Three Top Tips for a Stress – Free Divorce

One thing that I have never been able to get used to in my years of practice as a Solicitor dealing with family disputes, is the dynamics involved when a relationship breaks down.

I recall the first time I completed a divorce and telling the client that I was sorry to tell them that the divorce had been finalized.  This client (who was the petitioner, ie the one who applied for the divorce) gave out a cry of happiness.  I was stunned – how could this be? What was so good about getting a divorce.

What I later realised, however, is that we all make mistakes.  And sometimes, we mistakenly marry the wrong person.  If that happens…a divorce is inevitable.  In the UK, typically, one in three marriages end in divorce, and of these many involve families with children.

At the end of the day if two people (or sometimes one person) decides their marriage is a mistake then ending the marriage may be the only way forward.

breaking up couples

So, although I despair when I  hear that a marriage has ended in a divorce, I have set out below three things couples need to do to make sure that their divorce is as stress free as possible…after all, in family breakdowns there really are no winners..

  1. Make a decision that you are going to have a stress free divorce.  It’s a common fact that in order for something to be someone has to make a decision.  This is no different with a divorce.  You need to make a promise to yourself that no matter what happens you will keep a cool head – not easy, but it really is rule number one.  So send a message out to the universe that you are going to stay calm.
  2. Agree with your spouse the reason that you are divorcing.  In the UK there are five reasons you can get  a divorce which, in no particular order, are 1) You have been separated for five years, 2) You have been separated for 2 years and you both agree to the divorce. 3) Your spouse has behaved so unreasonably that you can no longer stay married 4) Your spouse has committed adultery 5) Your spouse has disserted you for at least two years.  Any one of these reasons can be used to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Now imagine you decide not to agree or discuss the reason for the divorce.  You send divorce papers based on behaviour, filled with all the bad things your spouse has every put you through, or you send them papers accusing them of adultery, or asking your spouse to pay your legal costs.  Do you think your spouse would co-operate? Would this be a good way to ensure a peaceful relationship in the future.  Probably not.  So trying to reach an agreement, as much as possible, in your personal circumstances can be crucial for a stress-free divorce.

  1.  Put the children first.  One thing that can rarely be doubted is that even though a couple have decided to get a  divorce, they do both still love their children.  However, the bitterness and animosity that each holds against the  other can sometimes spill over and affect the decisions they make about the children.

So, for example, the parent who has kept the children will prevent the other parent from seeing them or, the “non-resident” parent may refuse to provide financial support for the benefit of the children.  Sometimes, on the basis that the other parent will spend the money on themselves.  In my mind that is a moot point because that parent will still have to meet the day to day expenses for the children. So there really is no reason for one parent to withhold financial support from another parent just for the sake of it.

Equally, I feel very strongly that children don’t really care about the bad feelings between their parents.  In all likelihood they would be used to this as they would have seen their parents arguing or not even speaking to each other at all prior to the separation.  In my view, children will feel it is important to maintain a relationship with both parents where both parents have been loving towards them.  As a Solicitor who has dealt in many family disputes over the years, I have seen all too often previously married couples at court not speaking to each other giving, frivolous really, arguments about why one or the other parent shouldn’t see the children.  I’m not talking here about proven cases where domestic violence is involved , but cases where the only real issue is that the relationship has broken down.

In my mind, if both parents can be guided by what is best for the future of the children, this will go some way in ensuring that the divorce process runs smoothly – because you will be taking your focus off the things you don’t agree on and focusing on the one thing you do agree on – the happiness of your children.

 So there you have it.  What I believe are three tips that can take you on the path to a stress-free divorce.

 And if you are really struggling to resolve your issues during divorce then you might want to try relationship counseling.  Many relationship counselors also provide families who are breaking up with support to overcome their differences and make decisions that you can both live with.

Good Luck…!

What about you? What top tips to a stress-free divorce can you suggest.  Feel free to share your thoughts below.

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Want to use this article in your networks? You can, but you MUST include the following:

Rachel Toussaint is a Consultant Solicitor at Rogols Consultancy, Birmingham UK.  She is a human rights advocate especially as it relates to immigration, family law & civic duty.  She is also a consultant for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In her blog she shares legal tips to empower clients to quickly and effectively resolve their legal disputes. http://www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com

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 Images courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Ten Top Tips for Choosing the Right School for Your Child

As a parent who is also working or in business, you can often overlook the very important issue of choosing a suitable school for your child.  This is not because you don’t care or don’t understand the importance of a good education.  It is simply because you are time poor and just trying to cram everything in.  So you think you have done the groundwork to choose the right school for your child but certain important factors may slip under the radar.

Outside of sending your child to a school which has bad teaching, a lack of equipment and the like, I believe all parents would be devastated to know that they are sending their child into an environment where they are mistreated, mocked or even physically bullied on a daily basis.

As a parent you want to know that a solid education, coupled with discipline and safety, are at the heart of the school’s ethos.

To help in your quest, I’ve set out below what I think could help busy parents get it right first time.

1. If at all possible try to live in an area which is well known for its “good schools“.  You will need to know the “school catchment area”.  The “school catchment area” is the area around the school that you must live in to be able to attend that school as a first choice.  This is significant for the “good/outstanding schools” as these catchment areas are usually full of families with school aged children.  So if you are outside the catchment area of your preferred school you are unlikely to get a look in.  The catchment area could be smaller than you think so check with the school first.

2. Have a look on the school website.  Check that the website is updated regularly; that it offers children the opportunity to do extra work online; that the headteacher is involved in the running of the website – a nice smiling face with a “word from the head” is a good sign; and that an informative school newsletter is sent out regularly.

3. Observe the school playground.  Stand a safe distance from the school so as not to cause alarm and if appropriate let a school official know what you are doing.  Look for such things as: how well the children are supervised during breaktime; how the children interact with each other; obvious signs of bullying.  I know you’re busy, but try to do this a few times at different times of the day – it may save you many trips to the school later on.

4. Take your child to see the school with you before you make a decision.  It’s a lot easier for a child to settle into a new school if they have been there previously and had some input in the decision.

5. Forget trying to charm the school receptionist.  The decision of placing a child in a school has been removed from the school and is now the duty of the local authority. The local authority does this through their admissions and appeals department.

6. Work closely with the Schools Admissions & Appeals service.  The Schools Admissions & Appeals department can tell you which schools have spaces now or how long the waiting list is.  You can use this service to decide whether now is the right time to change your child’s school especially if you have just moved home or are thinking of moving.

7. Find out who the school governors are.  School governors effectively make key decisions about the school.  They appoint teachers, decide how the school budget will be spent, agree school policies and act as a “critical friend” to the school.  Look at the backgrounds of the governors.  Do they seem to have a varied past and experiences?  What, if anything, do they stand for? How accessible are they?  You should be able to get this information from the school website.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

8. Look at the school Ofsted Report.  This can be found on the internet and is accessible to everyone.   Most parents judge the school entirely on the basis of the Ofsted report.  But this should not be the only tool that parents use when making a decision about the school.  I’ve put this at number 8 to emphasis that I really don’t believe this is the most important factor.  Having said that, the Ofsted report gives a good indication, not only on the current progress the school is making, but it also looks at how likely the school is to improve in the future.  The Ofsted report also has a section that discusses the effectiveness of the governors and the leadership of the school in general – which is very helpful.  This will help you to understand the politics of the school and just how well the school will be able to deal with issues as they arise.  By issues I mean problems that young children struggle with.  In my mind, chief among young children’s struggles is around bullying.  Ultimately, you want to know that if all else fails, your child is at least safe whilst at school.

So it is very important to understand the effectiveness of the school leadership as this may have a direct impact on how the school is able to handle the issues that children are likely to face.

9. Talk to other parents at the school.  Most parents will be happy to share their first hand experience of having a child at that school.  Try to speak to a few parents not just one or two.  Visit the local coffee shop on a warm day straight after school starts.  You’re bound to find lots of mums there relaxing before they start their own day.  They’ll be in a social mood – so go on approach them.

10. Attend the school fair.  Here you can see how all the elements of the school come together.  You will see how the teachers, children, parents and community interact with each other. Everyone’s guard is down and this can give a really helpful insight before making that final decision.

So there you have it, my top ten tips for choosing the right school for your child.  I have four children in four different schools so I decided to work it all out for other parents.

It’s worth mentioning that not all parents (and children) get a place at their preferred school.  If you’re not happy with the school your child is offered you have a legal right to appeal.  You also have the right to educate your child at home, without them going to a school at all.  You can either start the process yourself or get help from a Solicitor.

Well good luck with it all.  Here’s to your child’s happiness…and your peace of mind!

Oh & do feel free to add your own top tips below…

                    

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Want to use this article in your networks? You can, but you MUST include the following:

Rachel Toussaint is a Consultant Solicitor at Rogols Consultancy, Birmingham UK.  She is a human rights advocate especially as it relates to immigration, family law & civic duty.  She is also a consultant for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In her blog she shares legal tips to empower clients to quickly and effectively resolve their legal disputes. http://www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com

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 Images courtesy of Free Digital Photos