No matter how hard we try, sometimes marriage just doesn’t work out, and the decision to get divorced can be fraught with conflicting emotions, from relief to dread, anxiety to excitement. No matter your circumstances, there are certain fundamental elements to any separation, and understanding the basics of the process can help you to plan and budget for your divorce. Familiarising yourself with the main first steps of getting divorced might help you feel more in control, and less anxious about the future. Here are a few guidelines on how to get started:
- Grounds for divorce: There is only one cause for divorce and that is an ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ which needs to be supported by one of five ‘facts’ if your petition is to be successful. Three of the facts require waiting periods of between two and five years, but can be fairly straightforward if you are happy to wait. If you and your spouse have been living apart for less than five years you will need confirmation from them to proceed with a divorce, and if you are petitioning for a situation of desertion things start to get a little more technical. Another supporting fact for divorce is adultery, which means simply that your spouse has had or is having a sexual relationship with another person whilst married to you. This applies even if you are separated but still legally married. The final and most common fact relied on as grounds for divorce is ‘unreasonable behaviour’, which can range from personal differences to more serious incidents.
- Finding legal help: A divorce solicitor is essential for helping you negotiate your separation, and is preferable for the entire process, although you may choose only to consult your lawyer for advice on certain aspects of your case. Finding a local solicitor that you trust and can get along with is important, as you will have an important business and personal relationship with them over the course of your divorce.
- Paying for divorce: There are various costs associated with the divorce process, from court fees to paying your solicitor, but it’s possible to agree on fixed fees to help you budget and plan your finances. Frances Lindsay & Co offer fixed legal fees on all our services and set a cost for each step of your separation so that you can choose how much help you can afford.
- Filing for divorce: Filing for divorce involves submitting a divorce petition form containing the personal details of you and your spouse, your children (if applicable) and your solicitor. You will also need to state your reason for filing for divorce, and back this up with proof and documentation where necessary. The person filing for divorce will need to pay court fees at this point, while the respondent (the other partner) will need to decide whether they wish to agree, disagree, or submit their own petition. If you both agree to divorce you have a number of different options that negate the need to go to court (see ‘methods of divorce’ below).
- Methods of divorce: If one partner files for divorce from their spouse, you won’t always have to attend a court hearing to help you come to a decision about the division of your assets and the specifics of your separation. If you want to settle your divorce out of court you can choose from mediation, arbitration,collaborative family law, or even solicitor-to-solicitor negotiations, which enable you to come to a mutual agreement without the need for going to court. You can find out more about the different methods of separation at www.franceslindsay.co.uk or get in touch to speak to one of our divorce solicitors.
- Dividing your assets: All the assets acquired during your marriage will be valued and divided according to your circumstances. These assets might include property, savings, acquisitions, vehicles and possessions. The better you work together with your spouse and your solicitor, the easier this process will be. The aim of the court and your lawyers is always to make divisions as fair as possible – being being as honest as possible can help to make the process simpler when your situation is complex. Coming to a basic financial agreement between each other before you visit your solicitors can really make things run smoother.
- Family arrangements: When you have children, the divorce process may become more complicated, and you and your partner will need to think carefully about your future family arrangements. This could include who the children will live with (or how you will divide the responsibility between you), maintenance payments, and whether one of you will remain in your family home. Collaborative family law and mediation can be very useful ways of resolving conflict and allow you to find the best way to move forward in your separation for the good of your children.
At Frances Lindsay & Co we are experienced family lawyers, divorce solicitors, mediators and collaborative lawyers, and we understand the practical and emotional challenges that come with any separation. We have offices in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, and meeting rooms available in London, so if you’d like to talk about your situation and get advice on your options for proceeding with a divorce, please get in touch. You can call our Maidenhead solicitors office on 01628 634667 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website at www.franceslindsay.co.uk.
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