Tom and his wife had one young child and divorced after five years of marriage. They reached an out of court divorce settlement. 

What I wish I had known:
That it takes both people to use the collaborative law process. If collaboration wasn’t possible during your marriage, it is not reasonable to expect it to materialise through divorce. Focus on the big picture, as the small matters can be time consuming and unnecessarily costly to negotiate.

The low point:
The process has been a rollercoaster. Initially I felt positive, as it was empowering to be doing something about the state of my marriage, rather than living with the problems. It became more real when contemplating moving from the matrimonial home, and the impact that would have on the time with my daughter. The mediation process over time with my daughter was incredibly hard and I was tempted on several occasions to abort and initiate the court process. In the end, the upside potential of going to court did not seem worth the investment of time, heartache and money, and so I decided to make a start on the child arrangements and revisit later if necessary.

The certainty that I did the right thing:
I have no question that I did the right thing. It’s a very difficult decision to take and something I contemplated for a very long time. Each person must assess their own situation. My conclusion was that life’s too short to live with unhappiness. I now have a chance of happiness and a second go at things. For all the pain and upset I have incurred through the process, I am confident it will prove worthwhile in the long run.

One thing I would do differently:
I should have been gentler in my initial messaging that I wanted a divorce. I wanted it to be clear and direct so that the message was received, but I feel perhaps it was too harsh and without kindness, and that this set things out on a more acrimonious path than it otherwise might have. Funnily enough, I received advice from somebody to make the initial messaging very clear and direct – so a learning point is not to listen to all advice and be sure that it’s relevant and good for your situation.