When divorce seems to be the only solution, the next step can be a bewildering array of advice and â€˜I never even thought of thatâ€™ moments.
Usually friends or family will step in to advise and whilst their support can be invaluable during times of stress, itâ€™s always recommended to seek professional independent advice.
At such a difficult time, everyone involved needs time to adjust, particularly if you have children. That’s why it’s important to consider all the routes available to achieve a quick and cordial agreement, says Vanessa Fox, head of family law at hlw Keeble Hawson in Sheffield.
From April 22, as part of new legislation, couples will have to consider undergoing mediation sessions. Mediation is where both spouses meet in front of a qualified mediator with the aim of arriving at an amicable settlement. The meetings are confidential and without prejudice should an agreement not be reached
Collaborative law is similar to mediation, but both spouses have the benefit of their individual solicitors attending each meeting. Accountants, pension advisers and estate agents can also be involved. If the meetings fail, then the only option is court, however, new legal representation will have to be appointed.
When going through a separation or divorce, these are some of the issues you will have to consider:
Division of the family home â€“ If the house is in joint names you will need to look at separating your interests which may involve one party buying out the other or the property being put up for sale.
If you have been a stay-at-home parent and not worked, remember that the courts will usually give you time to adjust to living separately and will not expect you to return to work immediately.
All documents relating to your financial affairs should be taken with you if move out of the family home.
If you plan to move out the marital home make sure you take those possessions you would like to retain with you preferably with the agreement of your spouse. However, do not remove all the valuable items as this will be perceived in a negative light by the court.
If you and your spouse make an agreement then make sure you put it in writing. Although it will not be legally binding, it will help a court determine what your understanding and your spouse’s understanding was at the time.
Seek financial advice about taking out a mortgage, if you plan to buy a property, and about your pension, if you have one.
Try not to involve your children in any disputes you may have with your spouse. They need to know that your separation is nothing to do with them and that you still love them.
This post was written by Vanessa Fox, head of family law at hlw Keeble Hawson.