It may be the hardest decision you ever have to take in your life. It would not be surprising if you agonised for months, even years, over whether your marriage is salvageable, or whether you should file for a divorce.
You will probably have talked over your relationship with your spouse, tried to reconcile differences and maybe even tried counselling or mediation.
If all that fails, however, you may feel you have no choice but to separate and divorce.
Once you’ve made that decision, it’s important that you get the best advice right at the outset to ensure everything is done correctly and the potential for heartache and stress is kept to a minimum.
There are so many things to consider such as: what are your grounds for divorce, how do you begin proceedings, what will happen to your children, how will you cope financially, how do you find your way through the paperwork…the questions keep coming.
It can seem overwhelming, especially at a time when you’re likely to be emotionally upset.
At this point, the key thing you need to do is consult a solicitor who specialises in family law and divorce proceedings.
A good solicitor will hold a meeting with you in a relaxed atmosphere so they can help you assess your situation and explain your options. They’ll want to know why your marriage has broken down and ensure that you’re certain you want to proceed to divorce.
Once you confirm that you do, they’ll start to ask questions to get the information they need to begin proceedings.
You will need to confirm what your grounds for divorce will be. There are currently five reasons for being granted a divorce: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation if both agree to the divorce, or five years separation, even if the husband or wife disagrees.
These reasons are currently being reviewed by the government, but your solicitor will be able to advise you if there are changes in the future.
You’ll be asked for key dates such as when you and your spouse separated, or key events that triggered the breakdown of the marriage.
Your solicitor will want to get a full picture of your circumstances. For example, do you have children? Have you considered what will happen to them after the divorce? Do you expect them to live with you or with your partner? Have you discussed child arrangements with your spouse? Are you broadly in agreement or are there likely to be disputes about residence and contact?
You will also be asked about your financial situation. The law starts from the principle that marital assets should be split equally and that both partners have a responsibility to contribute to their children’s upkeep. In practice, however, equality and fairness can be difficult to assess.
Your solicitor will need to ask questions about you and your spouse; your incomes, assets, savings, future pension provisions and so on.
The answers to these questions will determine whether the divorce can go ahead in an amicable, straightforward way. If not, your solicitor may suggest you and your partner try mediation or arbitration to help you settle any disagreements. If that doesn’t work, it may be necessary to begin court proceedings.
Your solicitor will be able to advise the best course of action and begin the divorce proceedings. This starts with the filing of a divorce petition and ends with the granting of the Decree Absolute, meaning your marriage has formally ended.
How good a settlement you receive, and how smoothly the divorce proceeds, will depend on the choices you make in consultation with your solicitor, so it is essential to ensure you get the right advice at the right time.
If you would like more information or advice about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of family law please contact our expert legal team on 0208 004 0065, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or using the form below.
The contents of this article is general information only. The information in this article is not legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should obtain independent expert advice from qualified solicitors such as those within our firm.