How to manage the financial process without a divorce lawyer

Getting divorced and can’t afford or don’t want to engage a solicitor? Don’t worry. The legal process is easier if you do have representation, but it’s certainly possible to hold your own in the family courts without – especially if I’ve got your back! Being a litigant in person (representing yourself) isn’t everyone’s first choice – it’s often the only choice. Others choose to do bits of the process themselves to keep precious funds for when legal advice is absolutely necessary.

There are two foundations to managing your own financial process: preparation and calm. Easier said than done, you say? In How to manage the financial process without a divorce lawyer I’ll show you how.

Be Prepared

I’m not sure whether I believe the adage fail to prepare and prepare to fail in general terms, but I know it’s true when it comes to managing the financial process without a lawyer. You cannot wing it – seriously. You’ll come unstuck so fast you won’t know what hit you. Remember the Girl Guide motto #beprepared

The good news is you can start right here. If you haven’t already, read my blogs on Financial Disclosure and Financial Remedy. They’ll give you the background to what you’re dealing with. Do it now!

Preparation isn’t a one-off activity. Just like staying on top of all the evidence you need for financial disclosure, preparation is on-going. This doesn’t mean you need to become a divorce bore – please don’t, there’s more to you than divorce! But you do need to stay actively engaged, and not push it away because of fear or because you wish it would disappear.

Get organised

Organisation is absolutely key to success in this process. You need all your paperwork filed in one place with a table of contents, a diary for key dates and reminders on your phone to take certain actions or chase outstanding items. Make it a part of what you do every day. This means (a) it will get done without mounting up and (b) it won’t take over your life as you’ve set aside time.

Organisation means you’ll know every square inch of your divorce case and his. It will also help to keep you calm and increase your confidence.

Keep it business-like

Always remember this is a business process, however personal it might feel. Be professional. If you can, send emails or type letters. Don’t handwrite letters – if you want to be taken seriously, take it seriously. If you don’t yet have a printer, go buy one, borrow a friend’s or use the service in your library. You can print directly from your phone if you don’t have a laptop.

Do your research

Understand the law as it relates to your jurisdiction. In England and Wales you need to understand s25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. You may also need to become familiar with the Family Procedure Rules 2010.

If you have pensions you need to understand the type of pension you have and the type of scheme it’s in. Get copies of the rules for each one so you understand what’s going to be possible for you. You will need to do the same for your soon-to-be-ex’s pension if you’re hoping to receive a share of it. 

Check out your own mortgage borrowing capacity. Find out what it would cost to buy and rent a suitable property even if you plan to stay in the family marital home. The court could order sale of the home and you might end up in rented accommodation. You need to know what that might cost so the judge can take it into account. 

Remember the actual divorce process is separate from the financial separation process. If you’re a member of the Absolute Academy, revisit the #DivorceLive challenge in the portal for an overview of both. If you’re not an Academy member you can find out more and join here

Stay calm

Whether it’s mind monkeys whispering ‘you can’t do this’ or anger about the unfairness of it all, you must master your emotions. Imagine that you are a business woman (you might be already) going into a financial negotiation to save a company or imagine you’re going into a business meeting to negotiate for the welfare of your children. That’s exactly what’s happening here.

This is about something so much bigger than your feelings. When you focus on the big picture you cease to be the downtrodden wife you may feel you’ve become and instead become the lioness protecting her cubs or her territory. 

Staying calm under pressure means not taking anything personally. Simply focus on the business aspects of legal separation. Have the awareness and courage to accept that if you’re struggling, you need to get support to get this done. 

Respond don’t react

Many things will annoy and irritate the hell out of you, especially in letters, texts and emails from your soon-to-be-ex-husband or their solicitor. Don’t take anything personally. Some solicitors (not all), write appalling letters to clients who are unrepresented! Unfortunately, they may be trying to take advantage. Don’t be psyched-out by a rude and obnoxious letter from your ex or their solicitor. Mostly its posturing – it might be the best they have.

Respond calmly to correspondence with a correction of the mis-stated facts. Don’t be rude and obnoxious in return, as much as you might want to. Keep it professional and consider reporting the solicitor to the Law Society or Resolution later. 

Feel free to rant at trusted friends, me, or others in the Absolute Academy if you need to!

Remember – this is a business deal

Divorce is one of the most stressful experiences of your life – up there with bereavement. But you must remember that when it comes to the courts it’s simply a paperwork trail and the appropriate application of the law.

Judges view hundreds of cases, they will not get caught up in your emotional story. They will look at facts and figures. So you need to have those to hand. You need to have done your research so you understand the area of law you are dealing with and you need to have thought through both your case and your soon-to-be-ex-husband’s too.

Get help! Self-representation doesn’t mean going it alone

When I’m asked about How to manage the financial process without a divorce lawyer, my thoughts are these:

Going through divorce and financial remedy without a solicitor doesn’t mean you need to go it alone. As a former lawyer, I can help with the knowledge-based and practical aspects of your divorce, so you understand exactly what’s going on. As a coach I also help you envision life after divorce, work through your emotions, put yourself first and get to where you want and need to be by making smart decisions.

Get yourself into the Absolute Academy today, for all the legal and practical know-how you need, as well as a fabulous community of women who will have your back.

And if you want some 1-1 support to get this divorce DONE, let’s chat

The Divorce Alchemist

Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is author of the Amazon best selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a practising family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com

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