Separation and Divorce - how to begin
The arrival of the New Year can bring into focus a commitment to bring about change, especially for those in an unhappy relationship. It may be that you, or someone you know is considering separation and divorce/civil partnership dissolution, but just doesn’t know where to start.
Whatever the circumstances, initiating separation and divorce/dissolution can be daunting. But with the right support and guidance, matters can be resolved amicably and cost-effectively. A divorce doesn’t have to cost the earth, and it may be possible to resolve the issues arising from separation more easily than you think.
If you are thinking of separating or getting a divorce, here are some important points that might be useful.
1. You can seek advice from a solicitor confidentially before or after informing your spouse/partner you wish to separate. In the majority of cases, we advise obtaining independent legal advice to ensure protecting your position.
2. You need to have been married or in a civil partnership for at least one year before you can apply for a divorce/dissolution of your marriage.
3. There is only one ground for a divorce/dissolution, that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
4. You can apply for divorce/dissolution via an online court portal. The application fee is £593.
5. The divorce/dissolution process generally takes between 6-12 months, or longer if you and your partner cannot reach an agreement on financial matters.
6. There are two main orders made in a divorce/dissolution. The conditional order (formerly the Decree Nisi), which is the court stating that it does not see any reason why there should not be a divorce. Secondly, the final order (formerly the Decree Absolute) which ends the marriage/civil partnership.
7. Because parties are married (or civil partners), upon divorce or dissolution, they have financial claims against each other’s income, capital and pension provision.
8. The financial claims referred to in 7. above are not automatically brought to an end when the Final Order of divorce is made. Therefore, it is very important in almost all cases, that you ensure that you obtain a court order setting out a financial settlement, providing for those claims to be brought to an end following implementation of the settlement’s terms.
9. A financial order can be obtained from the court by consent if matters are agreed upon and can be negotiated in many ways including in family mediation or through solicitors. A court application can be made if necessary and ultimately, if matters cannot be agreed in the course of those proceedings, the court can determine the outcome. This can include the division of the matrimonial assets, whether any spousal maintenance should be paid, and whether there should be a provision providing for pension sharing.
10. In the absence of a final financial order (whether made by consent or imposed by the court), you may be at risk of your ex-partner pursuing their financial claims against you in the future even though you are divorced.
Geldards’ Family Team can help you at any point during the process however we strongly recommend early legal advice to ensure your interests are protected and the best outcome is achieved.
If you would like more information or legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Geldards Family Team.