Deciding on Divorce? How to Know When the Time is Right

For the family lawyer, there are two main spikes in the year when they receive calls from people in unhappy marriages: January and September. Or, in other words, after periods of unavoidable family time. With exam results dates looming over the course of the summer, this article looks at how to manage a failing marriage until the time is right to start divorce proceedings, through the lens of a lawyer who works on the front line of breakups.

As well as the conversations that start “I just can’t manage another Christmas with them”, “It was only a kiss at the office party” and “I wanted to throw them in the pool and catch the next flight home”, there are also the more hesitant conversations with clients that start “I don’t want to upset the children before Christmas”, “I have to keep the family stable until after the exam results are out” or “we can’t cancel Florida, do you have any idea how much Disneyland costs for a family of 4?”. These conversations develop into “How do I manage this marriage until the time is right for me to end it?”, and that is what this article is about.

You’d be hard pressed to find a family lawyer who advocates staying in an unhappy relationship. It is not healthy for either of the spouses or the children. There is a view that children are better with two happy parents who love them but who live apart, rather than two desperately unhappy parents who love them but stay in a hateful marriage purely for their sake.

Without doubt, where there is domestic violence, abuse (emotional, physical or sexual) or harassment, then you should never wait. Take immediate advice because you might need to ask the court for an injunction to protect you. And if you are in doubt about whether your situation is serious, because normalising the abuse is not uncommon, then speak to a family solicitor and get their thoughts.

But sometimes you need to manage the exit of a relationship and for a range of personal reasons, you might feel that you want to hang on for a while before starting the divorce conversation. What can you do in the meantime?

So if you are biding your time before A-Level results, the start of term, that big presentation at work, the milestone birthday or “just the right time”, then use the days wisely by getting your ducks in a row. Make the time work in your favour and take control.

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.

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