Reply To: Advice from both separated dads and those who repaired their relationship


Hi J

It doesn’t say if you are married…I have assumed so. If not some of this doesn’t’d be in a grey area.

Everyone would hope that your relationship would recover, there are much better people than me to post words of encouragement and tips. Counselling, help, negotiation etc these are all massively good things and should be at the absolute front of your mind/plan. I do genuinely wish the best for you.

Meanwhile, from someone who has experienced a massively destructive breakup, here are some thoughts, if you do these things you may have a massively easier/better/less bad time. These are reflections of tragic outcomes, not suggested next steps!

If your relationship is collapsing, you may not be able to judge how acrimonious it may get. As soon as you live apart and poison is whispered into ears things can change rapidly.

1. Genuinely put your kids first in every decision. It doesn’t mean you get a worst deal, in fact it may mean you have to fight for a few years in their interest. Just make sure beyond any reasonable doubt that it is their best interest. Document what choices you make and why, tell the other party and keep a diary of your decisions and actions. Do a bit of research so you have the same understanding of ‘their best interest’ that a judge and Cafcass will use. Keep your evidence, evidence is everything in court, they don’t really give a toss about histrionics or oscar winning speeches.

2. Don’t say or do anything you wouldn’t be proud to tell CAFCASS and a judge (or your child in a decade). Don’t be drawn into it. Certainly don’t write it down. Assume you are always being videoed or recorded somehow. This also reflects ‘just don’t become that person’. If it goes bad everything will be conspiring to bring out the worst in you.

3. If it all goes south get some good advice before blowing everything you own on solicitors, even if the situation is unpleasant and fiercely contested. I listen to barristers advising their clients in loud pompous voices in court waiting rooms for £500 an hour. Its disgusting and sometimes they treat them like cattle and use a near ‘head or tails’ approach when negotiating. Its not difficult to act as a “Litigant in Person” saving virtually all court costs but it does carry significant risk if you get it wrong.

4. The ongoing financial thing will define your life for 2 decades. This is a really difficult one. If you fight tooth and nail for everything, then rest assured that the CMS will make sure that you support your kids by a formulaic amount for 18yrs. If you give her everything then rest assured the CMS will make sure you support your kids by a formulaic amount for 18yrs. As a father you need to be strategic about this and make sure concessions and decisions reflect the fact that in a decade or so you will still may be paying mum 20%ish of your post tax income irrespective of how your lives have changed, how much you gave her or your current situation. Remember that CMS has nothing to do with the court financial outcome unless the relationship between the two is unambiguously Ordered. And the CMS? Don’t get me started. Its just not fit for purpose.

I hope this isn’t relevant to you. I would be interested to see if other voices on the forum think this sort of talk is unhelpful or too dark.

They say acrimonious divorce is in the top three most stressful things you are likely to experience. It really is.