How to get the divorce process started

1. Protecting your position

Before the divorce process can get underway our priority will be to protect your position by making sure your spouse does not dispose of or hide assets and avoiding setting any precedents that could reduce the amount of the settlement you ultimately receive. You should also think carefully before leaving the family home as this could make it more difficult to say that it should be sold or transferred to you in the longer term. If your spouse has moved out and you are left with the house and the children we will make sure you have enough money to pay your bills.

2. Decide on the grounds for divorce

For a divorce to be granted you need to be able to demonstrate that your marriage has irretrievably broken down by giving one of five reasons. Three of these only apply if you have been separated for more than two years. Otherwise, the options are adultery (which can be difficult to prove) and unreasonable behaviour.  I find that the vast majority of people opt for unreasonable behaviour. The behaviour does not have to be extreme. Moves are being made to introduce “no fault” divorce where one person does not have to blame the other for the breakdown of the marriage but until that point couples have the best chance of remaining amicable if they don’t lay too much blame on the other party.

3. Be alert to the pitfalls

The sooner you can see a divorce solicitor, the better because each decision you make could have an impact on your future. Our legal knowledge and experience means we recognise the unique features in your case, spot potential problems and complications and take early action to iron out difficulties. Lawyers without our depth of experience may identify problems too late or miss them completely, costing you time, money and unnecessary stress.We will make sure that that you get a fair financial settlement. This will involve ensuring that your spouse has disclosed all of their assets and income.  Importantly, we will also ensure that the financial settlement is based on correct information in terms or making sure that the assets and income have been valued fairly; there are various different ways to value assets, so we will make sure that they have been properly valued and not understated. We will also alert you to other pitfalls and factors that might have financial implications such as tax and will use our skill and experience to negotiate a fair financial settlement.

 4. Find a solicitor you feel comfortable with

Your solicitor will be supporting you through one of the most challenging times of your life and it’s important you find someone you have confidence in. Our aim is to put you at ease from the moment you walk into our offices. We understand that you are facing situations you never wanted or expected to face and it is our job to help you make the right decisions for you and your family. We will be on your side and are here to reduce the burden and worry of the coming months.

5. Acknowledgment of service

If your spouse has applied for a divorce you will receive a copy of the divorce petition in the post with an acknowledgment of service form. If you haven’t already sought legal advice you will need to do so quickly, before confirming receipt and within the time limit specified on the papers. Try not to focus on the details given to prove unreasonable behaviour. Look on this as a necessary measure to get the divorce process underway in the absence of a no fault divorce system.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

5 Things You Need to Think About Before You Divorce

When you first start thinking about divorce and all the challenges that lie ahead it can all feel pretty overwhelming.  In our experience, the way things are handled in the initial stages before you divorce can also have a big impact on the outcome and how long the whole process takes.

Here are 5 things to think about to put you on the right track before you divorce:

Where do I start?

Most people who seek our advice are completely at a loss to know where to start first.  They don’t know what to expect both in terms of the outcome or how to get there. Naturally, they are worried about the future and what it might hold for them. Some may have no idea what money there is available because the other handled the finances during the marriage. Don’t let this stop you from taking legal advice. We can help you understand how to move forward and by seeking advice early, you are putting yourself in the best position to secure a fair outcome for you and your family.

I’m more concerned about my children than the money

For most parents the financial arrangements are secondary to the arrangements for the children. This is understandable and when people first approach us we spend time helping them plan how they will discuss the divorce with their children and how they will continue to parent together after divorce. Sorting out the arrangements for your children can be very emotional and our job is to make sure you don’t lose sight of the financial negotiations, so that you and your family can enjoy a secure future once all this is behind you.

I don’t want to fight for every penny

Most people we see want to reach an agreement with their husband or wife quickly and don’t want to fight about it but they are also worried about what the future holds and want to be financially secure. Don’t feel guilty about seeking legal advice about finances early on.  You will be better informed about your options when you are discussing arrangements with your husband or wife and that knowledge may help you reach a workable agreement and avoid you agreeing something which may leave you vulnerable. If you are keen to remain amicable throughout read our advice on how to avoid going to court.

How do I find out what money there is?

You will need to be open with one another and share your financial documents. This can be hard when trust has been lost and emotions are raw and this is where we can help to secure financial information on your behalf. If you suspect money may have been hidden we can undertake a thorough investigation of your financial position to make sure that everything possible is known. Tempting as it might be to go through your spouse’s personal files, it is unlawful to access someone’s private information without their consent, even if you are their husband or wife.

Is it the right time?

If you have been unhappy for some time and have built up the courage to tell your husband or wife you want to separate you will be keen to resolve the arrangements for the children and money as soon as possible.  However this may be unexpected from your spouse’ point of view and they will need time to come to terms with your decision before they can possibly think about plans for the future.  It is recommended that you take legal advice at an early stage but, unless there is something urgent which needs to be resolved, we would normally recommend waiting a little while before trying to negotiate arrangements.

Andrew Meehan and Carol Jessop are the only family lawyers based in Harrogate accredited by Resolution for dealing with complex financial arrangements following divorce.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.