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5 January 2015

The New Year Divorce Peak – 10 Practical Tips

It is a sad reality that the New Year brings about a peak in separations and applications for divorce and dissolution of civil partnership.

Every January this subject receives a lot of media coverage.  A number of dates are often cited as being the most popular date on which to start a divorce, with some media reports even going so far as to refer to the first Monday in January as “divorce day”.  Our data over the past few years suggests that it is true that sadly often parties do take the decision to separate early on in the New Year, however, sometimes we find that client’s wait a few weeks or even months before contacting us for advice.

For couples facing separation, it can be hard to know where to start in such a strange and emotionally challenging process and therefore we list below 10 considerations to make when faced with divorce:

1. Get legal advice at an early stage

Even if you do not intend to formally instruct a divorce solicitor, it is always advisable to have an initial chat with a specialist family lawyer regarding the way forward.  This ensures that you know your legal position and your rights before proceeding.

2. Don’t panic

Be cautious about making hasty decisions as you could make wrong decisions.  For example, moving out of a property without seeking legal advice about your position first.

3. Don’t rely on advice given by friends

There will always a friend or colleague who is keen to offer you their advice.  The thing to remember is that every divorce is different due to the individual circumstances.  Therefore, the likely outcomes are different and one can rarely rely on advice given by people on their own experience.

4. Don’t assume

Many people make assumptions without taking legal advice.  However, there are so many myths associated with divorce and separation and therefore assume nothing.

5. Remain amicable and consider mediation

Try and 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 matters 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 regarding your finances

We are often concerned by 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 and be aware of the level of joint debt, to include credit cards and mortgages.  It is always wise to know and be in control of your own financial situation.

7. Focus on the best interests of the children

If you have children, there is no need to involve them just because you and your spouse are not getting along.  Always discuss the situation out of earshot of the children and avoid making the children feel that they have to take sides.  Focus on the children’s best interests.

8. Be realistic

Be realistic in your expectations – whatever agreement is reached has to be workable and therefore do not set your expectations too high.  Ultimately, the matrimonial finances are going to be divided somehow and both parties’ future housing 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.  By employing an expert counsellor this can work out much more cost-effective in the long run.

10. Do not comment about your spouse on social networking sites

Commenting about your spouse on a social networking site will only antagonise the situation further and is not advisable, whatever they may have done.  Sometimes it is appropriate for us to advise clients to temporarily close such accounts until matters are concluded to avoid the temptation to post inappropriate content.

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 fixed fee services as well as pay-as-you-go services, meaning that you only pay for advice as and when you need it.  Our team is supportive and empathetic and we tailor our advice and support to each individual case.

During the month of January, we are also offering a 30 minute initial consultation free of charge.  Contact us to make an appointment to discuss your current situation and options going forward in more detail.

For more information please contact our family law team.