I think the short answer to this is possibly not, unless it is a short marriage without children, then it might be, but even then I am sure one person will be more upset than the other if they are in some way on the receiving end of news that they did not want to hear.
Most divorces occur after several years and there are children who are bound to be confused, if not hurt and upset, by their parents’ separation. Although, if there are problems in the marriage, the children are bound to know about it even if the parents think they do not.
So if a completely painless separation is not possible, what can be done to make the process better? Should we make the process better? I ask that question because parliament, in its infinite wisdom, has still not agreed to the concept of a no-fault divorce which means that unless the parties agree to live apart for two years, then one has to in some way blame the other for the divorce which does not help.
The first step in a potentially pain-free divorce is for everyone to agree not to fight. There are going to be no winners, only the lawyers, if parties argue through Court. I do think that it is wise to seek help and advice from someone outside of the immediate family – someone who can look rationally at the circumstances and give solid practical advice about the legal situation (marriage, after all, is a legal contract which has to be dissolved by a Court) and how best to deal with the practical issues of where and how the parties are going to live in the future. Take advice from someone who is committed to reduce and not increase the tension. Do not be tempted to think that you can score points over the other or “win” in any way. I am not suggesting that you turn the other cheek in a passive sense but that you do something much more constructive; seek realistic advice, and together, work out how to use your joint resources in the best possible way.
That’s not just the financial resources – house, pension, salaries etc – but also your joint parenting skills to make the separation as easy and pain-free for the children as possible. Change of any sort can be difficult to deal with but change is not necessarily always for the worst – it can be an opportunity to do things differently and better.
Mums and Dads can and will have to acquire new parenting skills to deal with a new situation, to adapt to dealing with the children on their own and ultimately probably introducing the children to new partners and possibly new siblings. Step parenting is a skill that more and more parents are having to acquire and it’s much easier if the initial separation or divorce has been dealt with positively and with as much kindness as the parties can muster because it’s only the start of something new.
It is a great mistake to look at the short-term – to concentrate on the divorce and regard it as a battle to try and get as much as possible (much in terms of financial resources and much in terms of contact or “possession” of the children). Try and look on the divorce as a change that has got to be made to everyone’s lives but a change that, if made with the positive input of all concerned, can be if not for the better than at least not for the worst.
Resources to help you include the really excellent Government website www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk for financial help and advice, and Resolution (www.resolution.org.uk) for details of collaborative lawyers and trained mediators.