Stowe guests: Why do I need a divorce coach?

Today for Stowe guests, we are joined by Rebecca Spittles, a Divorce Coach from Bristol.

Rebecca offers one-to-one coaching sessions and workshops that focus on the emotional and practical issues surrounding separation and divorce.

She joins us to explain how a divorce coach can help you to stay focused and make clear and well-informed decision before, during and after a divorce.

“Why do you need a Divorce Coach?

Whether you have left, you want to leave or have been left, a Divorce Coach will sit beside you steering you through the myriad of information and emotions that will come up during and after your divorce process.

Unlike a psychologist or counsellor who will analyse and give advice, a coach is there to motivate, guide and inspire. A coach will focus on the outcome, and then break that down into sections (maybe weeks or days) so that you can make clear and well-informed decisions with the help of your solicitor.

A Coach is there for YOU as a sounding board and empty space for you to fill with the EMOTION of your Divorce.

But I have fabulous support from my friends and family.

Yes, and that is amazing, you can tightly wrap them around you. However, your coach will be there for you to rant at, to be angry at, to look for solutions for you, to help you find the light at the end of what can be a very long tunnel.

The most important thing is that your coach is unbiased, non-judgmental and wants the best outcome but isn’t your mum, sister or best friend who have their own personal feelings regarding your situation. A coach allows you to manage your own feelings and find strategies to deal with the emotions of the people closest to you.

What about the cost? I am already paying for a solicitor.

It’s no secret that it costs to get divorced, but by working with a coach you can speed up the process, save the frustration and unnecessary emotional turmoil and, in turn, save money. You can fully utilise your solicitor to do their job: to make your actual divorce as straight-forward as possible, sort out the financial element and the child contact element. You won’t feel the need to lean on them for emotional support – which they are not trained to give.

The benefits of a divorce and separation online course

This course is designed for anyone who has been through or is going through separation and divorce and is run in a group setting via Facebook.

It includes interactive Zoom calls once a week as well as my regular presence on the page – not forgetting the chance to ‘meet’ people in the same place as you.

Small 5 minute ‘Game Changer’ challenges will be posted daily as well as inspirational stories and techniques to assist you at this truly challenging time of your life.

My next course starts on 1st July for further details go to my website or call 07427 173839 or by email:

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Stowe guests: How play therapy can help children and teenagers of divorce and separation

For children and teenagers going through a divorce or separation, expressing their emotions can be difficult. To start, they do not communicate as well as adults by talking and do not understand how to verbalise the emotions that come from a family breakdown.

Instead, they often use play to express themselves. This is a non-threatening approach where they are not asked to talk but instead just play. However, through play, a lot of what they are feeling, and thinking is projected.

So, for this instalment of Stowe guests, we asked Penn Wall from Penn Wall Play Therapy to join us on the blog to explain how Play Therapy can help children and teenagers going through a divorce or separation.

“Play is an essential part of every child’s development emotionally, socially and spiritually; it helps to develop the child’s personality and character. It is necessary for children to reach their full potential and can result in long-term positive health effect both physically and mentally.

What is play therapy?

Play therapy empowers children and teenagers to cope with problems in their lives and to increase their self-esteem and confidence. It improves their emotional wellbeing and may be used to help and support a mild to a moderate, emotional or psychological problem that is preventing them from functioning normally. Play therapy is called special time for the younger children and chill out time for teenagers.

What will my child do in play therapy?

There are many activities for children and teenagers to do in play therapy. Sand tray, art, clay and role play are generally the most popular. There are musical instruments, art & crafts, dolls, puppets, dressing up clothes and props, as well as a selection of objects that they use in the sand tray. The child/teenager chooses what they want to do and at their own pace.

I am getting a divorce and worried about my children, how can play therapy help? 

If your children are showing signs of anger, frustration, sadness or depression, it might be that they are struggling to deal with the enormity of the situation that they find themselves in and over which they have no control.

Children and teenagers often feel that a situation is their fault, or their mother’s or their father’s fault. Their upset and frustration can result in emotional outbursts, becoming withdrawn, being physically/verbally aggressive and acting in a way that parents may not have seen before.

This behaviour is completely normal, but it naturally causes great concern. This is where play therapy can help.

By creating a safe permissive space, children and teenagers can process things that are going on in their lives through play. Play therapy is about reflecting feelings back to the child/teenager in such a manner that they gain insight into their behaviour. It is about acknowledging that you are listening and have heard what they are expressing. This does not necessarily need to be verbal.

It is giving the child the empowerment to make choices and institute change. During symbolic play and through using metaphors the child/teenager is able to express their emotions. This enables them to release their emotions in a way that they discover their inner self and strength. This is a pathway to believe in themselves.

What are the benefits of play therapy?

Play therapy really works as a way to handle a divorce or separation, by enabling children and teenagers to express, process and deal with their emotions.

I recently worked with a young boy who was struggling to deal with the changes brought about by divorce and this was impacting on his school, home life and relationships.

We worked together in weekly sessions and as his Mum noted, “He changed into a confident and happier little boy. For me, the biggest impact was he was able to communicate how he was feeling, something that he found really frustrating before.”

To find out more.

To find out more about how play therapy can help children and teenagers going through a divorce or separation you can visit my website: Penn Wall Play Therapy or email:

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Stowe guests: Tax and divorce by Sofia Thomas Limited

In this instalment of Stowe guests, we catch-up again with Sofia Thomas from Sofia Thomas Limited.

A specialist tax consulting services to law firms, family offices and high net worth individuals, Sofia has worked in financial service for over a decade and has previously consulted for Google.

She joins us on the blog today to share her answers to some of the most common question she receives from clients regarding divorce and tax.

In my last guest blog for Stowe Family Law I shared some top tax tips to consider when getting divorced. In this piece I thought it might be helpful to pull together a list of the most common questions client’s ask me.

Do I need to consider tax on my divorce?

 The big money questions! I have pulled together a high-level flow chart for Stowe blog readers to provide some guidance on this question.  Clearly, it’s not possible to cover all eventualities, however, I have considered the most common issues. In situations where there may be some tax implications I’ve included some questions which I hope will assist you in raising this with your solicitor or tax advisor.

Download flow chart PDF

Will my settlement be taxable in the UK?

 No, divorce settlements are not taxable in the UK. This is the same for deferred settlements. If a deferred settlement is paid late and there is interest due on the late payment, the interest only may be taxable. For example if you divorce in 2020 and per the consent order your £200,000 settlement will paid to you by December 2021. There may be a clause in the consent order, that if not received by this date there will be interest due on the late payment at 3%.

Assuming you finally receive the settlement by June 2022 you would received £200,000 plus £3,000 in late payment interest. The £3,000 interest only will be assessed to tax.

What if my settlement is tied to the sale of an investment property we both own?

 If you are the joint owner of a property which is going to be sold after the divorce and your settlement proceeds will be funded from this sale then there will be a potential tax liability. You will be taxed on your percentage of the gain. The capital gains tax rates for property in the UK are 18% (if you earn under £46,000) and 28% (if you earn over £46,000 or if the value of the gain would take your income to over £46,000).

Each individual in the UK has a capital gains tax annual allowance of £12,000 (for 2018-19) which reduces any taxable gain.

By way of simplified example if you sold a shared property for £500,000, if you owned 50% of the property you would need to report the portion of the gain which relates to your ownership of the property.

For example, see the simplified capital gains tax calculation below;


Simple Capital Gains Tax Pro Forma
Sale Price £250,000
Purchase Price (£125,000)
Less all costs
– selling costs
– purchase costs
– improvements to the property
Total Gain £120,000
Less Annual Allowance (£12,000)
Taxable Gain £108,000
Capital Gains Tax Payable at 28% £ 30,240


This gain must be reported on a tax return and paid to HMRC. If your settlement is funded by the sale of a joint property after the divorce one option available to you, is to seek advice on the potential capital gains tax liability and then request an indemnity against this in the consent order.

We are selling our main home will there be capital gains tax to pay?

In the UK there is a relief called Principal Private Residence relief (PPR), this relief allows you sell your main home without paying tax on the gain if you meet certain conditions.  The main conditions are

  • You have lived in the property as your main home for the whole time you have owned it

There is an addition to this relief which allows the relief to continue for an additional 18 months after the you have left the home. Note that this 18-month extension may be reduced to 9 months from April 2020.

In simple terms if you have both lived in your house as your main home for the whole time you have owned it then principal private residence relief should be available to exempt the total gain, so that no tax is payable.  If one spouse has moved out of the martial home but it is sold within 18 months from the date they moved out, again no tax should be payable.

If you have not lived in the home the whole time you have owned it or have multiple properties you should seek further advise. Additionally, if you have been absent from the home for over 18 months there are some reliefs which may be available to reduce any taxable gain but you should seek advice on this.

You can find out more about Sofia Thomas Limited by visiting the website here.

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Stowe guests: Three tips to help children through divorce

In this instalment of Stowe guests, we catch-up back again with Claire Black from Claire Black Divorce Coaching.

Today, she joins us with three tips on how to support your children through divorce (they also work well for adults). Over to Claire to explain more…

I see a lot of clients who are worried about the impact their divorce may have on their children, and they ask how they can best support their children through the process.  Many of the techniques I use with my clients are simple and work brilliantly with children, with very positive results.

Here are three of my favourites:

Help them to find the upside

I worked with a mum recently whose daughter was finding it very difficult to adjust to life after her parents’ relationship broke down.  My client felt that she wasn’t best equipped to help her daughter handle her emotions at a time when she too felt bereft and low.

We worked together to find the upside, and to reframe how my client could look at her situation so that she could see a different perspective.

“Flip it to find the positive, and concentrate on that” – Sara Davison, the Divorce Coach

You can help your children to do this too.  Try asking your child:

  • If there was one tiny upside to this, what would it be?
  • If you could see a silver lining, what would it be?
  • If there was just one good thing about this, what would it be?
  • What are you glad about today?

These are fabulous questions that can help your child to see a positive even if it is only small right now.  I used to look for the upside all the time during my own divorce, and it really helped to be able to see glimmers of light.  When you practice asking these questions, it becomes a habit and gives you a whole new way of approaching any challenge.

My client’s daughter responded that she enjoyed going swimming with Daddy on her own last week and that they’d had fun in the park on Saturday.  She was also enjoying the opportunity to do more craft activities with her Mum when they had time together.

Your child might resist and say there is nothing good about this at all, but persevere, “I know it might not be obvious, but if there was one good thing about this, what would it be?”.  You could give them your examples of the tiny good things:  it could be that you can now cook with ginger whenever you fancy, or that you don’t need to watch EastEnders any more. And show them that you can find the upside yourself.  Watch them follow your lead.

Show them how changing how they stand can change how they feel

“The way you move determines the way you feel” – Tony Robbins

Sometimes all that is needed to kickstart a change in mood is to change your physiology.

Have you ever felt low and fed up, but then done something silly or fun, or jumped up and down or struck a power pose – and immediately felt better?  It may not seem like the obvious thing to do, and you might resist doing it at first, but I promise it will make a difference.

I have been known to get clients to jump up and down 5 times, or strike a Superman pose in the middle of a session.  Or I get them to stand with their arms outstretched and put a massive grin on their face.

If you haven’t tried this for yourself, do it now!  See what happens.  Try it with your children.  If nothing else, you will have a laugh together – which will send endorphins, the feel-good hormones, flowing around your body.

Show them how to be in ‘control of the clicker’

“Whenever I’d complain or was upset about something in my own life, my mother had the same advice – darling, just change the channel. You are in control of the clicker. Don’t replay the bad, scary movie” – Arianna Huffington

Wise words!

Your brain will try to answer the questions you ask it.  When you ask questions like “why is this happening to me?”, “what did I do to deserve this?”, “will this never end?”, the answers can cause your mood to spiral downwards very quickly.  If it can spiral down that quickly, then asking better questions can reverse that downwards movement.

I spend time with clients creating lists of better questions to ask themselves, such as:

  • What would my best friend advise me right now?
  • What would help me to feel better today?
  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What choices do I have right now?
  • What have I done that I am proud of?

Often clients write their questions onto post-it notes and stick them up around their house, to remind them to ask those better questions.  These questions work equally well with children, and they encourage them to model the resilience that you are showing yourself.

Children learn by experience and by modelling the behaviours they see in those around them.  When children see and model a parent who is calm and collected, who responds with dignity in a crisis, and who has strategies to handle stress and challenge, they too grow in resilience and confidence. By passing on techniques and tips to your children, you empower them to process what is happening and move forward themselves.

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Not one in ten: Why family dispute numbers matter by Families need Fathers

Today we welcome Michael Lewkowicz. Director of Communications at Families need Fathers to the Stowe Family Law blog with the first in a series of exclusive articles.

“Over the few years, I have attended various Cafcass events – open board meetings, conferences, consultations. Occasionally their chief executive, Anthony Douglas, ‘clarified’ that whilst there were tens of thousands of court applications for Child Arrangements, they represent just 10% of family separations with 90% resolving things out-of-court. ‘Great’ one might have thought, ‘so it’s not such a big issue for most separating families’. The prevailing narrative was that many of those were then resolved adequately before full proceedings. Some came to mutual agreements in early proceedings and only a very small proportion, the story went, perhaps under 5% formed the ‘difficult’ cases that involved ‘high conflict’ – the cases that nobody could really “expect” to do anything about. The message was not quite ‘well that’s alright then’, but it seemed to be heading in that direction.

It was something of concern, but never became a priority and all those thousands of dads, mums and grandparents coming to Families Need Fathers and family lawyers for help were at best unlucky to be faced with confrontational ex-partners or perhaps mutually confrontational or, worse still, the ones made to feel responsible for the conflict.

The trouble was, that visits to our support meetings did not seem to reflect this. It was affecting too many people and, guess what, many of them were lovely people who would not say ‘boo to a goose’.

More troubling still was that the numbers, that the ‘small minority’ narrative was based on, simply did not ring true. I’m no mathematical genius, but if there are some 50,000 court applications each year, less 30% return cases leaves 35,000 new applications. If these represent 10% of separations, then the implication is that there are some 350,000 break-ups a year. Assuming an average of 2 children per case (Cafcass average figures) implies 700,000 children involved. Since the number of births in England and Wales in 2017 was 679,106 the figures suggested that every single family separated before their children left school. Spot a problem? We did.

Over subsequent months we raised this with Cafcass’ newly appointed Director of Strategy, Teresa Williams. The great news was that she too thought this was odd. Some months later I bumped into Ms Williams again and was very reassured when she said Cafcass were re-calculating this and were getting nearer the reality – which was over a third of cases! In fact, Cafcass later reported that the figures looked like being 38%, a nearly four-fold increase over the widely quoted previous value!

Now we had, in the absence of detailed data, made some estimates of our own using a range of disparate sources and came up with a figure of slightly over half. Since then Cafcass, at their most recent open board meeting, told us that about a third of cases were families returning to court.

We knew returns to be frequent, but this was higher than we imagined. We speculate that returns have grown in recent years since the guidance was issued exhorting judges to end proceedings within six months. This is good for court statistics showing that cases have been disposed of quickly but can lead to some cases being prematurely closed.

Taking all this into account, our original estimate seems not to have been that far off the mark. The new Cafcass figure certainly cuts right through what now seems to have been a surprisingly long run of what might these days be considered ‘fake news’. The President, no not Trump, but of The Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, observed the shift in presumed wisdom in his speech last week to The Resolution Conference.

Sir Andrew told the conference that this is

“a far cry from the previous comfortable urban myth based on a figure of 10%. It indicates a major societal problem…”.

The importance of understanding that the true proportions of families going to court is almost four times greater than previously thought was also brought into sharp focus just a few weeks ago at the APPG on Legal Aid. We drew attention to the long-term opportunity to diminish the reliance of separating parents on family courts from a up to half of cases to around the level of 2% – that was being achieved in Sweden. The minister, Lucy Frazer MP, responded by ‘correcting’ us and reciting the 10% figure from the old narrative that the opportunity was not really that big nor worth the government prioritising it. My brief interjection to the minister received a frosty response from the chair – our apologies for this.

We have now written to the minister with an update and we hope Cafcass will have updated her too. The desperate need for reform of family justice is now even clearer. Unquestionably, for tens of thousands of needlessly damaged children and parents, that reform is very urgent.”

Families need Fathers (FNF)

FNF is a leading UK charity supporting dads, mums and grandparents to have personal contact and meaningful relationships with their children following separation. They offer information, advice and support services on how to provide the best possible blend of both parents in the lives of children.

You can find further information on the Families need Fathers website.

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Stowe guests: Rewriting your divorce story

In this instalment of Stowe guests, we catch-up back again with Claire Black from Claire Black Divorce Coaching.

Today, she joins us to look at how you can rewrite your divorce story and five great questions to ask yourself to help you along the way.

How often do you find yourself telling your divorce story?  

How does it make you feel when you tell it?  

How you tell your story matters, because it will affect the way you feel inside, how you react, and how others see you.

 When my husband first left, I told my sad story a million times.  I focused on how awful it was, how hard I was finding it, how unfair it was, and how angry I felt.  I spent hours and hours trying to work out what had gone wrong, why this was happening to me, and not coming up with any answers – or at least none that were helpful.  

It was no wonder I felt down!  Every time I told my story, I was re-feeling all the emotions that were tied up with it.  I saw myself as the victim of my divorce, and that was keeping me feeling stuck and overwhelmed.   

I realised I needed to do something to shift how I felt and rewrite my story.  I needed to ask myself better questions, ones that would empower me to move forward and begin to think in different ways.

These are 5 of my top questions that you can use to rewrite your divorce story, and shift how you feel:

If there was one good thing about this, what would it be?

This is a hugely powerful, but simple, question, and one that I ask all the time. It can be challenging to think of a good thing when you’re feeling very low, and your first reaction might be “that’s impossible, there is nothing good about this!”.  

Try it once and see what happens.

 I have had all kinds of answers to this question in sessions with me, ranging from “we can eat fish fingers and beans now whenever we like”, “I can turn the light on in the en-suite now when I get up in the night”, to “I no longer feel like a prisoner in my own home”. If you practice asking yourself this question whenever something throws you, you are training your mind to refocus on moving forward. It might be a challenge at first, but if you persevere, it will become a habit, and you will find that you can spot the upside in anything.

What have I done today that I can be proud of?

Rather than focusing on what you can’t do, shift your focus onto what you CAN do, and what you have achieved. I often ask clients to make a list of all the things they have achieved, and what resources they needed to achieve that.  I remember when I mowed the lawn for the first time after my husband left. It sounds like a simple thing, but I’d never done it before, and I felt afterwards that I had achieved another “first”.

What can I do now that I couldn’t do before?

This question also shifts your focus onto opportunities that may be in front of you.  Perhaps your ex hated flying, and now you can plan a holiday abroad. Perhaps you enjoy long walks in the countryside, but it was impossible with small children, and now that you have some time to yourself you could join a walking group. Or maybe your ex disliked certain foods, and now you are free to eat it whenever you want.  The answers don’t have to be huge things, they can be tiny differences – but they are powerful.

What do I have to be grateful for?  What makes me happy?

I always say that gratitude is the best antidote to negative emotions. Despite everything that is happening around you, what good is there in your life? Once I ask this, it is amazing what people come up with. Family, friends, children, health, sunshine, an email of support, a moment of realisation that you are loved.  Just yesterday, a client described how she was able to stand looking out to sea in the sunshine, breathing in the smell of the sea, listening to the sound of the waves, and she was grateful for that moment of peace and calm. Once you know what makes you happy, how can you do more of that?

What new things have I learnt through this process?

Take a moment to consider what new things you might have learnt.  They might be small, and they might be huge. It doesn’t matter – the important thing is that you are shifting your focus.  I learnt so many things through my divorce. I learnt how to fix my car, how to juggle bank accounts, how to breathe so that I could calm my thoughts, and most of all I learnt a huge amount about myself, how strong and resourceful I am, what mattered to me, and who I am.

Take a piece of paper, and a coffee, and sit down to answer these questions.  Notice how you feel as you go through them. Are there good things around you that you aren’t even noticing?  

Now think about how you could tell your story differently. Try telling someone your new story and notice how they react.  Also, notice how it may shift how you feel.

After all, the smallest of things can make the biggest difference. Start with your story.

You can read Claire’s other blogs here and get in touch with her here. 

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Stowe guests: The things we don’t say

In this instalment of Stowe guests, we are joined by Natalie from Thrive & Flourish, a training and development company that helps people to transform the way they are perceived by others and give them new-found confidence in how they communicate.

Today, she joins us on the blog to look at how the way we communicate, both direct and indirect, can affect the relationships in our life, especially our partner.

When it comes to communicating it is often the things we don’t say that have the most impact. Our movements, expressions and the sound of our voice can sometimes put across a meaning that is entirely different from what was intended.

It has been suggested that body language may account for up to 70% of all communication and there is plenty written about how to read someones but how often do we reflect on our own body language and what it says to people.

Take a moment to think about how you speak, how you move, your facial expressions. What is that you are really communicating? How are you actually perceived? What vibe do you give off? Have you developed habitual patterns in your own communication?

Sitting slouched in a chair, not making eye contact when listening to others, speaking so fast it feels like, to others, that you want to get the conversation over with, fidgeting with your fingers, interrupting people as they speak, are all seen as negative communication techniques but for some people they may be just a habit. However, habits can be broken.

Good communication is the foundation of a strong and healthy relationship yet it is often the simplest bad habits that get couples into trouble. Problems escalate when people repeat their mistakes again and again.  

Three of the most common communication mistakes in a relationship I have encountered are:

Shouting at your partner – this may feel good in the short-term but can very easily form into a habit and become the only way you communicate strong emotions

Speaking before thinking – we are all guilty of saying things as a reaction without thinking it through. Stop, take your time and think before you speak.

Negative non-verbal communication – you may not have said anything negative but your expressions, gestures and body language say something very different.

So when you have a moment think about your own habits: What vocal patterns do you have? How do you sit or stand? Do you talk over people?

And think about how you communicate with your partner. Can you spot any negative habits? Why not honestly rate how you communicate? Without fixing communication issues, your relationship will always struggle.

Take time to think about the above and you might be surprised at the impact of what you don’t say.

Get in touch

At Thrive & Flourish we can help. We look at practical ways to enhance your understanding of your voice and physicality and make simple yet effective changes to transform how you communicate. Unlike traditional training, our programmes place emphasis on self-awareness, discovery and an understanding of how you are perceived by others. You can visit our website here. 

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Stowe guests: Seven tips to survive Valentine’s Day from a divorce coach

For the Valentine’s Day Stowe guests, we catch-up back again with a regular blogger for us, Claire Black from Claire Black Divorce Coaching.

Claire is one of the UK’s first accredited specialist Divorce Coaches, a former lawyer, and Advanced NLP Practitioner. Today, she shares her tips on how to handle Valentine’s Day when you are going through a divorce or separation.

When you’re in the middle of a separation, Valentine’s Day might seem like the last thing you need right now. All those reminders of romantic love, emotions and dinner dates. The commerciality of Valentine’s Day is almost impossible to ignore. Even Google will probably change its logo to surround it with floaty hearts.

For those of you who are going through a break up, Valentine’s Day can be sad and depressing. I know, I’ve been there. It is easy to feel low and lose yourself in thinking about the “what if’s and the regrets.

I am here to reassure you that you do have a choice. Like me, you can consciously decide to make things different. You have power over the remote control to your brain, and there are things you can do to dial down your feelings.

So, I’ve created a list of my top seven tips to handle Valentine’s Day this year.

Ask yourself empowering questions

Your brain will always try to answer the questions you ask it.  Try asking yourself how you can make the day better for yourself. How could you show yourself a little love? Buy yourself flowers, go on a ‘date’ with your kids, watch a funny movie, or buy yourself those chocolates. Why rely on someone else to do it for you?

Flip your focus

Instead of thinking about what you might be missing, think about what you DON’T have to put up with any more. What always irritated you about your ex? What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?

Disconnect from social media. Don’t check up on your ex, to see what they are doing. That way madness lies. Instead, flip your focus back to yourself, and what you can do to make things that little bit easier.

Have some fun and do something different

Spend time with other people in a similar situation. Get together with your single friends, and have an anti-Valentine’s Day get together, or a games/movie night. Try out that new class you’ve been meaning to go to.

If you and your ex always went to the same place, or did the same thing on Valentine’s day, make a conscious effort to do something different – try something your ex would never have done but that you know you’re going to love. Create a new memory that, in time, will override the old ones.

Show your loved ones how much you appreciate them

Valentines doesn’t have to be about romantic love. So today, let your kids, your family, your friends know how much you love and appreciate them. Give your best friend a call and let them know how much you appreciate the support they have shown you over your break up.

Spread the love

Do something kind for someone else. When we do kind things for others, it boosts our serotonin levels, the neurotransmitters which help us to feel satisfied and content. Many anti-depressants work by increasing serotonin levels in our body – why not do the same thing simply by doing something nice for someone else?

Have an attitude of gratitude

Gratitude is a fantastic antidote to stress. Write a list of all the things in your life that you are grateful for and stick it to your fridge. Concentrate on it for 30 seconds and see how you feel. Do you notice your mood lifting? Consciously looking for the good things we have also helps to boost your feel-good hormones, and it will train your brain to start looking for the positives, even when things might seem really challenging.

Know that this too shall pass

Remind yourself that this too will pass. You will feel better, you will get through this. If this is your first Valentine’s Day on your own, know that you will never have to go through this “first” again.  Next time will always be easier.

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How cuddle therapy can help when going through a divorce

In this instalment of Stowe guests, we are joined by Rebekka Mikkola, Lead Cuddle Therapist and Founder of Nordic Cuddle. London-based Nordic Cuddle are one of the fastest growing cuddle therapy companies in the country and provide sessions to clients dealing with stress, divorce, anxiety and loneliness.

Dealing with a separation

There can be few events in our lives as emotionally taxing as the breakdown of a relationship. The bonds that were formed and lives that became intertwined have to begin a process of separation, which can take a heavy toll on our wellbeing.

The feelings of loss are compounded by the fact that separation is about more than just losing a partner. A change of home may be in order, social circles may shrink and financial security may become more precarious. On top of that, families with children have the added pressure of arranging how and when parents will spend time with them.

In addition, many people often describe a feeling of failure which accompanies a relationship breakdown. As such, our self-esteem can take a big hit and this can also affect our whole persona, not to mention our outlook on life.

How cuddle therapy can help

At Nordic Cuddle, we provide cuddle therapy sessions, which involve platonic hugs, cuddling, hand-holding and gentle arm rubs, combined with talking therapy. We’ve found that cuddle therapy has been particularly helpful for people going through a divorce, because it provides a sense of comfort and connection at a time when both of these things have been torn from our lives.

Cuddle sessions with a trained and understanding practitioner can be nurturing and help heal negative perceptions of our self-worth. This is because human touch can flood our bodies with feel-good hormones, such as serotonin and oxytocin.

The release of these chemicals can also help tackle stress, another major impact of separation. During this difficult time, our body will release increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol by activating the sympathetic nervous system (also called the ‘fight or flight’ response). As such, oxytocin levels will drop and we’ll feel more stressed and have a low mood in general.

These effects can be reversed through hugs and cuddles, which trigger the release of feel-good hormones, which help mitigate stress. Affectionate touch activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which is the body’s natural relaxed mode. Keeping stress under control is vital, because it can lead to a range of mental health and physical wellbeing issues, if left unchecked over a prolonged period of time.

When London-based Balance Magazine tried one of our cuddle therapy sessions last year, they said, “If you’re feeling imbalanced, it’s a place to go to return to calm and serenity.” We think this is a great description and believe cuddle therapy provides a holistic approach towards re-building self-confidence and tackling issues like stress, which arise during a separation.

The combination of comforting touch coupled with the opportunity to speak about personal issues can be especially powerful and can create a connection very quickly. When you try a cuddle therapy session, you’ll be in the caring hands of a trained professional and will feel a sense of calm amid the chaos, during one of life’s greatest challenges.

Get in touch

To contact Nordic Cuddle and find out more about their services, you can visit their website here.

The post How cuddle therapy can help when going through a divorce appeared first on Stowe Family Law.

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Stowe guests: Top tips on how to tell the children you are separating by Turner & Johnson Mediation

In this instalment of Stowe guests, we are joined by Sheila Turner from Turner & Johnson Mediation.

Based in central London, Sheila Turner and Philippa Johnson offer families a professional and sensitive mediation service, working alongside other professionals including legal advisers, as appropriate, to help couples to identify alternatives to going to court.

Today we are joined by Sheila as she gives some valuable advice on how to tell the children you are separating and what to say afterwards.

There is no question this is a really difficult conversation to have; you are probably dreading it. Nothing will make it ‘easy’ but here are some guidelines that should help to make it a less traumatic experience for all of you.

Most importantly tell your child together

If you have more than one child tell all the children together as an entire family – even if you want to be a million miles away from your co-parent you need to show your child that you can still present a united front. Every time you want to convey a piece of information always start the sentence, “Dad/Mum and I have discussed ************** and we both think that we should try ******”. It helps children to deal with their changing circumstances when they feel that both parents have made the decision to separate.

Discuss with your ex-partner a clear and simple narrative explaining why your relationship has broken down and stick to the agreed narrative. Too many details will only muddy the waters and can often be information overload. However, the older the child the more questions you will be asked. Try to be as honest as possible without criticising your co-parent as the child will take this criticism personally and hear it as criticism about them.

Explain that you are still both your child’s parents and that just because you will be living in two separate homes that doesn’t mean that you are not still a family. Your child’s sense of family is really important.

Keep information short and concise.

Your child will not want to hear the emotional bits around the edge. He or she will only be interested in what is happening to them. Much better to answer questions as they come up rather than bombard your child with too much information. You should expect to have many more conversations with your child over the coming months – stick to the agreed narrative whether you are together or on your own with your child.

Make sure that you say very clearly that this is a grown-up problem and not in any way the children’s responsibility. You may well feel that an honest narrative involves blame – but blame won’t help your child, who needs to love and respect both of you and if blame is flying around your child is most likely to blame him or herself.

It is OK to say that you don’t know the answer to a particular question but you will need to reassure your child that once a decision has been made WE will talk about it with you.

Let your child deal with the conversation as they want to.

Be prepared for an emotional response and acknowledge that this is a very difficult time for everyone – equally, it may be that your child closes down and doesn’t want to talk to you about their emotional response then and there. That too is OK. Take your lead from the child.

It is normal for children to want their parents to be back together. They might engineer occasions when this happens, poor behaviour at school, the school calls both parents in to discuss, mystery illness etc. The sooner you can get to a good working co-parenting relationship so that your child knows that you are working together for them, the better.

If you are considering mediation, as part of the mediation process children aged 10 and over (and sometimes younger) are invited to speak to a specially trained family mediator, to discuss how they are feeling, if anything can be done better or what might be difficult for them. With the child’s permission, the mediator will feedback to the parents the messages that their child wanted the mediator to pass on. In our experience children enjoy these meetings; many say that they liked being given the chance to explain what is important to them.

Sheila Turner
Turner & Johnson Mediation

The post Stowe guests: Top tips on how to tell the children you are separating by Turner & Johnson Mediation appeared first on Stowe Family Law.

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Author: Stowe Family Law