How to divorce without fighting

Sophie Capo Bianco, Senior Associate Solicitor at Expatriate Law, provides tips for divorcing amicably.

Divorce is commonly known as being one of the most stressful events someone can experience in their life. It is normal for someone to feel an array of emotions ranging from anger, denial, sadness and indifference. Once it is evident that divorce is inevitable, it does not mean that the process has to be aggressive or destructive. It is in everyone’s best interests, and in particular for separating couples who have children, to try and resolve any disputes as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

It is very important for both parties to engage throughout the divorce process. If one party buries their head in the sand and refuses to engage or ignores court orders then they should realise that it will not prevent a divorce being granted nor a final financial order being reached. It will only increase hostility between the separating couple which will be extremely difficult especially if they have young children. Separating parents need to retain a long term working relationship for the sake of their children; they will have to see each other regularly at handovers for contact and have conversations regarding certain aspects of their children’s welfare and upbringing.

It is essential that both parties are honest while negotiating a financial settlement. The wealthier party may try and conceal their assets, which not only creates resentment and tension, it may also lead to preventative emergency applications being made to the court by the other party. This will undoubtedly prolong the legal process, increase legal fees which the party hiding the assets will have to pay and have a damaging psychological effect not only on the separating couples but also their children who commonly become stuck in the middle of an acrimonious divorce.

One cannot expect to obtain a settlement for maintenance or a capital lump sum when the money does not exist, so it is crucial that both parties adopt a reasonable stance. If there is only one income within the household then after a divorce it will need to be stretched over two households instead; therefore compromises will have to be made. Usually, the more you argue, the more you spend on legal costs which will inevitably decrease the value of the matrimonial pot. A High Court Judge in London said earlier this week that there should be fixed pricing in matrimonial disputes when he gave judgment on a case where the parties ended up spending a third of the matrimonial pot on legal fees. It is important to bear in mind the cost to benefit ratio under these circumstances.

Obtaining sound independent legal advice will also help to try and resolve the process smoothly as well as to dispel common myths. There can be a lack of trust between the parties and one party may not believe what the other has told them about the divorce process so independent legal advice can put both parties concerns at ease and help them move forward to achieve a reasonable and fair settlement. Attending mediation and / or round table meetings with your respective solicitors can help to iron out all the outstanding issues in a few sessions.

Divorce can have a devastating effect on a separated family if it becomes bitter and antagonistic. The solicitors at Expatriate Law work under the Code of Resolution, which is an organisation run by family lawyers, whose aim is to approach family problems in a non-confrontational way and to consider the needs of the whole family and in particular the needs of the children.

Sophie Capo-Bianco is an English qualified solicitor and expatriate family law specialist at Expatriate Law, where she is based in the Dubai office.