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Valentine’s Day and divorce: how to manage unexpected news

Valentine’s Day can bring much joy, but not necessarily if you’re recently divorced or separated. LGFL Director Rita Gupta explores how to proceed if you were not expecting to be single, and the divorce announcement has been an unwelcome gift.

One of my team recently showed me an email she had received from one of the country’s leading letter box flower delivery company.

“A sensitive occasion is coming up. Want to snooze it?

In a few weeks’ time, we’re going to start sending emails about Valentine’s Day.

Rather not hear about it? Totally fine.

You can snooze Valentine’s Day emails here. We won’t send you anything related to this date. You’ll still get all our other emails though, like normal.”

I was impressed by the flower firm’s empathetic approach and the understanding of the feelings of those who are on their own or soon to be - and are not happy about it.

 

Unexpected news

To a proportion of our clients, the news that their spouse wants a divorce comes as a bolt out the blue. They might have realised that the situation isn’t ideal but did not realise that their partner considered the marriage beyond repair. The revelation, and sometimes the unexpected arrival of divorce papers, leaves them feeling confused, hurt and at a loss as to their next course of action.

 

An emotional rollercoaster

When a spouse first states “I want a divorce”, the other partner’s response will very much depend on where they stand emotionally. One partner may have fallen out of love, but the other may still had deep feelings and very much want to stay married.

As outlined in our popular article “A rollercoaster of feelings: how a divorce progresses emotionally”:

“A single event might trigger that announcement, whether a minor argument that’s the final straw, or an unwelcome revelation such as an affair. At that point, you or your partner may have already checked out emotionally. So the two of you will not be coming at the case from the same emotional angle. This dictates the entire direction of the case and how you and your partner reach agreement on your children and finances.”

 

What to do next

If you are facing this situation of an unexpected divorce announcement, your first course of action should be to take legal advice straight away. Talking through your situation with an experienced and empathetic family lawyer can help you understand your options. Timely advice can also prevent you taking hasty decisions that might become problematic later, especially in terms of the family home, finances, and child arrangements.

 

Better working together

If you have children together, they should be at the centre of your divorce planning. Remember that you will always be a parent even when you are not a spouse anymore. A divorce process that involves expert legal advice, mediation and a collaborative approach can help parents separate with their focus on the children and their future, rather than solely on themselves. This can often lead to more measured approaches and proportionate litigation that are rooted in reality and fairness rather than inflated expectations.

 

Separating out finances

There is no such thing as a “quickie divorce”. Even under the new streamlined system and with a mutually agreed joint application, the timescale will usually be around six months from application to completion. During that time, the world does not stand still. Food still needs to be bought, mortgages and bills still need to be paid, and children need to continue to live their normal life as far as possible. Taking early legal advice on how to approach untangling your finances and home lives is therefore essential.

 

Through Valentine’s and beyond

Even the most straightforward of uncontested divorces will have an impact on those around you, including family and relatives, friends, and social networks. Talk to them and gain any emotional and practical support they can offer.

This may seem a major struggle at first, but as I explained in my article “More than one rollercoaster: how the emotions of divorce influence your friends, work and future”:

“On your emotional rollercoaster, you may just see steep hills to climb, such as finances, child arrangements, and perhaps the prospect of living on your own for the first time in decades. In reality, there are sections that are a much easier ride, and take your forward to a different life post-separation.”

 

Protect your mental health

Professional help from a mental health specialist can be invaluable during a divorce. At LGFL we partner with experienced therapists and holistic practitioners who can help our clients manage the mental challenges of divorce. These can include stress, anxiety, lack of confidence and the myriad of emotions raised at this major upheaval in their lives. Watch out for our further health and well being articles, as part of our “Divorce is more than just the law” series.

 

Your first step towards your post-divorce future

Contact us to book your initial reduced fee one hour consultation. We can talk in complete confidence at our discreet countryside offices just outside Reading, or online if you prefer. There’s no obligation and you can extend the time available if you wish. You’ll always meet with one of our two Directors to discuss your unique situation, who will oversee all aspects of your divorce from start to finish should you decide to instruct us.

To make that first step:

- Call us

- Email us

- Request your appointment online