As to whether it is appropriate to do all this without using a solicitor, the answer is probably not. Once you have reached an agreement between yourselves (easier said than done) over finances and contact, then BOTH of you should seek independant legal advice to ensure that what has been agreed is fair and reasonable.
One good way of doing this is through mediation - read this thread all the way through:
In choosing a solicitor, go for one who is a member of Resolution - ( www.resolution.org.uk/
) - they specialise in a more collaborative approach, rather than adversarial. You don't want to waste your hard earned money on expensive and pointless litigation that just makes your solicitor more money.
No one on this board is having a laugh when they say it is better to go to mediation than a solicitor. If at all possible please try to convince your xtb that financial mediation is a wise first step.
Even if you cannot agree amicably you should at least be able to narrow the issues and whatever you do manage to agree will be one less thing dealt with by solicitors and therefore less cost overall.
Talk, talk, talk to each other for as long as you can both stomach it. The alternative is to lose £1000s of pounds from the joint pot paid to solicitors to argue for you - what a waste. Please believe me, I know!
Thank you all so much. Some times i feel like i am existing in a dream and that this is not happening. But it is. And i need to be strong.
Your advice is very encouraging and give me something to focus on. Talking is not so easy at the moment. i really hurt deep inside everytime i see him. What makes it worse is that he has decided to remain in the house until the divorce goes through, and i am told because we have a joint mortgage that there is nothing that i can do about it.
So i have to live with this ache in my heart and the hole i my soul for another six months...please tell me it will get easier
Look at your current situation as being at start of a mountain climb. There will be very hard bits, there will be easier bits. It is all uphill. But gradually you start to see a broader horizon. Eventually you get to the top. It takes a different time for everyone to come to terms with the loss of their marriage and relationship. Sixteen years is a very long time, and to see it disappear in an instant seems so unfair, so wrong. It is like a breavement, and you must mourn it's passing. Yes there will be tears, anger, frustation, jealousy, hatred, regret, sadness, resentment and many more emotions. And you will feel that there is no 'light at the end of the tunnel'. But day by day, you do get a little stronger, more confident, have the occasional really good day. Then the good days get more than the bad days. But it all takes time. You have put so much of yourself into the relationship and the hard part is finding the real 'you' again. The you that can laugh spontaneously. The you that does things for herself. But you also have to balance that against living with your soon to be ex and your child for a period of time. That is NOT easy. But you WILL find the strength.
The best advice I can think of is to try to detach yourself from him emotionally. Don't include him in your thoughts and plans for the day. Think about yourself and your child. Be nice to yourself. You ARE worth it. Live life day by day and try not to think too far ahead. Just get used to the emotional swings and roundabouts for now. And keep posting here - it isfabulous to find others who know exactly how miserable you are feeling and will help to lift you. Try the chat room. Gets a bit silly, but join in - it is a great escape when the children have gone to bed. Above all, take care of yourself. You have a lot of new friends here who know exactly where you are at.