Divorce and separation can be difficult. There can be a lot of misconceptions around divorce which can add to the already stressful situation. What should you do if you are thinking about getting divorced or you have found out that your partner wants a divorce?
The grief of divorce can be similar to that of losing someone. When going through a divorce, you are expected to carry on with your life and normal day-to-day activities such as going to work and looking after the children. You will need support and usually someone to talk to whether that be a family member, your friend or maybe a professional such as a therapist or divorce coach.
Obtaining a divorce is a big decision and often important decisions, which need time to be thought through, such as where will you or the children live, who will stay in the family home or even who will keep the dog, will need to be made. When having to make these life changing decisions it will make things easier in the future if you are able to think rationally rather than emotionally. Having support can help you to focus when it comes to making these decisions.
Whilst there are lots of helpful resources available online, there is also a lot of information which is not helpful. It is important when getting advice you make sure you get advice from a legal specialist. No two cases are the same and whilst your friend may have gone through a divorce and can provide you with good support, it is unlikely that they are going to be able to advise you (unless of course they are a family solicitor themselves).
At Pinney Talfourd, we offer free half hour appointments to provide you with legal advice at the very start. You will be able to discuss your case and circumstances with a specialist solicitor who can then advice you on your options. It is important that you have a solicitor who listens to you and your objectives but also someone who is looking after your best interests.
Coverage of celebrity divorces within the news and popular TV shows give fictitious misconceptions about how divorce works. Many people assume that they will need to attend court hearings and that they will need to deal with issues of arrangements for the children and division of the matrimonial assets in one go. This is not the case, divorce, children and finances are really three separate processes. For most, court is a last resort as it is only rarely that there will be a court hearing in respect of the divorce and often agreements in respect of the finances and children can be reached outside of court.
An application will need to be made to the Court, after a 20-week reflective period, the court will grant a Conditional Order, following which an application can be made after six weeks for the Final Order.
Although dealt with concurrently to divorce proceedings, finances are dealt with separately and under a separate application. If you have divorced your partner this does not automatically mean that your finances have been dealt with. It is necessary for there to be a court order in place setting out what is to happen to the assets such as the family home. You can start having discussions with your partner as soon as you separate, however, you can only make an application to the court to deal with finances once the divorce application has been issued. If you are able to reach an agreement with your partner without needing to apply to court then you can lodge any agreement at court, for a Judge to approve and make the financial order, after the pronouncement of the conditional order. Without a financial order in place dismissing any future claims, your partner may be able to make a financial claim against you in the future. It is important therefore that the finances are dealt with at the same time as the divorce.
Arrangements for children can be agreed at any time. Similarly, an application to the court for proceedings can be made at any time before, during or after divorce proceedings.
It is important to consider timescales and how long the process can take. The current “no fault” divorce procedure takes at least six months (and often much longer) to finalise. If finances are involved this can lengthen the time it takes to conclude matters.
The Family department at Pinney Talfourd offer a free half-hour appointments for general legal advice to clients who are considering Divorce. For more information, please get in touch on 01708 229 444.
The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Jade Mercer, Solicitor in the Family team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of January 2024.