to achieve in the new year and what steps you can take to make them a reality. Consider what’s best for any children of the family and put things in place to ensure all family members can access support when they need it. amicable will be available over Christmas and New Year so please get in touch if you’d like any free advice on your personal situation.
Divorce and separation is an emotional journey with legal and financial consequences. Whilst the legal and financial processes are usually well considered, the emotional journey is often neglected. If you’ve been through a divorce, you’ve likely experienced the turbulent emotions a separation brings.
Perhaps what is less well known is how long it can take to emotionally recover. Stats show that it can take up to two years to get over a divorce. Divorcing is often referred to as the second most traumatic life experience after the death of a loved one. It makes sense to take care of yourself during this time. Your mental health is important, and you can only protect your family’s wellbeing if you are well yourself.
Here are some amicable tips on how to prevent the negative impact on your mental health.
Don’t rush in to divorce and don’t rush your partner
Take a moment to plot where you are on the chart below. As a general rule, the ‘initiator’ of the divorce is usually further along this curve. Progressing too fast usually ends in conflict and can feel frustrating if you’re the one further along this change curve. Rushing things can also be expensive, if you’re not entirely sure what you want and are arguing, this can mean prolonging the process and making changes halfway through.
If you feel low and need help, be assured that there is so much out there to help you.
Visit your GP – cognitive behavioural therapy is no drug option that you’ll likely be offered
Try counselling – This website will help you find local counsellors in your local area
Get help online – you can also get help from online therapists or from online forums who have people just like you trying to navigate the emotional journey
Help raise awareness
There are still taboos around divorce and separation that lead people to feel ashamed about the breakdown of the marriage. Whatever you do, don’t be hard on yourself or bottle things up. Divorce is a sad thing, not a bad thing. Speaking up about how you feel is not only good for your mental health but will also give strength to others who are going through the same thing.
Take care of yourself physically
Divorce can be a stressful, uncertain time so distracting yourself by doing positive things for your body and mind will help reduce the negative impact stress can have. It’s very easy to distract yourself with alcohol, food, staying out late etc but the key is, that’s fine just not all the time. Remember, when you’re very stressed you’re more likely to make rash decisions. So, focus on this as an incentive to moderate your blowouts and focus on your health.