For many, September still has that ‘back to school’ feeling – fresh stationary, new shoes and a new start. But unfortunately for some, it’s a time which makes them start to re-evaluate their marriage. Divorce lawyers often report an uptick in enquiries around this time of year and a ‘make or break’ summer holiday can be the reason, as couples get home and question the stability and durability of their relationship. Some may be clear that they want the relationship to end and have known this for some time. And of course, there may be very good reasons for this, for example if there is domestic abuse. But for many couples it is just that it feels tired and you have both forgotten the good times and why you got together in the first place.

Relationships on Female First

Relationships on Female First

If this sounds familiar, you have three options:

1. Try to find out if the relationship is worth saving: Encourage your partner to attend couple therapy. This is not about just sticking you back together, it is to help you find out more about your relationship. It is possible that with some attention you may get the relationship back on track, or you may both realise that the best thing is to split up. If this is the case, the therapist can help you communicate when going through the difficult steps to end the relationship.

2. Consider the options, including separation: Seek some independent advice about the possible outcomes if you separate. Then compare this with the relationship continuing. You can then make an informed decision.

3. Separate: You may have no doubts that the relationship is at an end. You have felt this for a long time and it has not changed. You feel guilty because you know that your partner wants the relationship to continue but this is not the reason to stay, because it often causes more distress in the longer term.

If you decide on any of the above paths, it’s likely you’ll need to call in the experts, including a therapist and a lawyer.

I would always advise couples try counselling first as it’s so helpful to speak to someone who is expert in this area and can provide an independent voice. Consider therapy for you as a couple, but also individually.

If splitting up seems like the only option for you, it’s important to seek legal advice to ensure you make an informed decision about the children, if you have them, and your finances.

Thankfully in these modern times you don’t have to go to court to sort your divorce – there are other options available and it’s a good idea to make sure your lawyer has experience of these different possibilities and they are explained to you - options such as mediation or collaborative law are often a better path to avoid long-term friction and unnecessary costs.

Do not make any decisions about your future at the first meeting. A good lawyer will explain your options; recommend that you see a counsellor/therapist and that you take time before you make any final decisions about the future of your relationship.

Try to remember the happy times too – it can be difficult, but all too often I see couples who start to think the whole relationship was toxic. After all, if you have children, think about what you want them to say in ten years about how you parted. “Sad my parents parted, but they did it the best way they could” or “What a nightmare, I am dreading both parents at my graduation”.

Words by Linda Lamb, Director at LSL Family Law.

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