I got a call last week from a worried but well-spoken young lady needing help in getting a divorce.
Determined, but scared about what would happen if she made the first move, we discussed her partner, a wealthy businessman who controlled her assets, her kids, basically her whole life. She had never dealt with the family’s finances as her husband had “taken care” of it all. After 10 years of marriage, she realised that she did not want to be trapped in this kind of controlling relationship – She wanted out… But didn’t know what to do.What should you do in this situation?
I gave her the same advice I give anyone in this position:
- Speak to him – Just because you have been thinking about this for a while and have reached your decision, you need to give your partner some time to digest the news and prepare mentally for what it means. If you can’t start a dialogue because you are worried or even scared to raise it, then someone else can help you and do it for you.
- Don’t feel guilty – Relationships often change. You are the one who is actually doing something about it. Therefore, ask for what you want and bargain hard. You have earned the right to do so. Don’t prioritise others’ feelings over your own/ your family’s financial security. If your partner goes out and earns the wage for you both, you are already at a financial disadvantage – Don’t make it worse by giving in to financial pressure.
- Employ a professional – A lawyer & a counsellor or divorce coach will work together for you. My clients use counsellors/ coaches to build their self-confidence and they help them feel empowered to do what they need to do. Building the right team is important.
My clients often worry that all of their finances and assets are in their partner’s name; or that their partners own private assets abroad. Others have never used lawyers other than their partner’s lawyers and are put off by this. If you are on your own, these issues can be alarming.
Don’t be scared or intimidated: The right lawyers will protect you so you get whatever you are entitled to, no matter where your partner may have hidden his assets: Don’t use his lawyers. Don’t worry about the cost; lawyers have a number of ways to get the working partner to pay for the cost of the divorce. Trust yourself. Be enlightened, be powerful and be honest.
Your lawyer will go a long way to protecting your legal position, which brings us back to the delicate task of asking for a divorce in the first place.
The three most common reactions by partners who are asked for a divorce (and my advice for each) are as follows:
- Let’s try to work it out instead – It is unlikely that the decision that you made was an overnight one so be compassionate but firm. Explain your reasoning so that they understand that this is something that you have thought through.
- Think about the kids – Divorce is not harmful to kids per se; but living with parents ‘at war’ is. That is the real choice that you are faced with. Do the right thing for the kids, not for yourselves. If your partner is honest, he/she will know that conflict is potentially damaging to their children.
- It will be so expensive – This depends on if you choose an amicable and cost-effective way of separating or if you decide to go to war with one another. There is a solution and it can and will be worked out, whether your partner likes it or not.
Why choose the UK as the venue for your divorce?
There is a reason that London is the divorce capital of the world. Divorce courts here make judgements / settlements based on what is fair and just, not on who is the richer partner. Judges do not penalise the partner who stays at home and looks after the home/ family. Their wishes are just as, if not more important than the partner who is out earning a wage.
Think smart. Use a professional who you can talk to. Listen to their advice and be honest with them.
Be prepared to compromise and be patient. You will get what you want in the end.
Negotiate through your lawyers, agree a settlement that sets you up for your new life…
Then you can walk away, head held high, into a brave new world.
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