How to Get Started with a Divorce
If a couple agrees that their marriage is over, obtaining a divorce is usually quite straightforward. The legal process of divorce is not complicated, but getting divorced can become complicated if you are unable to agree on practical issues. You should make every attempt to sit down together and talk about how you want to arrange the following:
Where you will both live.
You need to think about your ideal situation but also think about being fair and practical. Is it realistic (affordable) to retain the current house? The Court will review your agreement to ensure, in most cases, it meets your ‘needs’ and not your wishes, when they are sent the written agreement (Consent Order) for approval. You may need to maintain your new house and garden on your own so you might prefer a property that is affordable and low-maintenance.
Arrangements for the children
You will need to give thought to how often the children should, and will, want to spend time with the other parent. Also, practically, how much space they will need in each of your homes – where your children will sleep when they stay with the other parent; will it have/need a garden, etc.
Often the main family home cannot be retained and alternative properties must be purchased instead. The location of these properties will also be a key decision in order to minimise the distance the children are travelling and, as far as possible, staying close to their schools, existing friends, and social circles. Minimising disruption for them, while they are getting to terms with the breakdown of their family unit is extremely important. The more constants that can remain in their lives, very often the better they will cope. You will also need to agree when and how the children will divide time between each parent, bearing in mind any activities the children participate in and the inevitable weekend birthday parties/sports clubs and matches when they are little, as well as activities they will do as teenagers as they become more independent. These things can create frustrations and tensions so it is best to be clear about them from the outset.
How your joint/matrimonial finances are split
Please bear in mind that equality does not mean the same as a 50/50 split.
This can be a very difficult subject for obvious reasons, it also creates many delays in the divorce process if couples find it hard to reach agreement. If you are struggling to work out how to divide your finances fairly, a trained mediator will often be able to help. Again, the Court will be wanting to ensure your ‘needs’ are met.
The more common ground that a couple can find, the quicker the divorce should be, keeping negative and emotive aspects of divorce to a minimum. Sometimes, you will tell your solicitor your views on the arrangements and the solicitor will advise you to do things differently. It is important that you listen to professional advice but remember a reputable solicitor will always support you in reaching a settlement that is fair to both parties. If you feel unhappy with the advice you receive, you need to discuss this with them.
We work with clients who have reached agreement and need the formalities of their divorce completed and their decisions documented. We also work with clients whose relationships have broken down too far to have a discussion with their spouse.
Wherever you are on this spectrum, you can rely on us to give balanced advice that aims to create arrangements that puts the children first, but that are also designed to ensure your needs are met.
Please call us on 01608 686590, or send us an email to arrange an initial consultation with one of our solicitors, to talk you through your options.