Ten Top Tips for Divorce: What Should You Do First?

Ten Top Tips for Divorce

The holidays can sound the death knell for a relationship. But what should you do first? Here are Ten Top Tips for Divorce.

1. Consult

Arrange an initial consultation with an experienced family law solicitor. This can be low cost or even no cost, and can set you off in the right direction.

2. Talk

Try to talk to each other about arrangements for the children and finances. Talking, however painful it might be, could help you reach a less stressful, quicker, less expensive solution.

3. Avoid Court

Try to avoid Court proceedings about the children and finances. See my blog How to avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law and Arbitration.

4. Ground rules

If you’re still under the same roof and able to communicate, try to agree some ground rules:

  • sleeping and eating arrangements
  • payment of bills, the mortgage
  • care of children
  • how soon can one of you move out? This will lessen the strain for each of you and for the children

5. Can’t talk?

Under the same roof but you can’t communicate? Probably a good time to consult a family solicitor.

6. Domestic abuse

Has there been violence or any other form of domestic abuse? Take legal advice ASAP.

7. What comes first, divorce or finances

I’ve written a blog answering this question: What Comes First, Divorce or Settlement.

8. Start divorce proceedings

This makes a mark in the sand for those who are finding it difficult to accept the relationship is over. It can also kick off discussions about finances. But in order to keep matters as amicable as possible try to agree who is going to start the divorce. Even better, agree what the reasons for divorce are. See my blog Grounds for Divorce – 5 things you need to know. 

9. Financial disclosure

Disclose your financial information, there’s really no way around this. See my blog, Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things you need to know.

10. Alternatives

Can’t agree about the children or the finances? Sometimes Court Proceedings are the only answer. But please make sure you’ve tried one of these alternative approaches first:

Ten Top Tips for Divorce

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Ten Top Tips for Divorce. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Ten Top Tips for Divorce are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Ten Top Tips for Divorce Unhappy Couple by Skedonk on Wikimedia

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How to File for Divorce in the UK

How to File for Divorce in the UK

How to File for Divorce in the UK …

The bad news is your marriage or civil partnership is over. But the good news is it’s now a lot simpler to get divorced thanks to the online system. I’m going to explain what you need to look out for and what it all means.

There’s rarely any need to attend Court and the whole process takes only four to six months but this doesn’t include the finances and and it’s often wise to delay finalising the divorce until they’re sorted out.

But if you would rather a lawyer do the divorce for you make sure you chose one who is committed to a non confrontational approach to family problems, such as Just Family Law’s Joanne Houston.

How a divorce starts …

One of you fills in a divorce petition (the petitioner) and the Court serves it on the other (the respondent).

What a divorce does …

It ends a marriage or a civil partnership but it doesn’t sort out the finances or the arrangements for the children.

Take the bull by the horns …

Did you know that divorce, finances and the arrangements for the children can all be addressed at the same time? See my blog What comes first, divorce or settlement?

If you can’t agree between yourselves you have the following options:

  • Help from a lawyer
  • Start Court proceedings yourself
  • Mediation
  • Collaborative law

Collaborative law is an opportunity to build a positive future for you and your family. See my recent blog What is collaborative law?

What’s needed to start a divorce …

  • Marriage certificate
  • Court fee of £550 unless you’re eligible to exemption from fees
  • The respondent’s address

Here’s a link to an application form to help with Court fees

How to fill in the divorce petition …

The online divorce service is on the GOV.UK site, here’s a link

It’s straightforward to fill in but there are some tricky questions. For example if you weren’t born in either England or Wales or if you live in another country. Or if you don’t know the respondent’s address. There are notes to help you but don’t forget to get expert help if you’re not sure. Lawyers often provide fixed cost advice for this kind of service.

The grounds for divorce …

The most popular is unreasonable behaviour. The least contentious is two year’s separation with consent. See my blog, Grounds for divorce – 5 things you need to know

Financial claims …

The form asks, “Do you want to apply for a financial order?” To be on the safe side tick Yes as the Court will take no action but it will leave it open for the future. Don’t risk missing out on pensions or the business or being left with debts that aren’t yours. And a Consent Order recording your financial settlement is essential to protect you.

Don’t forget to get expert help if you’re not sure. Lawyers often provide fixed cost advice for this kind of service.

Costs …

How to answer, “Costs – if you wish to claim costs from the respondent.” There are a number of things to bear in mind:

  • the expense of the Court fee to start a divorce which is currently £550
  • the availability of exemption from fees (see above “What’s needed to start a divorce”)
  • whether the respondent can afford to pay a costs order
  • the likelihood of the Court making a costs order

If you aren’t eligible to exemption from fees, and the respondent can afford to pay a costs order, see if the respondent will agree to pay or at least contribute.

Risks …

The respondent defends the petition. See my blog No fault divorce, your questions answered about the Owens case and the risk of the respondent defending an unreasonable behaviour petition.

What happens next …

The Court serves your divorce petition on the respondent and they acknowledge service of it, which means they fill in a form saying they’ve received the petition. Once you receive the acknowledgment of service from the Court you can fill in a statement in support.

Next the Court will set a date for the pronouncement of the decree nisi. You don’t have to attend Court for this.

The decree nisi …

Your marriage isn’t over yet but it’s an important stage if you are sorting out financial matters as a Consent Order recording your settlement can now be sealed by the Court.

Six weeks and one day after the pronouncement of the decree nisi the petitioner can apply for the decree absolute. But there are pros and cons. Should you wait until you have obtained a Court order confirming the financial arrangements between you? See my blog Quick divorce or safe divorce? How to protect your financial settlement

The decree absolute …

  • You are no longer married
  • You can remarry or enter a civil partnership
  • Your consent order about the finances comes into force

How to File for Divorce in the UK

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How to File for Divorce in the UK. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs. 

The topics covered in this blog post How to File for Divorce in the UK are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image Cat looks at the Wikimedia Commons main page by Freddy2001 on Wikimedia 

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No Fault Divorce – Your Questions Answered

No Fault DivorceWhy is no fault divorce in the news?

The Government is considering no fault divorce because our current system isn’t working well. If you want to divorce you have to rely on a reason:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Desertion
  • Five years separation without consent

Unsure which reason to rely on? See my blog Grounds for divorce – 5 things you need to know

Why has the Government decided to look at no fault divorce?

Resolution (an organisation committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes) has been lobbying for no fault divorce for years. And the case of Owens v Owens has been in the news.

What is Owens v Owens about?

Mrs Owens wants to divorce her husband. She gave twenty seven examples of his unreasonable behaviour: he is moody, argumentative and disparaging. But he defended the divorce saying the marriage wasn’t over, and he disputed the behaviour his wife had mentioned.

The Judge disagreed with Mr Owens – the marriage was clearly over – but he said the examples of behaviour were flimsy and exaggerated and Mrs Owens could not have her divorce. This meant she would have to stay married to Mr Owens. She appealed.

What happened when Mrs Owens appealed?

On 25 July 2018 the Supreme Court said the Judge was right when he said her reasons weren’t good enough. But the Supreme Court also said it felt “uneasy” and that “Parliament may wish to consider whether to replace a law which denies to Mrs Owens … a divorce”.

What’s the solution for Mrs Owens?

She will have to stay married to Mr Owens until they have lived apart for five years.

What is the Government doing? 

The Ministry of Justice has published a consultation paper, Reform of the legal requirements for divorce. They are asking whether divorce should simply be on the ground of irretrievable breakdown with no need to mention reasons. And whether the ability to ‘defend’ a divorce should end. The consultation closes 10 December.

Why is no fault divorce a good idea?

  • Angry spouses won’t be able to block divorces
  • People won’t have to stay married when they don’t want to
  • There will be less conflict
  • Couples will be able to concentrate on what is best for the children
  • They will be more likely to reach an amicable agreement about the finances, by negotiation, mediation or collaborative law
  • Our current divorce system dates to 1969. We live in a very different society and women are seen as equal partners in a marriage
  • Legal bills will be lower
  • There will be fewer contested divorces. Our Courts are stretched and so this might make everything a bit better for all of us

Is no fault divorce going to make more people divorce?

The breakdown of a relationship is hard enough as it is without the Court procedure adding to the difficulties. And in reality couples often agree how to word their divorces. “I’ll admit to adultery,” or “You can mention that unreasonable behaviour.”

Why is divorce an important stage in agreeing the finances? 

A Court order finalising the finances is only available once the first divorce decree has been granted (the “decree nisi”). Hence it’s a good idea to sort out the divorce and the finances at the same time. See my blog What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement

Can I do the divorce myself? 

Yes. But if you are struggling read my blog 10 reasons why you need a family law solicitor to check your DIY divorce petition

No Fault Divorce

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on any of the issues raised in this blog. In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families. Visit our website just-family-law.com The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

image Couple by Muramasa on Wikimedia

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Grey Divorce? Making the Best of Life

Retirement is on the horizon or has already arrived. The children are, or will shortly be, independent. Now is the time to make the best of life but couples can find they have grown apart, or that they cannot progress together beyond their roles as parents. Is it time for a ‘Grey Divorce’?

Nowadays there is no stigma attached to divorce, whatever your age. And with dating apps and a burgeoning population of single, older people, there’s less chance of being lonely.

Divorce always involves lots of decisions and emotions, some of which are hard. You can get all the advice in the world but there will still be surprises. So make sure you give a bit of thought to these points.

Punch & Judy or keep it amicable? …

The answer is, of course, to try to keep it amicable. If possible agree the financial aspects by negotiation, collaborative law or mediation

And as for the divorce proceedings, with the Government consulting on ‘no fault’ divorce, things are set to become easier. But for now you need to think whether you want to start proceedings yourself or whether you need a fixed fee quote from an expert family law solicitor.

What are the grounds for your divorce? See my blog, Grounds for Divorce, 5 Things You Need To Know.

Family home or pension …

You might have lived there for decades, perhaps you brought up your children there. But don’t fall into the trap of keeping the family home rather than receiving a realistic share of the pension pot. You could face an old age of financial insecurity whilst your ex is sitting pretty.

Pensions especially final salary policies can be worth a great deal more than the family home. You might plan to realise cash from the family home when you need it in the future but this is likely to represent only a tiny fraction of the capital required to provide you with a pension.

Pensions may be shared, or offset against other assets, or maintenance may be paid to equalise income. See my blog, Pensions on Divorce, What Can You Expect? for answers to the following:

  • How are pensions valued?
  • Do you need an actuary?
  • What is your entitlement to state pension?
  • How to keep your pension out of the divorce
  • What is a pension sharing order?
  • What is offsetting?
  • Can you claim your ex’s state pension?

Investments, savings and inheritances …

Through the course of your life you may have accumulated significant assets. How can you protect them in your divorce? See my blog, Ring Fence and Protect Assets on Divorce.

Grey divorce: is maintenance the answer? …

Special considerations apply in older divorces. Earning capacity might be limited because of age or illness, and this might suggest long term maintenance is required. Or one or both of you may have reached retirement age and pensions may be in payment.

See my blog, Maintenance and Clean Break On Divorce. This explains entitlement to maintenance, and the many different forms it can take.

Your new relationship …

Protect your assets and peace of mind by entering into a cohabitation agreement or a prenuptial agreement. This doesn’t mean you don’t love and trust each other. It simply demonstrates you’re not together for the money.

See my earlier blog, How to Protect Your Assets with a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement

How about the children? …

If you are remarrying or buying a property with a new partner you need to give careful consideration to how your estate is to be distributed in the event of your death. To what extent do you want your new partner to benefit as opposed to your children? Avoiding the issue could leave your loved ones with a dispute or possibly even a court case under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act.

Get advice from an expert solicitor and make a will. This is also a good opportunity to safeguard your future with a Lasting Power of Attorney.

Grey divorce? Making the best of life …

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on Grey Divorce. In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

See my blog about how to get the best financial settlement on divorce.

Did you know there are different rules for Short Marriages?


JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families. Visit our website just-family-law.com The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

image Old Couple In Love by Ian MacKenzie on Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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What comes first divorce or settlement?

What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement

What comes first divorce or settlement

The answer is they should be going on at the same time. But it’s often wise to delay finalising the divorce until the finances have been sorted out. Why? Because if your other half dies after the divorce but before you have a Court order confirming the financial settlement, you could lose out as their widow or widower. And you could miss out on a fair share of their pension. Is this something that particularly concerns you? Get in touch with an expert family lawyer.

How much will the divorce cost

The Court fee is £550.

Need help with the Court forms? A “pay as you go” deal is the answer. This means you ask a solicitor for advice when needed, and limit the expense. But if you hand your divorce over to a solicitor, make sure you know how much they’re going to charge. Can you do the divorce yourself? See below.

What are the grounds for divorce

“Irretrievable breakdown” – and you have to rely on one of five reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Five years separation without consent

Unsure which to go for? For more details see my blog Grounds for Divorce – 5 things you need to know.

Can I do the divorce myself, or do I need a solicitor

Yes you can do it yourself.

But don’t be afraid to ask for help to avoid mistakes being made on the papers (and the Court sending them back). See my blog 10 Reasons why you need a family law solicitor to check your DIY divorce petitionA common problem is service, or forgetting to tick an important box, or failing to grapple with legal definitions of residence – a complication if you’re an international family.

A solicitor can also help if your other half is not acknowledging the proceedings.

How long does it take

Usually about four months but there can be pitfalls – see above.

How is the divorce settlement worked out

The starting point is equal division. But various factors are taken into account including:

  • The children’s welfare
  • Income and earning capacity
  • Financial needs
  • Standard of living
  • Your ages, and length of the marriage
  • Physical or mental disabilities
  • Contributions to the marriage

It’s an idea to ask an experienced family law solicitor for advice if there are:

Do I have to disclose my finances

See my blog Financial disclosure on divorce – 10 things you need to know.

Do I need a consent order

It’s a good idea. Because if one of you changes your mind, or if one of you comes into money, there’s no going back for a second bite of the cherry. And it’s relatively simple for a solicitor to draw one up. See my blog How do I get a consent order?

What comes first divorce or settlement

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for advice about What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement? In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.


JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

 

image for What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement? Sad Lucy by Tim Dawson on Wikimedia Commons

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