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What steps can I take to preserve my marriage and if I decide to divorce what are my options?

Posted on May 7, 2014

If you are undecided whether to commence divorce proceedings you may want to meet with a counsellor of therapist for example Relate ( who can diagnose why arguments or differences may have come to light and help you plan to overcome this.

Deciding to divorce can have deep impacts on the couple, children and wider family and needs to be thought through carefully. It may be you want to see a solicitor for an initial consultation. Divorce in a lot of situations leads to an initial drop of your standard of living as finances are more stretched.

A family solicitor can provide you with advice on how best to move things forward but it is important you see the right people do deal with the emotional side of things so that you can think clearly if you decide to divorce. Contested divorce and final hearings are rare in my experience and are less likely to happen if you can negotiate rationally with your spouse.

There are several ways you can look to reach an agreed outcome that works for everyone.

1. DIY round table meeting. A lot of couples are able to agree how to divide finances and where the children will live between themselves. They then see a solicitor at the end of their discussions to get advice on whether everything has been considered and if they want to formalise their agreement into a legal document.

2. Family Mediation. Couples see the mediator individually to explain what the key issues are and give the mediator an idea of the current situation. The mediator screens the clients to ensure mediation is appropriate before having joint session(s) to look to reach an agreement. The mediator can prepare a document called a Memorandum of Understanding which details the agreement. Clients then can decide if they want to formalise this into a legal document. Children can also be part of the mediation process if both parents agree to this and the mediator deems that the child is old enough to share their wishes and feelings.

3. Collaborative Law. Each client instructs a solicitor to have a series of 4 way meetings. Clients sign an agreement not to go to court. There are no court hearings in the process and this option allows for an agreement to be reached in an amicable and private manner.

4. Court. This really should be the last option if you can avoid this. My case load has shifted since I trained as a mediator in 2009. Only a very small amount of my cases litigate through court now. In some cases court is necessary e.g. supervised contact where sexual allegations have been made or child abduction where court protection is needed. However, in most children and financial matters I deal with the clients I represent choose Mediation or Collaborative Law which look to achieve a shared outcome rather than a positional one which the court environment may encourage. The Government is really backing family mediation too so if you decide to separate remember court should not be your first consideration in most situations.

Austin Chessell and Massy Ellesmere are Family Mediators at FAMIA.

Austin Chessell is also a Collaborative Family Solicitor at Feltons Solicitors


Phone: 07920 445832

Twitter: @FamilyLawLondon

» Filed Under Changes through divorce and seperation, Children in Divorce, Christmas Tips, Contact Matters, Dealing with Financial changes, Dealing With Step Families, Divorce, Divorce Tips, Effect of divorce on children, Family Mediation, Helping children through divorce & seperation, Legal Updates, Mother's day tips for separated Mums and Dads, Relationship, Surviving Divorce, Therapy, Tips on dealing with children, Tips on dealing with separation and Divorce, Tips on parenting, Tools helping you through seperation / divorce, Uncategorized


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    Austin Chessell
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