The media headlines regurgitate the same report that it is the “peak time of year” for divorce and the subject receives a huge amount of media coverage. A number of dates are often cited as being the most popular date on which to bring a divorce, with some media reports even going so far as to refer to the first Monday in January as “divorce day”. In our experience, “divorce day” is a myth.
Whilst newspaper reports suggest that family tensions have run so high over Christmas that couples immediately contact their divorce lawyer on the first Monday in January, our data over the past few years suggests this is not the case. As a general rule, any new clients that make contact with us at this time of year have been facing difficulties within their relationship for some time. We find that at the start of a new year, some clients take the time to reflect and do take the decision to finally separate, however, we find that often client’s wait a few weeks or even months before contacting us for advice.
It can be hard to know where to start with the process of separation. Your partner was perhaps the go-to person to discuss problems and issues with. Separation can be emotionally challenging and the legal process, complex. We list below 10 things you may like to consider when faced with separation:
1. Get legal advice at an early stage
Even if you do not intend to instruct a solicitor to represent you, it is always advisable to have an initial chat with a Specialist Family Lawyer regarding the way forward. This ensures you know your legal position and your rights before proceeding. It does not have to be costly to take advice. Steeles Law offer an initial meeting with a family law solicitor for £75 plus VAT for up to an hour, where you can chat through any legal issues and raise any questions you have.
2. Don’t panic
Be cautious about making hasty decisions as you may take a wrong turn. For example: moving out of the property without seeking legal advice about your position first.
3. Don’t rely on advice given by friends
There will often be a friend or colleague who is keen to offer you their advice. Every divorce is different due to the individual circumstances of each couple. Therefore, the likely outcomes are different and one can rarely rely on advice given by people from their own experience.
4. Don’t assume
Many people make assumptions without taking legal advice. There are many myths associated with divorce and separation but most of these are either inaccurate or wrong. Good legal advice will set you off in the right direction from the outset.
5. Remain amicable and consider mediation
If you can, have a discussion with your spouse about the way forward. The days of parties going to Court for a Judge to make a decision in respect of financial issues or matters relating to children are becoming infrequent. The ethos now is to try and deal with things in an amicable way whilst also minimising costs for both parties.
6. Get organised
We are often amazed at the number of clients who seek advice and do not know their own financial situation. Ensure you know about what bank accounts and debts are held in joint names. Be aware of the level of joint debt. Know what is owed on credit cards and mortgages. Be in control of your own financial situation.
7. Focus on the best interests of the children
If you have children ensure you discuss issues around separation out of earshot of the children. Avoid making the children feel that they have to take sides. Focus on the children’s best interests as separation is a difficult and confusing time for them.
8. Be realistic
Be realistic in your expectations and do not set them too high. Whatever agreement is reached has to be workable. Ultimately, the matrimonial finances are going to be divided somehow and both parties’ future housing and income needs will need to be met.
9. Consider using a counsellor
Divorce and separation can be a very stressful time and there are many counsellors who are able to offer support. Discussing purely emotional matters with your lawyer is not the best use of your funds. An expert counsellor can be the most cost-effective way forward in the long run.
10. Do not comment about your ex on social networking sites
Commenting about your ex-partner on social networking sites will likely only antagonise the situation further and should be avoided.
Our specialist Family Law Team at Steeles Law offers expert advice regarding divorce, separation, dissolution of civil partnerships and all Family law matters.
We offer a fixed fee as well as pay-as-you-go services meaning you only pay for advice as and when you need it. Our team are supportive and empathetic and we tailor our advice and support to each individual case.
To speak to a member of the Steeles Law specialist Family Law team, please call 01603 59800 or complete the ‘Get in touch’ online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you. Appointments are available in Norwich, Diss and London.
*The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.