As we head into the final days of August, the focus tends to switch from lounging by the pool, or a windswept beach in Norfolk, back towards work, school and a nasty dose of reality.
Sadly, for some people, that dose of reality includes the realisation that their relationship has reached a point of no return. Early September along with January tend to be peak time for enquiries to our well-regarded Family Law Team.
If you are in that situation and are not quite sure what to do to move things on, or find out about possible options for you and your relationship, you can find clear advice on the family law pages of our website (https://www.rhw.co.uk/family-law/divorce/) and in the meantime we hope these tips are useful to start with:
Resist the Temptations of Self-Help
Don’t get us wrong, there are a lot of things you can do to help yourself when faced with a relationship breakdown. Talk to someone and don’t bottle up emotions. Speak to friends you trust to provide support and, as required, get some professional help to deal with stress or anxiety.
Whilst we are talking about getting some professional help, we too often see situations where someone has decided to have a ‘go’ at the divorce process themselves and have then found that trying to deal with something legally and financially complex whilst in the midst of emotional turmoil is, not surprisingly, very challenging!
Sadly, well intentioned ‘tinkering’ can add complications to the divorce process and can often alienate other parties it would be better to keep on reasonable terms with. Whilst divorce may initially look like a ‘simple’ and straightforward process that can be sorted out without specialist advice, it is not. rhw offer an initial consultation of £125.00 plus VAT where we can guide you through the process of obtaining a divorce and the steps required.
As well as financial considerations, divorce comprises of other matters – such as arrangements for your children (if any) and what will happen to joint assets (such as a family home in both your names).
Staying amicable pays dividends
Nothing risks dragging out the divorce process for longer than necessary, as when couples become entrenched in their positions, embittered or unable to make the compromises that are often required to get from the start to the end of the process as swiftly as possible. Staying on friendly terms may be easier said than done but try and avoid giving into extreme emotions. This avoids risking key legal decisions being made irrationally. If both of you try to reach a mutually acceptable settlement, you can make working towards your desired outcomes a smoother process and it may be more cost effective for you both.
If you have children, try not to discuss divorce related matters in front of them and do not use your children as bargaining chips, if this is all possible. Whilst a divorce severs most ties between you and your ex-partner, try to not let it adversely affect your wider family relationships.
The myth of the ‘quickie’ divorce
No matter what you read in the papers there is no such thing as a ‘quickie divorce’. This applies to celebrities as well as the rest of us! Like the myth of ‘common law marriage’ this false concept seems to be remarkably resilient to the actual truth on the ground! A common misconception that is continually perpetuated by the media is that a “quickie” divorce is available that will result in you being divorced in no time. This is just not the case. It can take from 6 – 8 months for a divorce to be fully completed, and if there are issues along the way and delays, it can take longer. Depending on how you both address finance issues, this can take a similar time as well. Court proceedings are dependent on the court’s timetable and they may take a while to list your case, particularly with problems caused by a backlog associated with the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns.
While the whole process does not happen overnight, it will eventually be completed. The more you both can communicate effectively and avoid disagreements, the sooner you can expect matters to be completed.
There is a common misconception that when you divorce, you will each get 50:50 of everything. This is a starting point but one that may change once everything is known and in the open. The court will consider a wide range of facts when considering how a settlement should be agreed. This can include the duration of your marriage; age of both spouses; children of the marriage and your earning capacity for your respective futures. Do not be disheartened if you do not earn as much as your spouse for whatever reason – a settlement in each divorce is wholly unique to you both and whatever you both agree.
Children are the priority
If you have children, the needs of your children will come first. Their best interests and welfare are paramount and this will have priority over all other requirements in proceedings.
On this point, child maintenance is payable regardless of whether you are divorcing or not. Child maintenance is a statutory requirement and is to be paid until your children each reach 16 or finish their full-time education. You can both agree if you would like this to be payable until your children reach tertiary education also.
Consent orders vs court proceedings
Ideally, if you can, settling through solicitor led negotiations would be the most amicable and cost-effective approach. Sometimes this may not always be possible.
If your negotiations fall through, do not lose hope. You can engage in court proceedings and have the court assist you in reaching a financial settlement. The court will refer you both to mediation if they decide this is a better option, at any point of the proceedings.
If you both can agree, without the need for court intervention, your solicitors can prepare a “consent order”, which the court would ratify on approval by a judge. This order outlines the division of assets and related matters of the marriage, which you both agree to adhere to. It also allows for both of you to have the order reconsidered at court at a later date if either of you “breach” any of the clauses. Fear not though – if you both agreed to it in the first place, there is an expectation that you will both see it through.
The various aspects of the Divorce process can look challenging and complicated. To an extent some of the process is trying and exhausting but that is why it pays to use an experienced legal team to get you from A to Z in the most effective way possible. Remember that alongside legal proceedings, you must find time for yourself and seek counselling if you need someone to talk to (rhw can help with this area). There are many support groups and events you can find in your local areas where others with similar experiences can lend an ear, listen and support you.
Remember that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. If your marriage really has reached the point of no return, remind yourself that the alternative of doing nothing is not viable or sustainable, so working towards a situation where you can get your life back on track is really the only way forward.
Contact rhw’s family law team on 01483 302000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org