Starting over

Keith Churchouse knows about divorce. Not only is he a financial planner so he understands the money issues, but he has been through the divorce process twice himself. Now he has written a book, Addicted to Wedding Cake, to help anyone struggling with all the life-changing issues that divorcees face in attempting to start over again, including potentially the need to find or change jobs. Workingmums.co.uk asked him his views on the whole process.

Keith Churchouse knows about divorce. Not only is he a financial planner so he understands the money issues, but he has been through the divorce process twice himself. Now he has written a book, Addicted to Wedding Cake, to help anyone struggling with all the life-changing issues that divorcees face in attempting to start over again, including potentially the need to find or change jobs. Workingmums.co.uk asked him his views on the whole process.

What do you think are some of the myths about divorce?

The first myth is that divorce is going to be a nightmare. It does not have to be and if the parting couple can work together this will save costs and anxiety through the process. Sure, there are going to be pinch points that will cause turbulence, but hold on to the bigger picture. Also, divorce does not have to cost a fortune, although it is easy to rack up some significant bills if you are not careful. Remember, you pay to argue.
 
What advice would you give someone who is a newly single parent and having to face up to seismic changes in their lifestyle, such as having to go back to work?

I think the first thing is not to bury your head in the sand and hope the changes will go away. They won’t, and the sooner they are faced and addressed, the better. Also, don’t be too proud to take up offers of help, whether that be advice from those you trust (and make sure you do trust them!) to more practical offers of help on a day-to-day basis. This can be a very lonely time and those who care for you may need to know what you need, so make sure you ask for help where needed.
 
Do you think there is enough support out there for divorcing couples?

Yes, I think there is. However, the quality of the support varies and, in many situations, there is a cost which may well be unacceptable or unnecessary. There is lots of information available about the twists and turns of divorce, but bringing it together into a cohesive structure can take time. Do your own research and reading and explore other avenues of support where available. You may want to consider counselling which can be very helpful and there are many good quality coaching services to help through the situation.
 
What do you think are the most difficult issues to face in divorce?

First of all, one of the most difficult issues is the magnitude of the process. Let’s face it, you are dividing all aspect of two lives, from money, houses and pensions. This can be an emotional rollercoaster. Knowing and understanding the process, even if it is just to mark where you are, can be daunting and this is why the new book is so important.

The next point has to be the money side of things. Agreeing who gets what, including capital and future maintenance payments, can usually be emotive and sometimes distressing. Keep your eye on the big picture of how your new life is going to look.
 
How can acrimony best be played down?

Try and keep a level head about the situation. Once the divorce ball starts rolling it rarely stops. Getting used to the idea and working together to achieve a reasonable outcome is usually advisable. I have many divorcing couples who come to see me together to discuss division of assets, such as pensions, and it is always inspirational that a parting couple can keep the bigger picture in mind, collaborating for a mutually better outcome. Try and keep the communication lines open at all times to keep costs and anxiety to a minimum.
 
What kind of advice do you wish you had had, at least the first time around?

My first wish is that my book, Addicted to Wedding Cake, had been available to read when I first started my divorce. I think that my anger at the situation caused me to be pedantic about all aspects of the process and you can guess that the solicitor’s bills rose accordingly. Had I been told to always keep my eye on the final objective of finishing the divorce process it may have been a lot easier, cheaper and quicker. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing!

What do you think your book adds to the advice that is available?

The book adds a total overview from someone who has been through the mill (twice!). It is difficult to combine the legal, financial and emotional issues together in one place at low cost and the book goes a significant way to achieving this in a readable and understandable style. It summarises where appropriate and highlights the ‘nitty gritty’ issues that you will need to face, whether you like it or not, on your journey through the process. Divorce is unlikely to be easy, but the book will at least show you what is involved.
 
How can you regain your confidence following divorce or ensure it is not knocked so badly that you find it difficult to recover?

I have been focussing on this in my follow-up book, Nagged, Tagged and Bagged, Journey of Recovery. As with most things in life, you need to think about what you really want to achieve for your future. Think ‘outside the box’ as you may have a blank canvas to fill. You may want to change everything or just a few things, but change has got your name on it. From my research and surveys, recovery can be an inspiring process and allows many to rediscover themselves and who they want to be.
 
Can divorce ever be positive?

Yes, without doubt! I am not advocating divorce, but marriages end for all manner of reasons. Sadly, you tend to hear about the ones including infidelity and acrimony, but others just fizzle out and it is time for each party to start new chapters of their lives and reinvent themselves. The recovery stage from divorce can be exciting and invigorating and many discover this after the divorce process. The life experiences of the marriage are very valuable, but the new life ahead of you may be even more valuable.
 
Keith Churchouse is a Chartered Financial Planner and author of Addicted to Wedding Cake – the journey to divorce, £12.99. http://www.churchouse.com/blog.php. Five free copies of the book are available to the first people to send in a request to mandy@workingmums.co.uk. If you have any questions about divorce for Keith, please email them to mandy@workingmums.co.uk





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