Reasons Why Dating Your Spouse Could Save Your Marriage

Even though we’ve been together for 15 years and married for 8, we still make sure that we have ‘date nights’.  Cheesy?  Possibly.  Sanity-saving?  Definitely.  Expensive?  Depending on your childcare arrangements – but I still maintain it’s worth it.  Dating your spouse can be a marriage-enhancing activity that can bring you closer.

dating your spouse - man and woman on a date outside a cafe in France

It isn’t always easy to find the time (and sometimes the energy) to dress up, put your lippy on and make a reservation at a great restaurant (and lord knows in Cardiff we’re spoiled for choice) but here’s why I think dating your partner is very important and why date nights should regularly appear in your diary.

Reasons why dating your spouse is important

It maintains your connection and helps you to reconnect

Relationships are always in a state of flux and can be very complex. Make sure you understand and take an interest in what is going on in your significant other’s life by spending quality time with them.

Protect the intimacy you both shared in the early days by nurturing it with special time doing the things you both love – and those things that drew you together in the first place. Mat and I spent days exploring National Trust properties and finding cosy country pubs to dine at.

Going out just the two of you allows you both a brief break from your busy lives and gives you the chance to focus on each other and rekindle your romance.

Once that connection between you is lost there is a danger that your relationship will wither and you’ll be ‘just friends’ or worse, ‘ships that pass in the night’ – all too easy when you both have busy jobs.

It’s an investment in your future

As with anything in life, the more effort you put in, the more you are likely to get back – and it’s no different with relationships.  There are many sad stories of couples who, when the kids leave home, have nothing in common anymore and very little to say to one another.

That’s why prioritising adult time is as important as family time.  Everybody benefits.

It’s a chance to put any distractions aside

Every day, you and your partner may be pulled in many different directions – kids, chores, friends, work,  elderly parents – the list can be endless. Making time for a date night ensures your connection is kept at the top of the to-do pile and will give you a mini holiday from all that ‘noise’.

It’s a great opportunity to revisit happy memories

Why not take the opportunity to reminisce together about the things you did before you married? If things have been a bit rocky of late, it may help you remember why you fell for your partner and why you made that public commitment to spend the rest of your lives together.

It reassures family members

When you continue to date your spouse, it sends out a strong message to everybody around you. It shows them exactly how important your relationship is to you and also how much you value your partnership with your other half. This is a great way to show your kids how special a strong relationship can be.

If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll be slightly scandalised but happy to see you go out holding hands.  It’s good to model affectionate behaviour for them.

It can take time to find the right babysitter and yes, it can be an extra expense so you could compromise by finding some lower-priced venues to visit.

It reinforces the bond between you and keeps the spark alive

The more time you spend with each other, the stronger your bond is likely to become. Remember the days when you only had eyes for one another?

If currently, you are so overwhelmed by your daily commitments that, come nighttime, you just want to get into bed and sleep, it may well be time to find ways to bring the passion back to your relationship.

It helps to you destress

If you spend your days grouching and grumping at one another because you’re both tired and at the end of your tether, a date night can be a valuable opportunity to get some well-earned downtime.

Stress can be a big threat to a happy marriage or relationship, whether from parenting, finance or romantic issues.  It can change not only our behaviour but that of those around us as they struggle to deal with the more negative behaviours stress can cause.

Tension at home could affect not only the parents but the children too and studies into the health of children living in hostile households have shown them to have greatly raised levels of anxiety hormones.

It shows you are willing to make things work

When you date your spouse or partner you are openly demonstrating your commitment and devotion to them. It’s you and them against the world. Separation is certainly not on the agenda.

A date night is an opportunity for couples to discuss their hopes and dreams and what they want their future to look like.

It’s good to get your partner’s perspective on things and, if you are prepared to really listen to each other, you’ll find you can learn a lot.

Sometimes you might want to address things that have been bugging you, or a behaviour that you wish would change and it’s far easy to discuss these things in a relaxed setting where you can really hear your partner’s responses.

A caring partner can provide support that carries you through all sorts of personal challenges, even minor ones that are just enough to ruin your day.  They can give you the confidence to make vital changes and remind you that yes, you are an attractive, worthwhile person.

We don’t stop being a woman just because we’re a mother, do we?

A 5 Minute Strategy That Might Save Your Relationship

God, people are so annoying, aren’t they?  And, having been cooped up with several of them for over 10 days, it’s fair to say a few of us might be a little, well, tetchy.

Mug showing kissing couple - 5 minute strategy to save your relationship - motherdistracted.co.uk
Love is… bringing you your early morning cuppa

Unless you’re a relationship guru or have rock solid assertiveness skills (no, me neither), that sanity-saving alone time, those moments of peace where you remember who (or even where) you are and that space just to breathe have probably all fallen by the wrapping-paper strewn wayside.

Oh, alright.  Yes, it’s selfish but we women often brand anything that is soul-feeding selfish. Men, to happily stereotype and generalise, don’t seem to suffer the same angst involved in taking time out. They’ll chuck trainers in a bag and breeze off to the gym or leg it to the pub for a ‘swift half’ without having to raise it with their therapist later.

The thing about stereotypes, you see, is that there’s very often no smoke without fire.  But it is very un-PC these days to say that.

So, what can we do to keep the peace and to avoid wrecking perfectly decent relationships with basically lovely people?  Some of us have a terrible habit of sabotaging the very things that make us happy for no other reason than we are bored and need to create a bit of drama – or we’re crying out for some ‘me time’.

It’s no surprise that lots of relationships finally bite the dust during holiday periods when couples are forced to spend time together and have to deal with their issues.  Or the fact that there are no longer any issues between them whatsoever.  The latter, of course, is a common problem once the children have left home or are old enough not to need round the clock parenting anymore.

But, equally, sometimes it’s just a bad case of cabin fever and too much time to analyse that’s the problem.

I’d suggest that if you are finding yourself in fault-finding mode and wondering why your life hasn’t turned out to be the Disney cartoon fantasy many of us baby boomers were promised, then you do the following.

When that critical voice in your head keeps yabbering away – “they never, if only they would, why won’t they, ” and on, and on, and on, just take 5 minutes and list 5 things you like and appreciate about them.

I’m not suggesting you get out a flipchart but just list them in your head or write them in your diary.

These don’t have to be huge things – just things that make you smile and feel cared for. Love doesn’t always appear wrapped in a grand announcement.

Do they bring you a cup of tea in the morning?  Do they record your favourite TV programme for you if you’re out?  Do they cook your favourite meal when you’re feeling a bit down or run you a bath?

Everyone has their good points.  Well, almost everyone.  And I’m sure if you think hard enough you can remind yourself of why you thought it was a good idea to let them into your life in the first place.

Just 5 minutes.

To preserve one of the most important things in your life.

It’s worth a try, surely?

Because if those 5 minutes stop you losing your temper, flying off the handle or saying something hurtful that you don’t even mean, those minutes may be very valuable indeed.




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Deciding Whether To Leave A Relationship: Stay Or Go?

Deciding whether to leave a relationship has to rate as one of the most difficult decisions adults have to make – particularly when there are children involved.  As a parent, your children will always be a large factor in most of the decisions you make – from small things, like the food you eat in the evenings, to the bigger ones, like the sort of house you choose to live in. Of course, in most cases, the choices you make will be to benefit the little ones.

This can make things get very complicated when the choice you have to make is one of staying or going. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring this sensitive area, while also going through some of the work you can do to make a big decision which will affect everyone’s life.

deciding whether to leave a relationship - boxing gloves

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Before you can start thinking about the impact it might have, though, it’s a good idea to consider exactly why you would want to leave your family. In almost every case, this will be the result of a breakdown of your relationship with your partner and your children will simply be involved by proxy.

Deciding whether to leave a relationship

Living in a relationship which you don’t like is never a good thing. But, at the same time, it can be hard to willfully cause disruption in your little one’s lives. Having this sort of dilemma in place can make life very hard, forcing a lot of people to endure things they hate and making the decision whether to leave incredibly difficult.

Choosing To Stay

In reality, most people will end up sticking out their relationship until their children are at an age when they will be able to reasonably cope with it. This sort of approach won’t take any additional work, but will also come with some negative factors.

Below, you can find some examples of both the pros and cons of this side of the argument. Of course, though, you also have to think about how this will be applied to your children, as they will all react differently.

The key benefit of this sort of approach is the lack of turmoil it will bring to your children. Being unable to understand certain issues, children will often assume that they are the problem, and this can make them feel very bad. By staying together, you will avoid this issue, while also making things like school much easier for them. You will have to work hard to make this sort of arrangement work out.

Along with the benefits which come with this, a lot of parents will fail to consider the negative side of it, and this can have a lot of damage on your children’s future. By staying together, you will increase the chances that arguments are had in your home. While they won’t be directed at your child, this sort of conflict can be very bad for them, and it will impact their social development for the rest of their life. Of course, you will also be unhappy if you stay, and this is a very important factor to consider, too.

Making a situation like this work out properly will take a lot of work. To begin, it will be worth making sure that both sides of the partnership know what is going on. It is unfair to plan something like this behind someone’s back, and it will be very hurtful to them if they find out later down the line. As part of your agreement, you will both have to work hard to avoid showing signs of your dismay. This can often be achieved without any trouble.

Deciding whether to leave a relationship - You Got This chalked on tarmac

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

Choosing To Leave

For some people, the idea of staying with their partner will be too much to bear, and leaving will feel like the only option available. Like staying, there will be a good and a bad side to this, and you will need to think about them both before you get started. The process of leaving itself could be one of the trickiest parts of this. So, to make sure you have everything you need, it could be worth making arrangements before letting your partner know.

One of the main benefits of this sort of option is the escape you will get from it. By not living with someone you struggle with, you will be in better moods, and this will be felt by your children. As a side effect of this, conflict will be a thing of the past for your kids, and they will be able to visit you without the fear of an argument brewing. A lot of children find that having their parents split up can be good for their education, if it happens at the right time.

With the good in something like this, you will always find a negative side. When it comes to divorce, going through legal proceedings, splitting assets, and carrying out the other work involved with this process could be very time consuming. Along with this, as mentioned earlier, this sort of process can have a very negative impact on young children, as they will assume that they have caused the rift. Your newfound freedom will also come at a cost, as you will get a lot less time with your children than you are used to.

Handling a divorce correctly will almost always require some outside help. Companies like Austin Kemp divorce solicitors have a wide range of skills and experience in this sort of field. This can make it much easier for them to win the battles you will have to face, almost always resulting in a settlement which falls in your favour. Along with this, you may also need help when it comes to deciding where the kids will live. It’s always best avoiding court with this choice, as this will help to keep the children out of the whole thing.

Hopefully, with all of this in mind, it will start to get a lot easier to choose the best course of action for your relationship. In reality, it’s usually best to follow you instincts with something like this. Of course, though, if someone breaks your trust or hurts you, it’s important that you’re able to break away and look for a fresh start; you just have to think about the kids in the process.

Deciding whether to leave a relationship is never easy but by putting some of these ideas into practice, you can go some way to minimise the disruption and keep those vital channels of communication open,with both your partner and your kids.

Why Getting Divorced May Lose You Your Friends

My friend J remarked the other day that she was sure she was being deliberately ignored on Facebook and she suspected she might be losing friends after divorce.

What had been a lively page full of fun banter and conversation now had the social media equivalent of driftwood blowing across it.

woman in coffee shop on her phone - losing friends after divorce

J is in the middle of a messy divorce, having left her husband in a move which has led to the family living in two different towns.  After 25 years of marriage, though, J says she and her husband had simply just grown apart and life at home was becoming unbearable for her and her three teenage children. She has a new partner which has probably led to a judgement that “there’s no smoke without fire” and got fingers well and truly wagging.

It’s not surprising that J has found herself left out and ignored because the truth is that when one of the couples in your friendship group splits, everybody starts to examine their own relationship.

It’s said that the only people who know what goes on in a marriage are those in it. I think every marriage has a secret contract – the real reason that a couple stays together.  This would explain why some will put up with endless cheating – because they are validated as a person in other ways.  For some, simply being in a partnership is enough.  (Note I am not talking about domestic abuse or violence here and if that is your situation I urge you to seek help and talk to somebody about it).

It’s the ‘smug married’ syndrome Helen Fielding’s singleton heroine [amazon_textlink asin=’B01LHE7N9S’ text=’Bridget Jones’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’mothedistr-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’8f16a507-b200-11e8-bdfa-d78b55907884′] loathed and yearned for in equal measure.

So why would your friends shun you when you split?

Jealousy – rarely admitted but I’m sure that some may wish they were brave enough to take the first step to long-desired freedom

Embarrassment – we never really know what to say. Should we mention your divorce? Should we mention your ex?

Loyalty to your ex. They were your ex’s friends first – no matter how shoddily he or she may have behaved, long-standing friends may feel compelled to remain loyal

Disapproval – yes, some of your friends will judge and they won’t approve.  There are those whose attitude to marriage is that you suck up the bad times and make it work. People’s boundaries for cheating also differ hugely.  For some kissing someone else is unforgivable.  Others will put up with the occasional fling as long as there is no love involved.

On the other hand, you are likely to find that one friend who becomes your new ally, confidant and sounding board.  These are the friends who love others’ misery and are there like a shot to ramp up the bitterness and criticism of your ex.  You know these kinds of people because an hour in their company leaves you feeling worse and full of self-doubt.

The advice these people give will be of the “take him/her for every penny”, “you gave them the best years of your life” and “you deserve to be happy” variety.  The latter, of course, is true but I think if you have children, your own happiness should be second priority to ensuring that they come through the ghastliness of a family separation as unscathed as possible.

Parental divorce hits teens and young adults just as hard as younger children. (There is an excellent article on Parental Divorce and Adolescents here.) Where possible mediation should be considered so that both parties can discuss matters in an adult way and move forward with the needs of their children fully addressed. This is likely to be far more productive than listening to the advice of your new confidante who may not even have your best interests at heart.

What if you are the friend, wondering how best to behave?  Bear in mind that siding with either party is a risky strategy if there is the remotest chance that they will reconcile.  You will be the one left with egg on your face if you have advised “making them pay”.

I would advise polite concern.  Is there anything you can do to help?  Could you babysit the children or take them out so that the couple have a chance to talk?

Could you damp down gossip when it arises by changing the subject or refusing to be drawn?

Could you help your friend by accompanying them to a solicitor or mediator?

The most positive thing you can do is probably just to listen without judgement (not always easy).

No matter what you think about the partner who has instigated the divorce, they are still their kids mum or dad – and no child wants to be on the receiving end of negative comment or gossip about their parents.  These things have a way of coming back to those discussed.

Everybody in this situation needs to act as an adult.  Unfriending on Facebook, unfollowing on Twitter and any other form of social media alienation, no matter how tempting, is not really the mature way to deal with things.

Friends are harder to come by and keep as we get older and if your friend instigated the divorce, I’m sure they would far prefer to put their side of the story, than find themselves suddenly shunned. One day, you may find you need their shoulder to cry on.

You may have parted ways with your spouse but losing friends after divorce may well be something you can avoid.

You can find more relationship advice on my weekly problem page.

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losing friends after divorce - woman on a stone bench with her head in her hands

 

Editor’s note: this post was originally published in July 2015 but has now been updated.




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Getting Divorced – Is Your Partner Spying On You?

Spying on your ex.  Would you do it – or would your ex or soon to be ex-spouse do it to you?

If you’re getting divorced, you are doubtless stressed and upset.  You have a divorce lawyer who is your confidante, your sounding board and your ally. You can tell them anything, certainly things you wouldn’t tell your husband or wife, and together you are forging an escape plan – whether your situation is amicable or no longer friendly.

Sad woman in an office sitting in the shadow cast by venetian blinds - spying on your ex

Your correspondence with them is confidential – or so you think.

Let’s be honest, the last thing you want is for your soon to be ex to discover your plans. You are under enough stress without the additional worry of your partner getting hold of confidential information which could jeopardise the outcome of your case.

But Nicola McInnes, head of family law at Gorvins Solicitors has issued a stark warning about the rise of what she terms ‘spousal hackers’ – Those who think spying on your ex is justified when it comes to a break-up.

You may have read recently about Anthea Turner’s confessions that she turned detective to prove that her husband Grant Bovey had rekindled his affair with a much younger woman.

Bovey was unaware, she writes, that his seemingly technophobic wife had in fact garnered enough IT knowledge to track him via PC, SatNav and this bicycle computer.

Says McInnes “people planning to get divorced should change their email addresses as soon as they have separated in order to prevent spouses hacking into their account and finding information which can be used against them”.

She is finding an increasing number of clients are complaining that their divorcing partner has broken into their email accounts and social media sites such as Facebook.

Be too chatty on Facebook and you may find you’ve given any advantage you might have had away. Make sure you change all your social media passwords as soon as possible.

Hard though it is, now may be the time to unlike your spouse’s Facebook page and to stop following their other accounts. Once the dust has settled you can always re-establish contact but for now, you don’t want your private thoughts and emotions broadcast to all and sundry. Particularly when divorce seems to send shock-waves through your friendship network and may even lose you some friends.

Says Nicola “We`ve found that hacking spouses are particularly keen to find any emails we may have sent which contain advice as to our client’s entitlement or because they believe their divorcing spouse is hiding income or assets. I had one case when we felt the husband was always a step ahead and my client was convinced that he had read emails we had exchanged”

“Facebook profiles are also targeted because they may contain information that can be referred to in court papers. Some clients have told me that their exes have even threatened to disclose the private photographs they`ve found on social media accounts as a way of getting what they want.”

Studies suggest that 20% of all couples in the UK argue regularly or consider separating which seems like a conservative estimate to me.  Interestingly, the last figures released by the Office for National Statistics in December 2016 showed that divorce had fallen to the lowest level for 40 years in 2014. That said, there were still 111,169 couples in England and Wales who divorced in that year.

And hacking someone else’s email account is a criminal act, even if it is done as a prank. Falling foul of the 1990 Computer Misuse Act by doing this can lead to criminal charges and a possible 2-year prison sentence.

It’s not surprising that, at such a difficult time, people resent having to change their passwords and email accounts but not doing this could put them in a vulnerable position.

So if you are in the process of getting divorced, it’s time to change all your passwords and be very careful about what you confide on social media.

Reignite The Spark In Your Marriage With These Top Tips

If you feel like the spark and romance have disappeared from your marriage, you are not alone. Many couples, especially those who have been together a long time, experience this in their relationship. There are a number of reasons why this has occurred. From a lack of quality time together to no longer making an effort with one another. Not matter how long you’ve been married, your relationship with your partner should be fun and make you feel excited. Just because the spark has gone, doesn’t mean it has to remain that way. To bring some passion and romance back into your marriage, use the following advice.

couple embracing

Surprise each other

In the early stages of your relationship, it’s likely you made the effort to surprise each other regularly. Whether it was with flowers or tickets to a concert, these surprises made you both feel fantastic. This is why it is so important to bring them back into your marriage. They don’t have to be large, expensive or over the top. You could surprise them with their favourite meal or make them a playlist for the gym. You could also buy an item that they’ve had their eye on for a while. These tokens will be a wonderful way of showing your partner how much you still care and how well you know them. Plus it will then encourage them to reciprocate with their own surprises.


Start a couple’s hobby

Spending more time together is key in bringing the spark back. Starting a couple’s hobby that you can commit a few hours to each week is an excellent way of doing this. Choose a day where you both have the most free time, then brainstorm hobby ideas you might both enjoy. You could join a walking group or write a children’s book together. You could compile a list of films you’ve never seen and use this time to watch them. Having a hobby that you can work on together will help you communicate more effectively with each other too. You can use this time to get to know each other again and find out how your partner is feeling. This can only benefit your marriage.

Plan a short break together

Getting away from the responsibilities you have at home will give you both a chance to spend time together and recharge your batteries. So take some time to research potential holiday destinations and accommodation together. You might consider exclusive ski chalets in Meribel or prefer a beach hotel in Ibiza. Or you may want to stay closer to home in a quaint bed and breakfast. Use this opportunity to visit somewhere new that you can discover together where you don’t have to worry about the kids. Planning together will ensure you choose a location where there are activities you are both interested in. This will add excitement to the break and give you both something to look forward to.

Relationships require hard work to keep them from becoming stale. So make the effort and encourage your partner to do the same. It shouldn’t take long for your to return to the love-struck couple you once were.

*collaborative post

Post Christmas Divorce Rush Predicted To Avoid Hike In UK Divorce Fees In April

Online divorce firm divorce-online.co.uk, the single biggest filer of divorce petitions in England and Wales, is predicting a big spike in divorce filings in January as couples rush to beat the Government’s proposed hike in court fees to file a divorce.

Sad girl looking through window - cost of divorce UK - motherdistracted.co.uk
Divorce is stressful enough, without the added financial worry

The fees will rise in April from £410 to £550 a massive 34% increase, despite the actual cost of processing a divorce having been calculated at £260.

A draft statutory instrument has been laid before parliament and unless the Government do a U turn in the next 3 months, the fees will be introduced at the start of the new financial year.

As one of the largest firms sending divorce petitions to the divorce centres, Divorce-Online are already warning potential divorcees of the coming rise.

Mark Keenan a spokesman for the company believes that the rise will prevent couples on modest means from formalising their split and many couples will be left in a legal limbo for years, separated but not able to finalise their divorce because of the sheer cost.

Since the withdrawal of legal aid in 2012 for divorce cases, the number of people looking for cheaper alternatives to traditional solicitor led divorce routes have rocketed using services provided by companies like Divorce Online.

As the cost of divorce in the UK rises, it is likely that even more couples will turn to the Internet to seek a more cost-effective alternative to the traditional high street legal practice.

Further information: contact

mark.keenan@divorce-online.co.uk.  Twitter @mrdivorceonline

Review: On-line Legal Advice From www.expertanswers.co.uk

Having spent 14 years in Legal Services Marketing and after working for a number of law firms, I know only too well that many hesitate at the thought of consulting a solicitor for advice. 

Primarily, people worry about cost and about starting a course of action they cannot control. 

The irony is that, with many problems, for example matrimonial difficulties, you are much better placed to make sensible decisions, particularly if there are children involved, if you know where you stand legally.

Online legal advice from the team at expertanswers.co.uk

www.expertanswers.co.uk

Christmas and the New Year are very busy times for lawyers. 

There is usually an increase in instructions for divorce in particular as the strain of the festivities push spouses too far. 

Then there are accident and personal injury cases and also conveyancing matters as everyone clambers to be in their new home for Christmas. 

You may be faced with parking fines or employment rights matters as it seems many businesses these days struggle over the Christmas trading period with resulting redundancies.

Whatever your problem, I am sure that the thought of driving into town to consult a lawyer may just be too stressful to contemplate on top of everything else. 

With Legal Aid being squeezed and many Citizens’ Advice Bureaux closing, it can be difficult to know where to turn.

So I was interested to read about www.expertanswers.co.uk – a new online legal advice service comprised of a panel of barristers, lawyers, solicitors and legal executives, which aims to knock down these hurdles by offering accurate, affordable and reliable answers to legal questions from the privacy of your own home, 24 hours a day.

How does it work?  There is a simple four step procedure. (Apologies for the slightly blurry screen shots but I wanted to give you an impression of how simple the process is).

1. Ask a question, providing as much information as possible. Type your legal question in the box, selecting the category of law your question falls into.

2. Put a value on the answer by moving a slider to indicate how much you are willing to pay, the minimum being £10 and the maximum £150.  You will be asked to create an account and once you have done this you will be asked to pay your agreed deposit via Paypal, a debit or a credit card. You will be asked “What else have you tried? How important is your question?  How much do you want to pay?”.

3. Receive a summary answer to your question which, if no further advice is needed entitles you to a 100% refund.

4. If you need more information, you may access your full answer which means you will be charged the price you have agreed. You will, however, be entitled to free unlimited advice on your question once you have accepted your full answer.

www.expertanswers.co.uk promises no hidden charges and you may have a free one-to-one with a legal expert once you have accepted your answer.  

They says that their service is confidential, anonymous and secure and offer 100% satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.

I have to admit I am somewhat baffled by the charging structure which seems almost too good to be true, but I thought I’d seek advice on behalf of a friend who is considering divorce (not me , I hasten to add!).

I chose £30 as my deposit being aware that matrimonial advice is often not straightforward.  

Within a matter of hours I received a response from my legal expert Karl Edwards requesting further information. 

Shortly after this I received an email notifying me that the answer to my question had been posted. 

The summary gave a general appraisal of the key points but confirmed my suspicion that the question would require a more complex answer and would thus incur my agreed deposit of £30 for the full response from Mr Edwards. 

In this, Karl neatly summarised the key issues, highlighted points my friend needs to consider and also included helpful links to online documents (for example a guide to current CSA payments).  

He recommended that my friend consider mediation as a first step in order to avoid wrangling over finances in court and advised that now was definitely the time to start taking legal advice.

I felt that the response highlighted the next steps to take and was a useful starting point for making difficult decisions that bit easier. 

Using www.expertanswers.co.uk is, in my view, a useful alternative to making an appointment to see a solicitor face-to-face until you have committed yourself to a course of action. 

It is low cost, risk free and I found the service I received to be helpful and friendly. 

With in-house solicitors charging upwards of £50 + VAT for an initial consultation (although some do still offer a free first appointment) and many no longer offering Legal Aid, I would certainly recommend Expert Answers as a first port of call.

* I was allowed to ask one question free of charge for the purposes of this review.