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Divorce Coach Kate Daly on the effect of lockdown, the ‘danger age’ and who gets the dog


Lockdown has led to a surge in separations (Picture: Getty Images)

What’s it actually like to get a divorce these days?

Divorce Coach Kate Daly knows all the details.

We spoke to the founder of Amicable, 50, on why couples decide to call it a day, how to stay friends, why lockdown is sending separations soaring…

So to get this straight – you help couples divorce and stay friends?

I spent £80,000 on legal fees during my own train wreck of a divorce in 2012. It was awful – the costs spiralled out of control, I was left emotionally devastated and financially devastated and so much money went to lawyers.

You end up in a smaller house in a worse street because you spent so much money in legal fees. It impacts the whole family too, because the money wasted is the equivalent of a spare room, or living in a better catchment area for schools. So after my own really 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’d come out of the situation in a worse state – lots of people had. So I decided to help couples split ‘amicably,’ without playing the blame game .

As a relationship psychologist I wanted to help people uncouple or co-parent while staying civil. As a society see divorce as a legal and financial process but the biggest bit is the emotional turmoil and upset.

Kate Daly’s own disastrous divorce inspired her to set up Amicable (Picture: Amicable.io)

What was the idea behind your company?

So we offer a full online divorce, separation and co-parenting service, we help with all the divorce paperwork, we draft and write all the legal orders, then help with the emotional journey.

Uniquely we are allowed to work with couples – which solicitors aren’t allowed to do. We help them negotiate the divorce, agree financial and childcare arrangements and let them know all the options open to them.

We are allowed to see couples together to talk it through – instead of two warring sets of solicitors.

Is divorce bigger business now?

We are living longer and the idea you can stay married for 60 odd years as our life expectancy increases is now outmoded.

We have to accept we have multiple long term relationships and we need to be better at ending them and maintaining positive relationships and keeping communication going.

So what difference has lockdown made to divorces?

We’ve seen a massive rise in enquiries – a 200 per cent increase from July 2019 to July 2020 and a 30 per cent increase in actual customers so lockdown sadly has had a detrimental effect.

So, we saw an initial surge of people when the first lockdown was announced and that represented people who had already agreed they should separate. Once they weren’t going to work, they had time on their hands to deal with the physical act of separation.

But then, after that first wave, there was another surge in summer. These were generally couples whose relationship had already been under pressure, but then lockdown was the final straw. Being cooped up together or facing financial hardship just tipped people over the edge.

On the other hand, people might just think ‘Life’s too short to be unhappy.’ They might just realise they want to walk away, to seek independence or find love elsewhere.

A bad divorce can be extremely expensive (Picture: Peter Dazeley/ Getty Images)

What’s the danger age for divorce?

Well, there’s not one danger age, but the most common age for divorce is 44 for a woman and 45 for a man, and the average marriage length is 12.3 years.

What’s the busiest time of year for divorce?

There’s supposedly a peak on the first Monday of a full back to work week in January, and we do see a big increase in people asking about divorce.

The other peak is in September, and both follow times where people have been spending lots of time together – either Christmas or the summer holidays.

This, combined with high expectations – you find your Christmas lights don’t look the way you wanted or going away on your summer holiday didn’t seem to cure any of your problems – helps cause those peaks.

So what’s your advice to anyone out there who feel they’ve had enough over Christmas?

I’d say sit down and agree together that you don’t want to retreat into two separate corners. Make a commitment to each other to do things amicably. ‘I feel hurt and angry at the moment I’m not sure how to do this but I don’t want us to end up with two separate warring lawyers.’

Make that joint commitment. Second thing is go and get your emotional preparation sorted. When you enter the divorce process, one person is usually slightly ahead on the grief curve or change curve.

It’s very unlikely that both people are at the same stage – if one person has had an affair, for example, they’re often chomping at the bit to get this sorted and done, while the other person is feeling hurt and rejected. So see a divorce coach or a counsellor – as a couple or individual – to help you get emotionally prepared for what is ahead.

Is it possible to be friends after divorce?

One couple went on to meet new partners, and start new families. When they divorced, they decided to keep their holiday house together, instead of liquidate that asset and split it.

This mean they can both use their holiday home with their new families – and now they actually have joint holidays with their two blended families.

Some parents with very young children do nesting. They keep the family home, so their child has their own bedroom, and the parents rotate in and out of the home which remains that child’s home.

The parents simply take it in turns, splitting the week there. Often, they find another smaller property they live in half the time – and couples are happy to share that too.

Custody over pets can lead to stick situations (Picture: Getty Images)

What happens to pets after a divorce?

We have dog custody cases in the same way we have couples rowing over children, so we have schedules for when the dog spends time with each partner, and the dog will have an arrangements order.

We’ve helped one couple smooth out a grievance about vet bills, and another couple who live a long way apart have agreed on a deal where the dog lives mainly with one but has dog holidays with the other.

One couple had a rescue dog who suffered terrible separation anxiety if it left the family home. So the divorcing couple decided it was easier for the other person to come and move in with the dog when the ex-partner goes on holiday. So one moves out, the other moves in and the dog is perfectly happy.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to be a divorce coach?

Some people here are lawyers who are fed up with working in an adversarial system, who want to work with couples, and use their legal skills and knowledge combined with empathy.

They give up their practice certificate to become a divorce coach instead. Others, like me, have psychology degrees and training as counsellors.



Being a divorce coach

  • Top tip: You need to be able to walk in someone else’s shoes and have empathy with your clients. Empathy is what sets a Divorce Coach apart.
  • Regular hours: The job demands 37 hours a week – but we’re online, so those working hours are flexible.
  • Salary: Trainee divorce coaches start at £21,500.
  • Short and sweet advice: Be yourself and be human.


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