Often when a couple separates, one spouse has been contemplating the decision for sometime, months, years even, but the other is entirely in the dark, or certainly not on the same page as their spouse.
No matter how overwhelming the feeling of not being in control of what happens to you may be, this is not the case. Your spouse may have chosen to end the marriage, but any further decisions from here on in must be made mutually, other wise the court will have to intervene.
For a spouse kept in the dark, it can often feel like so many decisions are being made around you, and that you have no say in what happens next. Your spouse has decided to end the marriage, and you have no say. They have perhaps already been to see a solicitor and have planned everything out, whilst your still getting your head around the fact your relationship is ending. Perhaps you are being asked to leave the family home, or your partner is insisting that the family home is put on the market for sale immediately. Maybe your partner is dictating a new two-home weekly schedule for the children whilst you’re still trying to understand why there needs to be any schedule for you to see your children in the first place. Or perhaps your partner has made significant financial decisions on behalf of both of you, like purchasing a new home, without discussing such a huge decision with you. It feels like your divorce is all on their terms.
In order to take control and feel more empowered to make your own decisions, it is crucially important to get sound legal advice from an experienced family lawyer as early on in your separation as possible. Taking steps to arrange a meeting with a divorce lawyer is a difficult reality check for any spouse, let alone if you are still coming to terms with the fact your marriage has just broken down. However, it is important to arm yourself with the knowledge that the next steps in this process do not need to be and will not be dictated solely by your spouse.
Your initial consultation will help outline and explain that, although it may feel like some of these decisions are being made on your behalf; no final resolve can be made without your involvement. Your partner may want to immediately sell the family home, but they ultimately cannot do so without your agreement. This is truest whether you own the house or not. You may want to explore your options of keeping the family home, and you will be afforded time to do this. If your spouse wants you to keep the family home and let them keep their pension, your lawyer will help advise you as to whether or not you are entitled to keep the family home and still be entitled to a portion of your spouses pension. Perhaps you want to slow the whole process down. This is not uncommon and, depending on the circumstances, sometimes your lawyer’s advice may be to do nothing for a period of time.
Whatever your circumstances, no matter how difficult it may feel, arm yourself with the knowledge that will protect you during you separation and help you take back that feeling of control for your own life. Ask your solicitor to outline all your options and together you will come up with your own plan of action, what is right for you and your new life that awaits.