London leading divorce lawyer, Lisa Pepper of Osbornes Law has revealed there are three important areas to take care of: finances, children and evidence.
And she said that you shouldn’t wait to come to a final decision with your partner, you should act straight away to be prepared if the worst happens.
‘I often wish clients had come to see me six months earlier, when divorce was only a possibility, as there are practical steps clients could take to protect themselves,’ she told Femail.
1. DON’T CUT BACK ON SPENDING
It’s counterintuitive at a time when you may want to save your pennies, but if you think a split is on the cards, don’t cut back on expenditure.
Both parties will be required to produce a budget in order for the Court to establish if spousal maintenance needs to be paid.
In cutting back beforehand, you are essentially helping the other party say you ‘need’ less money coming in each month.
You can also protect yourself by ensuring that your laptop/smartphone/anything with financial information on is covered by a password, and keeping all printed documents secure.
Equally, resist the temptation to snoop on your spouse – in recent years the Family Court has been much tougher on people who do.
2. SPEND MORE TIME WITH CHILDREN
If you are the main breadwinner and see much less of your kids, keep a diary of the time you do spend with them – whether days out, or helping with maths homework. It all counts.
If you work full-time, consider if you could work at home one day a week, or reduce your hours to see more of your children, and cut down on any hobbies that take you away from them. In short, do anything you can to spend more time with your kids.
3. ENCOURAGE A RETURN TO WORK
If your spouse stays at home, do what you can to support them returning to work. If they want a career change, encourage a vocation that is lucrative. A psychotherapist or interior designer is less likely to be able to be self-sufficient.
Teaching can be a good option for a parent, given the childcare needed in the summer holidays, however you can also discuss other childcare options.
4. THINK BEFORE YOU TEXT
It’s all about creating a good impression for a judge who does not know you outside of the court room.
So, when you communicate, think before you write. Any text messages, emails, or even social media posts can be used against you, so avoid writing anything in anger.
By all means, have a vent and write it down, but don’t hit send until the heat of the moment has passed. It’s often preferable to have a face to face conversation.
5. CUT DOWN ON ALCOHOL
At a time of stress, it is easy to reach for a glass of wine or two in the evenings to help you unwind. This can add up and in children cases, you can face allegations of alcohol or substance abuse making you a risk to your children.
If you submit to testing (and it’s difficult not to, as the Judge will be very suspicious otherwise) then a hair sample is taken (blood and urine can be also).
One centimeter of hair growth is roughly equivalent to a months’ consumption; so the longer your hair, the further back the testing can go.
6. DO NOT ACCEPT ABUSE
Finally, and importantly, take action if you are in an abusive relationship. No one should suffer abuse at the hands of a loved one. No one has the right to abuse. If you’re in that situation, get help now.
Keep a diary of any verbal or hysical abuse and don’t be abusive yourself. Go for a walk to cool down, if it comes to it.
If you are being physically abused, go to see your doctor and the police. Contemporaneous third-party records of what’s been going on are good evidence too, otherwise it’s your word against theirs.