The Future of….Separation
– by Pip Wilson, Founder, amicable
You’re in your early 40’s, it’s June 2016 and your marriage is falling apart.
The pressure of work and kids and the passing have time have meant you have drifted apart and after months of pain you have both agreed it’s over.
You’re sad, you’re not thinking straight and the road ahead feels long and painful, where do you start? A friend introduces you to their lawyer, the first conversation is free, subsequently it’s £300+ an hour.
You’re facing a total cost of thousands, much more if you end up in court. Surely every penny counts when faced with the prospect of supporting two households?
The lawyer, your friends and family all say you need professional support.
Maybe you can do it yourself, there is countless information available, but it seems so impenetrable: where do you start? You try and talk to your partner but it turns into a row, waking your youngest child, who sobs inconsolably “Please stop shouting Mummy and Daddy.”
Now you have to determine who is at fault. The current law in England and Wales decrees one of you must take the blame for the break-up of your marriage, what’s that going to achieve?
Everyone seems set on turning it in to the biggest fight possible, how is that going to help you, you partner or your kids get on with their lives? Surely this is a broken system?
Why has technology added so much (whether you like it or not!) to some parts of life but barely influenced other events such as divorce and separation?
Partly there is a generational aspect, the mobile generation haven’t yet reached the “peak” divorce age, so haven’t demanded better solutions.
Then there is the legal industry promulgating the view that every divorce is unique and you need someone on your side. Acrimony and protecting an individual appear to be actively encouraged and the level of emotion clouds even the most rational person’s mindset.
What is in essence an emotional process is generally perceived as being a difficult legal process. The result is that historical approaches endure, with fear and misunderstanding preventing change.
So what could the future of separation look like?
At amicable we believe that as humans we need to be encouraged to recognise the difference between the emotional process and the practical one, to allow ourselves time to focus on the sadness and grieve what we have lost.
It is unnatural to expect someone in times of great stress to be able to make rational practical decisions on a given day because that’s when they happen to be seeing their lawyer!
It’s also fundamental that if someone needs help from a professional it’s the right person at the right time. If you are struggling with the emotional side of divorce see a counsellor or even a friend; not a lawyer.
Once these two journeys are recognised the potential of technology to help with the practical side becomes much clearer. The practical side is simply a series of decisions to be made, including where you children will live, what your house is worth, where you will spend Christmas.
The majority of those questions are the same for everyone. They may be difficult decisions but they can be turned into an easy-to-follow process that breaks down the communication barriers and moves people forward in a time frame that works for them.
Technology can help individuals communicate better, it can help shift through vast quantities of data to show you precedents, it can pre-fill agreements and it can facilitate negotiations.
Why not let it do all that and let humans focus on dealing with emotions?
– with thanks to the author, Pip Wilson, Founder of amicable