Knowledge Hub | Articles

07 March 2017

What to expect when you decide to divorce

The first few months of the year can bring significant change for a lot of people. Some might decide that they want to change jobs, move house, travel more or perhaps embark on a new hobby. For others, their thoughts may be of more life changing things and after deciding that their marriage is no longer working, a move towards divorce and separation may become likely. Family partner Sue Andrews advises on what can happen when you contact a specialist divorce lawyer, and provides reassurance to those thinking about taking such a step. 

At a first meeting the solicitor will obtain factual information such as length of your relationship, details about your children, your income and other resources. They can only assess the situation realistically, if you are completely honest from the outset. If you hold something back it could delay resolution and hike up legal fees.

Your solicitor should also take time to find out about your anxieties and goals as well as what has brought you to your decision.  This will establish whether the marriage has broken down irretrievably and if divorce is what you really want. 

On the basis of that information your lawyer should be able to advise you about the way forward and likely outcome, applying relevant legislation, judicial precedents and guidance to your circumstances.  Good judgement, empathy and the ability to think strategically and ‘fight your corner’, are the key attributes of a good divorce lawyer.

Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may suggest counselling. It can help a couple identify whether the difficulties in the marriage are irreparable or not.  Communication is key so even if the final decision is to end the marriage it is more likely to mean that the "formal bits" can be dealt with amicably. 

The costs of undefended divorce proceedings up to obtaining decree absolute are likely to be in the region of £1,000 to £2,000 plus VAT and fees to the court of currently £550.  This does not include dealing with financial matters, the costs of which will depend on a number of factors including whether you are able to agree matters at an early stage and whether separate court proceedings are necessary. If the resolution involves going to court involving a number of hearings, possibly also with experts, then your costs will be high and will reflect the complexity of the issues and the work that needs to be done.  This could be avoided through a negotiated settlement where you and your spouse are in control.

Telling children about your decision to separate is never going to be easy but try to tell them together and reassure them that although they may not see both of you each day, they will continue to have a relationship with you both. 

It is often thought that mothers have an automatic right to have the children live with them, however that is not correct.  Both parents have equal status, however this should not be about either of you but about the children and their right to have a relationship with you both.  Circumstances such as where the parents work and live or the flexibility of each parent will of course come into play, but your aim should be to achieve a fair agreement and one that works for your children.

If a child wants to stay with a particular parent and is able to make rational and informed decisions, then those feelings will be taken into account.  The older the child is, the greater emphasis their views will be given, and if they are 15 years or over it is extremely unlikely that if there was a dispute, a court would make a decision against their wishes unless, of course, it is very clearly not in their best interests.

Sue concludes: “The divorce process doesn’t have to be stressful. If both partners receive realistic and pragmatic advice from their lawyers and can talk honestly with each other, a satisfactory settlement could be achieved, giving people the chance to move on with their lives.”

To speak with Sue, call 01753 279046 or email familylaw@bpcollins.co.uk.

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Phone: +44 (0) 1753 889995

Email: enquiries@bpcollins.co.uk

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