So you think you're ready for your divorce?

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There are some things in life which, a bit like income tax, might be unpleasant, but are not always avoidable.

Divorce is much the same. With precious few exceptions, very few people set out on their marriage with the intention of filing for a divorce at some point in the future.

And whilst every marriage has its tough moments, most couples accept there will be the occasional brickbat amongst the bouquets. And at those times, what tends to happen is you shout at one another for a period of time, then make up, whether in the time-honoured fashion or not, and get on with life.

But for a lot of people, the bad times begin to outweigh the good and the spectre of divorce casts its pall over the future.

Divorce is not a decision people tend to reach quickly, unless there has been some sort of catastrophic betrayal that makes any prospect of reconciling the relationship impossible. And even then, and particularly if there are children to be considered, there’s wisdom and merit in weighing the pros and cons.

But once the decision to divorce has been made – whether or not the other person in the marriage knows it – then most people switch from doing nothing slowly to wanting the process to be over as quickly as possible.

And it’s at this point where you will probably encounter someone like me.

The role of your solicitor is to represent you in your divorce proceedings and work with you to achieve the best possible outcome for you. But a good solicitor has another responsibility, too – and that’s a duty of care to you as an individual.

When I first meet someone who is seeking advice for an intended divorce, one of the things I want to know is whether they have thought it through properly. Have they considered all the options? Do they understand what the process involves and the emotional impact even a so-called ‘smooth’ divorce will have?

In other words, do they know what they’re letting themselves in for?

As a divorce solicitor, I’m not there to judge my client or to question whether they’re right or wrong to want a divorce. That’s not my job or my place. But I do want to know that they’re ready for what lies ahead.

That’s not to say divorce needs to be actively unpleasant and it doesn’t have to be – in fact, shouldn’t be – confrontational. But equally, the process of divorce is never going to be enjoyable, even if the life that lies beyond it will be.

I recently posted something on social media about the need to consider the disadvantages of divorce as well as the advantages and I think being objective about what’s involved is the key to a successful divorce.

Divorce often has an adverse impact on children, so you need to consider them and what’s best for them. There is considerable financial scrutiny involved. Depending on the circumstances of the breakdown of the relationship and marriage, there may also be personal scrutiny. You will need to share personal and sometimes intimate information with your solicitor.

And divorce costs money, so understanding how to keep those costs to a minimum is also important.

Being aware of the process and what it entails will give you a head start on managing the experience in the best possible way. And that starts with finding the right advice from the right lawyer who takes the time to make sure you really are ready for your divorce.

Mark Norman