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I went through a trainwreck divorce - here's what I learned

My disastrous experience in divorce sent my life in a new and fulfilling direction, says Kate Daly

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Back in 2012, I went through a trainwreck divorce after my marriage completely broke down. It was awful – the costs spiralled out of control and it cost me £80,000 in legal fees. I was left emotionally and financially devastated.

The divorce could be described as two sides at war in a fight to the death. After a lengthy two-year divorce battle, we both lost and damaged our family in the process. This is something we still bear the scars of.

I went through absolute hell. I’d spend the whole weekend wondering where I’d get the money from to pay the solicitor’s bill that was delivered every Friday. At the time, I thought that legal help was essential because I had given up my job to look after our children while my ex-husband was a high earner in advertising.

Woman smiling in a headshot© Greg Woodward photo
Kate Daly's experience of divorce set her on a new path

We argued through solicitors for two years over how to split our finances and deal with childcare, eventually going to a family court, where a judge had to decide for us.

Much like the Netflix film ‘The Marriage Story’, which received widespread acclaim for its depiction of divorce, we were drawn into conflicts because each lawyer wanted the best result for their client. My solicitors even advised me not to get a job because then I’d be demonstrating that I could earn an income — when the focus was getting me some sort of maintenance from their perspective.

After this awful experience, I came out licking my wounds. But as I started to talk to other people, I realised it wasn’t just me who had come out of divorce in a worse state – lots of people had.

I began to wonder whether the system and the process we’d been through had made its own contribution to the toxic outcome we found ourselves in.

Unhappy Couple After an Argument in the Living Room at Home. Sad Pensive Young Girl Thinking of Relationships Problems Sitting on Sofa With Offended Boyfriend, Conflicts in Marriage, Upset Couple After Fight Dispute, Making Decision of Breaking Up Get Divorced© Getty
Divorce is a difficult time

A divorce is often referred to as the second most traumatic life experience after the death of a loved one. Too many families emerge from divorce damaged and scarred. But while divorce is ultimately a sad thing, it doesn't have to be a bad thing. People shouldn’t be punished for coming to, what no doubt is, a really difficult decision.

After months of reflecting on my own traumatic experience, I became passionate about rewriting the narrative around divorce, separation and co-parenting.

READ: How my husband and I navigated the minefield of menopause 

Changing the narrative

I decided to quit my job as a counsellor and after a year of hard work and dedication, I set up amicable, a couples divorce service that helps people divorce in a kinder and more affordable way, prioritising their children.

A new approach

The most rewarding part of my job is talking to people in need at the start of their divorce journey. I can feel a connection to them, and while we can’t take the pain away, I do passionately believe that we can reduce the fear, stress and confusion around divorce and separation.

Sad and depressed woman lying on sofa at home.© Getty
Divorce can be draining

Closing the chapter

Since launching the company in 2015 with my co-founder Pip Wilson, we have helped over 10,000 people untie the knot, amicably.

INSPIRATION: I changed my entire life at 54 – here's what happened

A father of three children once told me that our service helped him close a chapter in his life and open new possibilities for their future, all while prioritising their children and finding closure.

I’m so proud that my own disastrous experience in divorce has helped transform the end of relationships - one that is much kinder and focuses on the people involved. amicable has shown me that you can come back from anything and that, just like the cliché, sometimes it makes you stronger!

Kate Daly is co-founder of amicable, the couples divorce service, and host of The Divorce Podcast.

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