Getting divorced? Take a breather

You've both agreed that your marriage is over and it's time to sign the divorce papers. It's a tough time emotionally, so thinking about money, property and child custody is probably the last thing on your mind.

But these issues need to be dealt with and burying your head in the sand will not help. It could make things worse, especially if your partner is desperate to get the ball rolling and feels as though they've been left to do all the legwork.

So do you call in the lawyers straight away, or do you try to sort things out yourselves? The answer to that question obviously depends on the individuals concerned and their reasons for divorcing.

However, even if you're breaking up on bad terms, it's sensible to stop and get some perspective before taking costly legal action that could prompt a long and bitter battle in the courts.

There are several things you need to consider after you decide to get divorced. If you have joint assets, you need to decide how they will be split.

Is one person going to keep the house and take out a new mortgage in their name, or are you going to sell the marital home? Savings and other assets will also need to be divided.

But it's not just cash and property you should think about. Furniture, household appliance, jewellery and other valuables can add up quickly, so you should include these when calculating the value of your joint assets.

If there are children involved, things may become a little more complicated. You will need to decide which parent they will live with and how often they will have contact with the other.

Maintenance payments will also need to be discussed, as financial responsibility for the upbringing of children falls on both parents.

In the immediate aftermath of a decision to separate, considering such important issues will not be easy, so it may make sense to step back and take a breather.

Anger and grief will cloud your judgement, so taking some time to yourself to consider your options away from your everyday life may be a good idea.

This is exactly what Cheryl Cole after finding out her husband Ashley had been playing away. While the public were screaming at her to divorce Ashley, she jetted off to LA to clear her head and take stock of what had happened.

After talking things over with close friends, she reportedly devised a divorce strategy, setting out unambiguous terms for her husband and being clear about what she wanted from the separation.

According to newspaper reports, it now seems as though her divorce will go through harmoniously and without the help of solicitors, with all of the couple's joint assets being split fairly and evenly.

By following Cheryl's example, you could make your own divorce easier a little easier to bear and avoid paying sky-high legal fees in the process.

Don't let your resentment or your heartache make you act impulsively. Throwing your partner's clothes out of the window and changing the locks may make you feel better in the moment, but in the long-run it will only exacerbate the tension.

Be open and honest. Don't hide anything from your partner, financially or emotionally. You are more likely to remain on good terms if you put all of your cards on the table.

If both of you can reach agreement on money matters, child custody, jointly-owned property and future financial support, then you could save yourselves a fortune in legal fees and prevent further heartache by conducting a DIY divorce swiftly and painlessly.

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Published on: April 30, 2010

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