21/06/2017 09:27 BST | Updated 21/06/2017 09:27 BST

Readiness For Negotiations

The analogy of Brexit being like a divorce has helped many commentators explain the complex and multi-faceted negotiations that the UK will soon be undertaking.

The political predicament generated by the June General Election on the eve of the start of Brexit negotiations provides another analogy often experienced by a divorce lawyer: what happens when one side is ready to start the negotiation and the other isn't?

Divorce, like grief, takes time to be emotionally processed. The cycle of emotions leading from shock and anger, to negotiation and acceptance, can be unpredictable and often a separated couple will take very different timescales to come to terms with what has happened.

Generally speaking, the person who has chosen to end the relationship will start emotionally processing the consequences of that decision long before they have even discussed it with their spouse meaning that there can be a mismatch in emotional preparations and readiness to start negotiating the exit from the emotional and financial ties that are inherent in a marriage.

In my experience, it is critical that both parties are given the time to reach a level of emotional acceptance before a financial negotiation starts. That is not always possible, particularly where urgent financial protections are required, but where we can, we always try to give people the space and time they need to come to terms with what is happening before asking them to start contemplating a new and often unforeseen future.

A divorce negotiation that starts without proper preparation and focus will inevitably become more protracted and challenging for a couple. Equally, they will soon discover that the financial negotiation will not help them heal or process their emotions - revenge and punishment rarely fill the void of pain generated by a relationship breakdown.

Separating out the emotions and the legal negotiations, and taking appropriate advice and professional support for both if required, will put people in the best place to have a successful negotiation with the shared objective of achieving a fair resolution meeting the needs of everyone.

This sort of negotiation is complex enough already. Couples should take time to get themselves practically prepared and emotionally ready to avoid making the whole process even more complicated by rushing in when they aren't completely ready to do so.