Family Law Blog

Divorce Decorum Drama

Posted by on 8 Feb 2012

I came across an article in the SMH last week about the increase in Divorce Etiquette books across the UK.  Now I am not going to comment about our friends the English and their unending pursuit of ‘decorum’ but I will say that the idea of etiquette between parties after separation is a lost cause.

Now I am not being pessimist, nor am I saying that divorced parties lack decorum in their dealings with each other. Not at all. In my view how the parties behave after divorce is often the result of their behaviour during the divorce and before that the reasons for divorce.

For example:

  •  A couple that separated by mutual agreement are likely to be more civil towards each other than a couple that separated due to one party having an affair 
  • Also a couple who were willing to ‘work out the knots’ of their separation through collaborative law or dispute resolution will most always be more civil than a couple who in the words of one party “want to sue the other side for every single penny!”  

And that is not talking about parties leaving due to abusive relationships. But you get the gist. Plainly speaking (and abusive relationships aside) if the parties are civil throughout the separation process they are likely to remain so after separation and won’t need a book instructing them on how to “maintain a civil conversation’. While those who feel that their ex is the arch-nemesis of their life’s story will not often want to send “a Christmas card each year to their ex and their ex-parents-in-law”.

However there is a book of some sort that I find will always help during the difficult time of separation…. a diary.

Research has often shown that those who keep diaries and journals tend to find it very therapeutic and some findings even suggest it improves the immune system, eases stress and depression. A diary will also let a party take a different look at their case or at understanding their ex’s behaviour. If dealing with one’s anger and seeing the other side’s point of view are not the most suggested methods of helping parties remain civil during separation and in turn after it, I don’t know what is.

A diary is often also the best thing to refresh one’s memory regarding certain events or incidents needed when setting out the evidence in a preparation of a case.

So in a classic example of prevention is better than a cure, don’t wait until after separation to seek to rebuild relationships with the ex, if you want to maintain a civil relationship, work at it now, your lawyer will always inform you of your options to settle out of court and to deal with the anger and grief.