Divorce Day’ refers to the first Monday that everyone returns fully to work, a day when family lawyers reportedly receive an influx of enquiries from people wanting to separate. Many couples, particularly those with children, may not want to split up before Christmas, a time when families get together; many waiting until after this time to avoid further distress.
The reality is that the decision to divorce or separate is not confined to a particular day as the headlines may suggest. It may be that you and your partner have been living separate lives for some time and you now feel it is time to move on. In cases like this, a divorce can be a relatively straight forward paper exercise; although often emotionally difficult.
You will need to think about any children involved and the impact upon them post-separation and what the arrangements will be. People often ask; ‘what arrangements should be in place?’. The reality again is that there is no right or wrong answer as it is about what works for you and your children; if they enjoy seeing the other parent and it is safe for them to do so then regular contact should take place as often as school and work schedules allow. Key points to consider would be not only the day to day contact e.g alternate weekends and teatime contact; but also things such as holiday arrangements and special occasion contact. There are couples that may continue to live in the same house pending the resolution of matrimonial finances; in this case, there aren’t concerns about contact, but rather the necessity for both parents to remain child focussed.
You may decide to separate but what about the finances? Try to prioritise first of all; this should help make it more manageable to consider. In the immediate term you need to think about what debts you have, such as outstanding loans and your mortgage. It is important to note that if the mortgage is in joint names, you remain liable for the full amount; even if your ex-partner had previously paid the mortgage. Try preparing a budget based on what you and your children need; we have Schedules to help you remember those things you may forget to factor in; from your TV licence to your broadband bill.
You can then start to think about the longer term. Many of my clients are mostly concerned with the family home. It may be that there are some immediate steps you need to take such as protecting your rights in the home; for example, you may need to register something called a Matrimonial Homes Right. There will also be other assets that you need to think about such as businesses, pensions and bank accounts.
What happens next? If you are on speaking terms with your ex-partner then have a frank discussion about what should happen. You may also need some help from an independent mediator who will act as a go-between if communication is strained. Whatever happens, you both need to be fully aware of each other’s financial position to ensure that you are fully informed before attempting to reach an agreement.
It is important to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity so that you are guided in the right direction and are aware of your options. If you want to make an appointment to see our Family Solicitor please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01706 628 008 for your no-obligation free half hour consultation.