Stages of Relationship Breakdown

Relationship breakdowns are almost always difficult and highly emotional experiences for both parties. Often breakups can leave you feeling deeply hurt or alone, and after the end of long relationships many are unsure what to do next.

Is divorce right for you?

Divorce is a legal process undertaken through the Courts to officially end a marriage.  Ultimately divorce can have lasting effects on issues such as ownership of the matrimonial home or inheritance rights if one party dies. We would always recommend that you seek legal advice before issuing divorce proceedings.   The divorce process itself does not automatically deal with the financial aspects of separation but it is often the case that the divorce is needed to be able access a mechanism to resolve financial issues arising from the separation.   We would always recommend that you seek legal advice before issuing divorce proceedings.


Marriage guidance counselling

Often if you are having problems in a relationship, but do not feel that the relationship is over, or neither of you want to give up on it, counselling can be a helpful process to try to determine whether issues between you can be resolved. This would typically involve you both attending a course of marriage guidance counselling or relationship counselling to talk through problems between you and see whether they can be resolved to maintain the relationship.

Individual counselling

Sadly there are often circumstances where marriage guidance counselling leads to a decision to end the marriage and separate.

Relationship breakdowns are never easy however amicable the separation. Often breakups can leave you feeling deeply hurt or alone, and after the end of long relationships many are unsure what to do next. Counselling can often be an invaluable support if you are struggling to come to terms with the end of a relationship, or feel you need support in deciding what steps to take next.   At Crombie Wilkinson we very much believe that individual counselling should be utilised by more individuals who are going through the separation process to assist them in being more positive in their outlook for the future and to help face the challenges ahead. We are in contact with a number of organisations who provide counselling following relationship breakdown or if you are experiencing difficulties.


If a relationship breaks down, both parties will have decisions they need to make. Firstly, where possible, try and come to agreements amicably, whether this is about the children, finances, who lives where etc.

If you need advice or help as to what you can/should do, you can speak to a solicitor initially to establish what you need to do. Seeking advice at this stage does not necessarily mean that you are going to move on to divorce proceedings however a solicitor can advise you on all aspects of the process so that you can make an informed decision. Some people are able to make decisions together about what will happen once they are separated but other ‘s may feel they need a solicitor to guide them through the steps they may need to take.


Separation is considered to be the point where both people in a marriage feel that the marriage has ended and no longer wish to be together as partners. This is often taken to be the point when one party moves out of the matrimonial home, although this is not always the case, and many couples remain living together following separation due to financial constraints or circumstances around the children.  In many respects there is no formality to a separation but often people are concerned as to whether they need to formally record when the separation took place.    Often couples need to plan very carefully the timing of any physical separation, for example moving out of a former matrimonial home.    We would very much recommend that individuals consider obtaining legal advice before taking those final steps to ensure that their positions are protected as far as possible.

To read more about different stages within the separation process click here.


Mediation is a process which can be used to reach agreement between couples following the breakdown of a marriage on issues such as dividing up financial assets, or looking at arrangements for children. The mediation process begins with parties separately attending an initial meeting with the mediator. At this meeting the mediator will fully explain the process and tell you what you can expect. Provided you are both willing to go ahead, there will then be a joint session with both of you and the mediator who will help to identify the issues and look at the objectives you both wish to achieve.

The mediator’s role is impartial and they will not ‘take sides’ or offer legal advice to either of you. The mediator’s role is to identify the assets or issues between you, help in valuing the assets then try to help you achieve a settlement or compromise which both of you can accept moving forward. If agreement can be reached, this will be recorded in a document prepared by the mediator called a Memorandum of Understanding.

Mediation is not appropriate for every case, and often there are circumstances, for example violence in a relationship, which will mean it is not appropriate. It is however more and more being seen as a less confrontational and expensive alternative to Court proceedings to reach agreement on financial and children matters following family breakdowns. There is even now a requirement of the Courts that parties must demonstrate that they have considered resolving their dispute with mediation before issuing a Court application. The Courts are now taking this very seriously and we are expecting to see more and more matters rejected by the Court if mediation was not first attempted.

At Crombie Wilkinson, we have a dedicated family mediation service in relation to both finances and children, to find out more click here.

To find out more about divorce and divorce proceedings click here.

If you can’t find the information you need or have decided you want a divorce, please contact a member of our family law team. Alternatively, telephone our office closest to you to arrange an appointment to come in and see one of our specialist family solicitors.