Legal Advice - Relationship splits are difficult for everyone involved

Relationship splits are difficult for everyone involved. Here's some expert advice from local solicitors

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Experiencing relationship breakdown is tough, especially if you have children and need to keep in touch as parents. This is generally true for everyone, whatever the circumstances of the breakdown. It is normal to be fearful of what may happen; whether you will lose touch with your children, or be left to manage those difficult times on your own. You may also feel guilty and inadequate; perhaps about failing your children; whether by failing to keep the family together or working through difficulties, or perhaps making the wrong decision about your choice of partner. Anxiety about what will happen next financially is natural, as is anger and sadness. Strongly felt emotions will reduce over time, but that can be difficult to believe.

Working out a new and different relationship as parents rather than partners can be very daunting, especially at a time when emotions are running high and practical issues need to be resolved. The key to all this is making sure that you allow yourself to find and use the support you need; that is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family. It is not a sign of weakness to acknowledge that help is needed, since separation is one of the most stressful events in any lifetime. Now is the time to call in favours from friends and family and use their support.

Consult a counsellor to get independent objective therapeutic support to help you deal with your emotions and work out your immediate and future priorities. Access practical support if you need it, to help with financial worries and planning for the future. Explore the options that are available to help you negotiate the legal issues arising - download our free app Divorce UK and consult our website! Try to make sure you do not take irreversible decisions when you are most vulnerable.

On the legal side, do not assume you need to rush off to court. For a minority of people that is essential to protect your interests. For the majority, though, there are better ways. Consider mediation to help you and your partner to resolve issues yourselves and to reach an agreement that you think and feel is fair.

Your communications and negotiation with your partner will be facilitated by a mediator who is skilled in handling difficult emotional relationships and situations. Alternatively the collaborative process may suit you if you need the support of your lawyer present in discussions.

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You and your partner each instruct a collaboratively trained lawyer, who will help you to resolve the issues in a series of meetings which you all attend. Or, if communication is good between you, perhaps taking some initial advice from a specialist family lawyer in the background may be enough to help you reach agreement yourselves and then ask your lawyer to prepare the paperwork you need. It is important that you make an informed decision about the right process for you, with the help of lawyers who can offer you all the options.

Alison BullTeam leader, family lawyer, collaborative lawyer and mediatorMills & Reeve LLP, 235 5424

Solicitors’ comments...

The breakdown of a relationship is one of the most stressful situations a person has to deal with. So it’s essential you receive the right support and advice during this difficult time. You need the right type of person to help you navigate through the legal process, who can discuss all the options available to you and help you identify the best way forward for you and your family. My expertise as a family solicitor, mediator and collaborative lawyer, and my sympathetic approach, means I am well placed to support you through this period of uncertainty.

Janet Baines, Trained Mediator, Collaborative Lawyer and PartnerFamily and Divorce DepartmentWalker Smith Way solicitorsjbaines@walkersmithway.com0844 346

The welfare of the children is the most important consideration when a marriage breaks down. It is often possible for parents to share the care of their children after they separate. It is always worth remembering that it is the children’s right to have a relationship with both parents rather then the other way round

Diana WilliamsCollaborative Lawyer, Mediator and Family Lawyer at Cullimore Dutton, 20 White Friars, Chester CH1 1XS telephone number 01244 356 789. e.mail

The key question when separating is how to do it with speed and dignity. Severing ties needs careful planning, and Court is no longer the only route to a new beginning. As Family Barristers, we often listen to clients who are unhappily “stuck” in a court process which turns out to be longer, more stressful, and less decisive than they imagined. Alternative processes like mediation and collaborative resolutions can be cheaper, faster, and more effective.

Arlene MilneCobden House Chambers, 19 Quay Street, Manchester. M3 Tel: 0161 833 6000

It is a misconception that when there is a divorce that it is inevitable it will involve protracted and costly court proceedings. The landscape has changed and specialist family solicitors can help resolve problems for a couple by utilising other processes such as mediation and collaborative law. At Storrar Cowdry we have fully trained solicitors in these disciplines.

Darlene Storrar or Elaine RichardsonStorrar CowdryIndia House21, Castle StreetChester CH1 2DSTel:01244 or