They say familiarity breeds contempt and the pandemic certainly provided the perfect storm to put this age-old adage to the test. It’s perhaps unsurprising that the collateral damage of lockdown saw a record spike in divorce inquiries around the world with leading British law firm, Stewarts, logging a 136% increase in June 2021 as lockdown restrictions were eased.

As a Divorce Coach, I have never been busier throughout and since the pandemic, which thrust domestic arrangements and frustrations into sharp focus. Families were hit from all sides, contending with money worries, working from home arrangements, sick family members, managing children’s stress and home schooling. 

Whilst new data from the ONS revealed a decrease of 4.5% divorce rates for 2020, I think the true pictures is yet to transpire. In the first wave of ‘enforced togetherness’ created by lockdown, couples were looking more towards separation and alternative living arrangements to meet their most urgent needs. Factors such as being furloughed and unemployment prevented many of my clients from actually filing a divorce petition until they had more clarity on their financial standing. They were also overwhelmed with home-schooling and caring for elderly relatives, so taking on an all-consuming divorce process was a bridge too far. 

More recently, and throughout last year, I’ve experienced a large number of clients – I’d say as much as 40% – holding out for the new ‘no-fault’ divorce law to be introduced in April this year which will enable them to avoid the blame-game. 

One of the questions I’m asked most from couples facing the breakdown of their marriage, is ‘how can I prepare? Where do I even begin?’ Divorce is never the easy option – it is an emotional rollercoaster with practical challenges and financial stresses thrown in.  

A good breakup or divorce is one that is fair and respectful and enables you to have the best chance of an amicable relationship with your ex in the future. But most importantly it is one where you rediscover who YOU are and gets you excited and hopeful about your future. You only live once so it’s time to start redesigning your future just the way you want it and feeling good about yourself and what lies ahead. 

If you think you may be headed for a breakup or divorce, my top tips for how to start out in the best possible way are: 

  1. Get your Breakup Support team in place. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the breakup process from a financial, legal and emotional perspective, whilst trying to maintain your daily routine too. So, it’s vital to get experts around you who can help answer all the questions you have and give you the best advice. For example, if you are concerned about finances then find someone who can help you create a financial plan for your situation which will enable you to feel more positive about the future.
  1. Get clarity on what you spend each month so you can understand your spending patterns. Create a budget spreadsheet of your weekly and monthly expenditure. You need to take ownership of this so you feel more financially independent and in control. 
  1. Agree with your partner what to say to the kids about the breakup. The ideal scenario is to sit down together if possible and tell them together. Reassurance that they are loved and that this is not their fault is key. 
  1. Treat each other with respect and kindness. You are bound to disagree over matters at some point so make an agreement to treat each other with kindness and respect and this will create a strong foundation, helping to keep things as amicable as possible whilst minimising tension. 
  1. Pick your battles. In the heat of the moment, it is easy to get worked up over the little things. Take a step back and work out if you will really care about this in a few months’ time. This will help you to get perspective on what is important and what is emotion getting the better of you. 
  1. Don’t talk about your breakup to everyone you meet. Share your feelings with close friends or family but don’t get sucked into a world where the only thing you talk about is your split. 
  1. Don’t bad mouth your ex to others. This may well get back to them and make things worse. Of course, you can be honest with your inner circle of select friends and family but avoid openly discussing your ex in public.
  1. Self-care, eating well and exercising is crucial to keeping a strong mind and enabling you to make better decisions. Exercise is a great way to instantly boost your state of mind. Even a brisk walk around the block will help you feel better and help you stay in control of your emotions.
  1. Write a list of all the things you weren’t happy with in your relationship as you take off the rose-tinted glasses. If you are heartbroken and finding it hard to let go of your ex this is a great exercise. When we reminisce about our partners it’s easy to focus on all the good bits and romanticise about things. But this will keep you stuck in the past and it isn’t always reality as this list will show.
  1. Spring-clean your life. Create a plan for the life you want to live and the person you want to become. Out with the old and in with the new. Try new things, do things differently and make small changes that add more sparkle to your life. 
  1. Don’t forget to keep some fun in your life. Breakups bring a rollercoaster of emotions so make sure you find ways to laugh and connect with those you love. Breakups are an opportunity to rediscover yourself and, whilst you may feel like curling up and hiding away from the world some days, making an effort to see a friend or try something new will help you feel stronger. It’s so important to have fun things in your diary so you are not all consumed with your breakup. There is more to life than relationships and you need to maintain a healthy balance in other areas of interest too.

Research the best way to get divorced to suit your situation.  Whilst a legal advisor can explain what to expect from your split and manage the process for you, you can also get divorced online at a fraction of the cost.