Divorce

How do we get started?

You need to show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. There are a number of facts which you may rely on to show this and whether these facts apply to you will depend on your circumstances.

If you would like advice about your options, please call Celia or Samantha on 01752 222211 to arrange your free, no obligation consultation.

How long does it take?

Most divorce proceedings take about six to nine months from the date the Court issues the petition. The time frame can be longer if the proceedings are defended or if there are other things like money or property to sort out.

To find out more, please call Celia or Samantha on 01752 222211 to arrange your free, no obligation consultation.

What happens about the children?

No matter how difficult things are between you and your former partner, it is important that children should be protected and supported as much as possible to help them through changes in your family.

In most cases it’s best for children to avoid disruption to their lives as much as possible. This will often mean living with their main carer and having a regular, structured programme of contact with a parent who does not live with them.

If you find it difficult to agree things without support, specialist family solicitors should be able to offer guidance and explain alternative approaches to resolving disputes. Also, solicitors can guide you about when the court needs to help.

It is important to act quickly if there are problems so if you would like advice about your options, please call Celia or Samantha on 01752 222211 to arrange your free, no obligation consultation.

Are money and property always split 50-50?

The short answer is no. In some circumstances, a 50 –50 split is a good starting point but not always. Even when it is used as a starting point, there may be good reasons to move away from this sort of division. What the court aims for is a fair division of what’s available taking account of a whole range of different factors which vary in every relationship.

For specialist advice about the best way to protect your position, call Celia or Samantha on 01752 222211 to arrange your free, no obligation consultation.

What is a "short" marriage?

With about one in every three marriages ending in divorce, expectations about how long a marriage will last have changed dramatically.

Generally family lawyers regard marriages of ten years or more as ‘long’ and marriages of less than six years as ‘short’. However, there are no strict rules and sometimes just looking at dates does not give us the full picture and we will consider other factors.

Many couples choose to live together before they marry. This means that only taking account of the relationship from date of the marriage will give a distorted view about the length of the relationship. For this reason, when sorting out finances on divorce, when cohabitation ‘moves seamlessly into marriage’ this will be regarded as part of the duration of the relationship.

If you are not sure where you stand and need some advice, it is worth speaking to a specialist family solicitor.

What difference does the length of the relationship make when we divorce?

The Court has to consider the length of a relationship on divorce because, in simple terms, in a shorter marriage, any adjustment in respect of financial provision will be lower. This is because the longer a relationship, the more time there is to contribute, to become used to a standard of living and to expect to share in benefits.

The rules are different if there are children born during the marriage because the welfare of the children will be the Court’s first consideration and their needs will need to be met. Also, the person taking main responsibility for the care of any children will continue to contribute to the marriage possibly for many years by doing so.

Consequently, regardless of any issues about child support, children are an important consideration. This issue came up when the Court considered the Paul McCartney and Heather Mills' divorce. Heather received a higher award because she shares the care of Beatrice and could expect to continue to do so for many years.

If you are in any doubt or have any concerns, the best approach is to speak to a specialist family solicitor.

What is the point of mediation?

The aim of mediation is not to try to rescue a failing relationship. The mediator’s role is to provide independent, professional support to help you and your ex work towards an agreement about issues like the arrangements for your children or sorting out what to do about your property, savings, pension or debts.

Some people find that mediation is quicker and less expensive than going to court. In any case, if you are thinking of asking for the Court’s help to sort out any challenges, the judge will usually ask you to consider mediation first. This means that mediation offers a win-win route – either you attend and find that you can agree or narrow issues or you can show that mediation is not viable for your problem and you need the help of the Court.

Mediation is free for people who qualify for legal aid.

Will I get back the money or property that I brought into the relationship?

It depends since, as mentioned above, children are the first consideration, so meeting the needs of any children must be the priority.

After that, the aim is for fairness and there have been recent cases which try to distinguish between property which was generated by one person before the marriage or property which was inherited or received as a gift by one person and ‘matrimonial property’.

Generally, the Court tries to allow a person to retain assets they brought into the marriage as far as possible and tries to divide matrimonial assets equally.  Matrimonial assets include things like the product of a joint business or jointly property.

However, it’s important to remember that the Court has a wide discretion about how to exercise its powers. The Judge may consider that there would be a good reason to take a different approach and will look at issues like needs when deciding whether and, if so, how, to act.

Unlike Heather Mills and Paul McCartney, most of us do not have vast sums of money to spend on arguing these sorts of issues. For this reason it is important to get specialist advice about how best to protect yourself in the event of a marriage breakdown.

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