The Right Kind of Divorce

The Portal is an idea thought of and developed by Anne Dick of Family Law Matters and Shona Templeton of MTM Family Law solicitors, all based in Glasgow, Scotland.

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You are thinking about separating

Separation  solves  some  problems  and  causes  others. Because  separation causes so much upset and hurt, the first thing to do is to consider very honestly and carefully  whether  there  is any chance  of  saving  the  relationship. Couple counselling  or  individual  counselling  can  be  invaluable  here,  and,  even  if separation still occurs, counselling is likely to make the process easier all round. For more information about counselling and names and addresses of counselling agencies, see Counselling and Support Section.

Remember that if you have children they will usually very much want you to stay together.   This is not necessarily the best thing for them, but you must be sure enough of what you are doing to be able to cope with the children’s reaction.

Be very practical – think of the mundane day to day things that would have to be sorted  out. You  will  realise  that money coming  into  the house when you are together  in  one  household  will  not  go  so  far  as  between  2  households. Separation  triggers  major  financial  consequences. Think  them  through  very realistically.

If your partner has a drink problem or is violent to you and will not go for help, or perhaps will not even acknowledge the fact, then it might be more urgent for you  to  get  out of  the  relationship. It  might  also  be  helpful  for  you  to  have specialised support.

One thing you have to accept is that if you don’t  like your partner’s behaviour, and  your  partner  doesn’t  think  there  is  anything  wrong  with  it,  then  you  can’t make your partner change. You must either  find some way of  living with  the situation, or leave the relationship. Living with a partner who for some reason is behaving badly to you can have a terrible effect on your self-confidence.

Try  to  make  your  decision  while  you  still  have  enough  energy  to  use  for  the future!

If you do decide to separate, you must not expect your partner or your children to accept your decision without some hurt or anger.   However, once you have thought things through carefully and made your decision, don’t spend too much time  in  trying  to  justify  your  decision  to  other  people  – even  your  partner. Doing this usually involves underlining or exaggerating the faults of your partner, and only causes more bitterness.  It is often better to be able to accept that you both embarked on the relationship with optimism and believed it would work.  If you have now come to the conclusion the dynamic has changed, you can agree to disagree about the reason for that. If you have children they will cope much better if they don’t overhear arguments about where it went wrong.

If you have children, make it  a  priority  to arrange matters so that the  children suffer as little confusion and uncertainty as possible.   For example, if you have become  involved with  someone  else,  be  careful  how  you  explain  this  to  the children  and  how  you  make  the  introductions. If  your  partner  has  become involved with someone else, be just as careful how this  is approached with the children.

Don’t rush it.

Bear in mind that no decision will be 100% right.   Whatever decision you make will leave some problems to cope with.   What you should do is work out which of the possible problems you would be most able to deal with.

If  you  decide to  separate, and  you are  the main  source of income, don’t  offer more financially than  you can realistically manage. Sometimes people do this because they feel bad about hurting their partner.   They think such an offer will soften the blow.

Well  – it  might  at  that  point. Then  it  will  become obvious  to  you  that  the amount you are left with won’t keep you going.   If you have to backtrack on the offer it will feel worse for your partner than if you had never made it. Equally, don’t leap to the opposite extreme.  

Be realistic

If on the other hand, you are not the main earner don’t be so eager to get out of the relationship that you insist on giving up any possible claims you might have. Money claims on separation are generally about fair sharing and practicalities – not blame apportionment or assuaging feelings of guilt.


Remember that you have taken time to adjust to  the prospect of  a separation. You have probably gone through various stages including sadness and perhaps anger  or  anxiety. Your  partner  is  about  to  be  faced  with  the necessity of adjustment  to  huge  changes,  and  not  of  choice  and  will  have  to go through those stages while trying to deal with practical problems.

It  is  important  to  disentangle  the  emotional  aspect  of  a  separation from the money aspect.

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