How to divorce well: What do family lawyers mean by a “Good Divorce”?

26th November 2020, 5:31 pm

Family Lawyer Lizzie Smith from Clarke Willmott LLP explains what constitutes a ‘Good Divorce’ ahead of Good Divorce Week, which runs from 30 November – 04 December.

The phrase “Good Divorce” will undoubtedly mean different things to different people. When family lawyers talk about a “Good Divorce” they are generally referring to a separating couple’s ability to work together to achieve a fair outcome for everyone involved, setting aside their differences, communicating effectively, and putting their children’s feelings and futures ahead of any bitterness towards each other. This is of course much easier said than done, and there are many factors which influence to what extent this is possible, or indeed what works for each individual couple.

Separation, including divorce, and dealing with the consequential issues arising from it (finances and child arrangements being the two most obvious) is extremely emotional, stressful and difficult even for the most prepared. As such, it is important that separating couples can access the support and advice they need both from the start and throughout this crucial time.

This support can come in many forms, such as input from a counsellor or financial adviser, but crucially includes legal advice, which can seem daunting and bewildering at times. However, it is vital that individuals take this guidance at the earliest possible stage, so that options can be reviewed and to enable positive initial discussions to take place. Timely advice will help to shape how both individuals approach the case, impacting on the time it takes to resolve matters, the amount of money spent on legal costs, and most crucially, the emotional impact on those involved.

What should separating couples do?

Enlisting a specialist family lawyer is the first step. We believe it is essential to review the options available for achieving solutions and settlements, before deciding on the most appropriate course of action for each individual case. These options could include solicitor negotiations, round table meetings, mediations, arbitration and collaborative ways of working. At Clarke Willmott we are members of Resolution, the national body of family lawyers committed to resolving disputes constructively and we seek to work in this way with our clients, their ex-partners, and all third parties wherever possible.

The Resolution “Code of Practice” is at the forefront of our minds when dealing with all types of family law matters. We listen to all involved and treat our clients and their ex-partners with respect. We work to reduce conflict and confrontation and to provide honest and effective advice. That said, we do accept that in some scenarios, it may be necessary to issue a Court application either as a last resort, or to protect our clients’ position, and if this is the case, we will do so fairly, robustly and effectively.

As recently released statistics show, the numbers of divorces are on the increase, and people’s decisions to separate will have been further affected by the impact of Covid-19. Disputes in relation to arrangements for children are also on the rise. It has also been a time when individuals and families look to review financial arrangements for the future.

It is important to take advice at the earliest possible stage, for example even if you have not yet decided that your relationship is at an end or that you need to approach your ex-partner about a change of school for your child. Being in receipt of honest and realistic legal advice from the outset can have a positive impact and help you to deal with issues constructively.

We are supporting Resolution’s Good Divorce Week which runs from 30 November to 4 December 2020.

Visit for more on the range of services that the family team offers and to arrange a confidential initial consultation.

Lizzie Smith is a Senior Associate in the Clarke Willmott family team. She is a member of Resolution, a Resolution Accredited Specialist and a Collaboratively trained lawyer.

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