Getting through your Divorce

In order for you to make correct decisions when going through a divorce, your emotional state is crucial. It is therefore imperative that you understand in relationship breakdown that you will experience a whole raft of emotions from distress, anger, a desire for revenge, to acceptance and then moving on. Some people get stuck in the first and second stages.

If you are someone who appears to be in difficulties then obtain some counselling help. Counsellors and psychologists can easily shift your perspective which will mean the difference between misery or having a wonderful new start.

I set out some tips for making your journey easier. It is vital that you choose a lawyer with whom you can work and that you do not waste costs by using your lawyer as a therapist. Use them for legal advice and be guided by it. Before going to see your lawyer, it is helpful for you to write out a short history of the marriage and details of how all of your assets were accumulated. This is important as your case may be one where your contribution is vital. When visiting your lawyer for the first time you may feel emotional and forget important issues, so make a list of questions and bring a friend or family member to make notes. Don?t wait until you are about to leave the room before you ask the killer question or give a piece of information that was vital. Be ready and take away as much as you can from the first meeting.

Don?t expect an instant answer from your experienced lawyer at the first meeting. If they are good, unless you have a full financial picture of both you and your partner they will only be able to talk in generalities at the first meeting. Once there has been an exchange of financial information then they will be able to give you several scenarios which can be used to settle your case. Some will enlist the help of a barrister.

Funding the divorce or breakup is very important for you to consider. You may be eligible for legal funding which is not undertaken by many lawyers. If you are not, then you have to consider how you will pay regular payments to your lawyer in advance of your legal fees. Some take credit cards, others will arrange for you to take a loan, but it would also be helpful for you to consider whether your family or friends will lend you money to pay for your legal fees. Under present law, your partner will not necessarily automatically be expected to pay for these.

When visiting your lawyer you might have already decided to divorce. Alternatively you may wish for there to be a short period of separation until the divorce takes place. The interim period is vital and it is important that you understand that the status quo or current arrangements for payment of bills should remain the same until the divorce.

For there to be a divorce, one party has to take proceedings. In this country you have to have ground for divorce, unlike America where it is based on irreconcilable differences. You have to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This can be evidenced by either the fact that your partner has committed adultery, or behaved in a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them, that they have deserted you for two years, or that they have separated from you for two years and consent, or that you have been separated five years. These days, a copy of your draft petition will normally be sent to the other side to avoid acrimony and difficulties. Once there has been a decree nisi, any agreement over finances can be put into Court and approved or there will be a hearing about the finances if you cannot agree.

There is much confusion about how financial settlements work in this country. There are separate parts to a financial settlement, capital, pensions, income/maintenance and contents. Generally the capital will be divided equally except where the circumstances demand that this shouldn?t happen. So, if you have a long marriage you can expect a 50:50 division of the assets. This will not happen where there has been a short marriage, or the majority of the assets were brought in by the other party before the marriage.

Some people do not understand what capital assets include. These are houses, investments, bank or building society accounts, PEPs, Tessas, ISAs, an interest in a business, shares, or interest in trusts. Pensions will be divided equally in most cases but some women prefer to trade off the pension to get more of the liquid capital.

Maintenance will be payable if one party does not have enough money to meet their day to day needs and the other party can provide this. If you receive enough capital on a settlement you may not get maintenance as well. It really does depend on the circumstances of the case.

Some women opt for a clean break settlement where they receive no maintenance and more of the capital. However, if they have young children, they will likely receive ongoing maintenance.

Contents of the home are usually agreed between couples and rarely dealt with by lawyers. Try to avoid arguing who is going to keep the dinner set, it really is a waste of money.

It is very important that you do not allow your lawyer to become embroiled in your fight. Divorce doesn?t have to be a war, but it only takes one side to start it and a huge effort to stop it. You must think the end game and your new beginning, don?t focus on the hurt.

Making an early offer is helpful but if the other side does not cooperate, get a court hearing date and try to prevent endless correspondence between lawyers.

Learning to start again can be difficult for some, dependant on the hurt you felt. Don?t turn down invites and mope, accept invitations and go out with friends and family. Start with laughing with them and see how quickly you build up your confidence. Don?t see yourself as less important than those who appear to have partners. This is a distorted and unfair view of yourself. It is only an interim period to build up the new you, in readiness for challenges, perhaps a new career, a new home and, if you want, a new partner.

I have seen women turn their lives entirely around as a consequence of divorce and it should be seen as an exciting new beginning, not a fearful ending.

If you have any family law enquiries please contact us on 02083 432 998 or complete the enquiry form online.

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