Things to Think About if You Are Getting a Divorce
While divorce can cause a great deal of emotional turmoil, there can also be a serious impact on your livelihood if the process is not managed correctly. You must be aware of your legal rights to ensure that you are financially protected going forward.
Here, I look at some of the principles my you should consider if you are thinking about a divorce.
Consider all your options
Going to court to achieve a settlement is not the only option open to divorcing couples. Doing this can result in permanent damage to your relationships – remember, just because you and your spouse are getting divorced does not mean that you will never have to communicate with each again. If you have children, you will have to make arrangements to allow both parents to spend time with them. Going to court can also be expensive.
Other options open to you include:
- Agreeing on a settlement yourselves
- Using family mediation
- Instructing a solicitor to negotiate on your behalf
Address the big issues
Whether you work out the arrangements of your divorce yourselves or in court, there are important aspects, including child arrangements, money and property, that you will have to reach an agreement on.
These issues include:
- Where your children will live
- How your children will be supported
- Where you and your ex-spouse will live
- How you will support yourself
- How your savings, pensions and debts will be shared
Understand the divorce process
The media coverage of high-profile divorces can give a false impression of how the divorce process works. There are some crucial points you should remember:
- You do not have to go to court to get a divorce. If you can reach an agreement with your spouse on the significant issues, this can all happen on paper.
- The law is not biased – it does not favour women over men or vice versa. Either spouse can be ordered to pay maintenance if the other has been dependent on them during the marriage. Men are still more likely to pay maintenance because they typically earn more than women.
- There is no formula for working out who gets what in a divorce. If you and your ex-partner cannot reach an agreement amicably, the court will look at the specific circumstances involved and will take account of various factors, including the financial needs of each spouse in the foreseeable future and the standard of living enjoyed by the family.
- You cannot apply jointly for divorce – one spouse must divorce the other. Who applies for the divorce will not affect how assets are divided or what arrangements will be put in place for your children.
- You will not be rewarded for good behaviour or punished for bad behaviour. While “past behaviour” is one of the criteria in determining how assets will be divided, in practical terms behaviour will only be relevant if it is particularly serious or of one of the spouses has been dishonest, for example by hiding money or assets from the court.
- You must have been married for a year before you can apply for a divorce. The process will usually take around six months, although if you are unable to reach agreement on the important issues, it can take much longer.
Ensure any agreement you reach is enforceable
When you have reached an agreement concerning your children, property and finances, you should make sure this is written down. If you have employed the services of a mediator to help you reach an agreement, they will record the details of the deal in a Memorandum of Understanding – a written agreement signed by both parties.
You and your spouse should seek independent legal advice as part of the negotiation process or after an agreement is reached. While a mediator can facilitate discussions between you and your ex-partner on the crucial issues, they must remain impartial and so cannot advise you on whether the agreement is sensible for you.
Your solicitor will check the agreement for you and ensure that it is practical and fair. They will likely advise you that the agreement should be turned into a court order to make it legally binding.
Contact Lindsay Jones Specialist Divorce Lawyer Cheshire, Manchester, Altrincham, Lymm, Knutsford & Wilmslow
For clear, strategic advice on a comprehensive range of legal matters following a divorce, call Lindsay Jones on 0161 509 6662 or complete the online enquiry form.