(Names have been changed to protect privacy)
Lucy – Ashford, Surrey
Adultery, mediation, DIY divorce, telling the children
When I found out that my husband had had an affair I was 6 months pregnant and very vulnerable . I didn’t initially leave my husband and for a while we visited Relate services and tried to resolve issues within the marriage for the sake of our 3 children. However once this was exhausted and I realised the marriage was unsalvageable I decided to gain help in order to understand my rights and entitlements.
I went to see Diana who was very supportive and helped talk through the emotional side of things. Once I had made the decision to leave my husband I needed some sort of direction as to where to start….the finances, the divorce or the children? Diana helped me immensely with this and helped me see the wood for the trees and understand the different processes involved with divorce etc.
She also put me in touch with various key people who would help me along the way….so our financial mediator who was very good in the sense of giving us a set price for 4 mediation sessions and encouraged us along the way to come to a decision together for settlement which we thankfully did…it was a rocky and sometimes emotional few months however I am proud to say we came to an agreement in the end which suits both of us.
The solicitor Diana referred me to has been brilliant and gave me the strength to push in the mediation for the ownership of our family home and encouraged me in every way to ensure that me and my 3 children will be protected for as long as possible.
I was worried about telling our 3 children that they had a half-brother (from their father’s affair). We had individual meetings with Gill Cashdan, and then one joint meeting, when she gave us good advice about how children think and the language to use with them. I knew it was important to be honest with the children, but not how much we should say. Gill explained the extent of the truth to tell, and what was acceptable to say without it appearing that I was blaming their father.
Telling the children didn’t go exactly as planned and the children were quite confused, so I’ve had questions to answer since. (As well as being told by my 7 year old, who’s been brought up to ‘care and share’, that I’m selfish as I “didn’t want to share daddy with another woman”!) I was thankful to have Gill’s words in my head to be able to reply, and I would definitely recommend her to parents who are splitting up.
Diana encouraged me to manage my own divorce to save money, which I have done. The whole thing has cost me about £4,500 and taken just over a year from start to finish.
Alice – Manchester
Violence, mental health, keeping perspective
Alice was a professional woman in her 20s when her husband’s violence began. She says:
My husband developed an anxiety disorder, which slowly progressed into a schizoid break. He became someone unrecognisable to me but I loved him dearly and believed he would get better.
When he started to hurt me, it was because I was preventing him doing harm to himself. But this escalated, and after several months it came to the point where he nearly killed me and he did kill the baby I was carrying. To this day I find it hard to forgive myself for not leaving him before that could happen.
His parents threatened me not to go to the police but my GP gave me an ultimatum – go to the police, she said, or I will.
One thing I realised later is that it’s impossible to think clearly in the midst of a divorce or court case. However much I turned the situation over in my mind, I never came to any conclusions and tended to go around in circles. I put this down to the constant emotional pressure, the intense need to retain normality as much as possible and the feeling of having no control over the outcome of the case. It made me unbearable even to myself, because it felt like there would never be an end.
This is what makes it vital to have someone on the outside to give you perspective, or just to reassure you that you’re doing the right thing. This is what Diana provided at the points where I felt I wanted to give up, or stop working or leave my home. It’s so important to have a calm voice at the end of the phone; and the reassurance that the hardest thing was the right thing.
Above all, Diana helped me to make decisions myself rather than suggesting solutions which is what most people try to do when you are very distressed. Diana helped me to change my thinking around the situation, which helped me to regain a sense of control.
I was very nervous before the trial and I was told that many men often plead not guilty (or are advised to do so) because women are too scared to go to court. But once he knew I was there and determined to go ahead, my ex-husband changed his plea so I did not have to give evidence. He was given a suspended sentence and I was granted a lifelong restraining order, for which I am very grateful.
Diana continued to be a support for me following the divorce and criminal court case. I have managed to carve out a life for myself which is not dictated by the divorce; and when I think back to how impossible that felt at times, it makes me realise how far I have come.
Seeing things differently, metaphor process, divorce petition after mediation, keeping communication going, avoiding court
I was recommended to contact Diana a year ago by my sister and brother-in-law who had found her advice very helpful. She also helped my niece when she was a child.
My husband saw Diana early on but I only met her after we had been working together on the phone for many months. Throughout the time of our separation Diana has always been there to talk to with reassurance and to make sense of what I am going through.
She is very acute and can make you see things in a totally different way. My husband had acted in a way that did not just affect our marriage but also my wider family. I have been helped to see that what he did was not aimed at me but rather that I was ‘collateral damage’. His state of mind was to blame. Diana is interested in how the whole family is coping and makes suggestions for helping everyone.
Her mantras work and I am realising – slowly – the power the mind has to overcome endless negative thoughts with positive ones. Diana also did a metaphor process with me about how my husband was making me feel when we met to talk. The next time I saw him I was able to tell him that I felt he was bombarding me, which helped. I can still conjure up the mental image Diana helped me see – it is almost dreamlike.
Diana referred us to a Financial Mediator and we had six sessions. It took a long time to fill in the forms but it was worth it and they could also be used by our Solicitors for the court order, so nothing more was necessary.
The Mediator was impartial and would not talk to either of us on the phone except to make appointments or for general help with those forms. We were able to argue over things and I never felt that he was taking the man’s side, which I think my husband hoped would happen and I was worried might happen.
I would recommend going to mediation because it is inexpensive compared with going to court, and I felt safe. The Mediator was not interested in what had happened, or the emotional stuff. This enabled us to talk dispassionately about the financial side. If things began to get difficult, we would have a break and then carry on. The Mediator always ended on a positive note, so that we came away in a reasonable frame of mind, even if we were wrung out.
I waited until we had resolved financial matters before issuing my behaviour petition so as not to inflame the situation. We have avoided the acrimony and expense of going to court as we have been able to talk to each other despite the very difficult circumstances in which our marriage ended.
To arrange a free, confidential, 20 minute chat about how I might be able to help you, please email me or call 01932 843434