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Insight | For Individuals

5 points to consider before a divorce or separation

Sad little girl hug father upset by father leaving as parents divorce.

If you are wondering whether to proceed with a divorce or separation, it is always a good idea to think things through carefully first. We take a look at what to consider if you are contemplating a divorce and how you can prepare if you do decide to go ahead.

1. Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

It can sometimes help to look ahead and ask yourself what you want from life. If you are going through a difficult patch in a relationship, is it something you feel you want to work through, or do you see yourself moving on without your spouse?

If you want to try and save your marriage and you believe that there is a chance you could be happy together, then you could take steps to try and achieve this. Counselling may help you both be open and honest about what you want and how you might be able to improve matters.

If you come to the conclusion that you do want to separate, then it may helpful to try and look at matters from a practical point of view and start putting a plan into place. You will need to consider issues such as where you will live, how you will support yourself and what steps to take next.

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2. Children

If you have children, then a major concern is likely to be how they will deal with a breakup. If you do decide to separate, then try and make a plan together with their other parent dealing with the difficult issues of telling them and sharing the parenting as you move into the next phase of your lives.

You may want to wait until particular events are past, for example, birthdays, holidays or exams. Try and talk to them together and listen to their concerns, whatever they may be.

If you are able to agree a parenting plan with their other parent, it is a good idea to put this in writing, so that you can refer back to it in the future if necessary. This applies to other aspects of the separation as well. For example, if you agree on certain financial issues or how property will be shared between you, by setting out agreed points in an email or letter you may be able to avoid disagreements at a later date.

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3. Find the support you need

It goes without saying that this is likely to be a difficult time. Finding support will help, whether this is from friends or family or professionals, such as a counsellor and a solicitor. Professionals will be able to set out your options for you. A counsellor can help you analyse what action you want to take, while a family lawyer will be able to talk you through the steps you will need to make prior to a divorce and explain what you might expect from a financial settlement.

An experienced family lawyer will ensure that the process keeps moving and that the divorce and associated agreements are dealt with without delay. At Heald we are vastly experienced in family law and legal matters.
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4. Decide on your approach

If you do decide to divorce, you need to be clear on the approach you will be taking. You can deal with some issues yourself, but there is a risk that you could lose out if you take certain steps in the wrong order or if you agree to something that is not in your best interests.

A family law solicitor will be able to ensure that your rights and interests are observed and can often negotiate on your behalf with your spouse or their solicitor to agree on contentious issues such as finances, property and children.

Where an agreement is not possible, they will be able to refer you to mediation, which is generally the next step.

It is important to take legal advice before agreeing to a financial settlement to ensure that all relevant considerations have been taken into account. By way of example, pensions form part of the matrimonial assets to be shared on divorce, but they are sometimes forgotten or not included by individuals who undertake a DIY divorce.

It is also the case that if you take on some of the work yourself, the process could stall, and you may end up waiting a long time for matters to be finalised. It might also end up costing you more in the long run with a lawyer having to look over all the paperwork, piece together what is outstanding, and rectify any mistakes that are made. If part of your financial matter has been dealt with without advice, it might also be difficult or impossible for a lawyer to undo this and it may affect the outcome of your case.

An experienced family lawyer will ensure that the process keeps moving and that the divorce and associated agreements are dealt with without delay.

A family law solicitor will be able to ensure that your rights and interests are observed and can often negotiate on your behalf with your spouse or their solicitor to agree on contentious issues such as finances, property and children.

5. Preparation

You can start collating your paperwork so that if you do decide to go ahead, you have your records ready. You will both be required to fully disclose your finances to each other. This means providing documentary evidence of all of your assets and liabilities. This can be a lengthy process, involving obtaining statements from financial bodies, so it is a good idea to make a start on this if you think that you will be asking for a divorce.

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Our family law team have in-depth expertise across a wide range of legal issues. We will deal sensitively with your case and ensure that you have the support that you need throughout.

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