Separation can be a very stressful time for everyone involved but having the right person to advise you from the start can really help. The partner you are separating from might be your husband, wife, or civil partner. It may also be the partner you live with and/or the co-parent of your children. When you separate from your partner, you might need to work out things like:
- where you and your children are going to live
- how often the children will see the parent they don’t live with
- how to divide up any money or belongings you share
- whether you will be able to afford to pay the bills once you are living separately
- whether you want to end your marriage and file for divorce
- if you are in the UK as a dependant on your partner’s visa, you will also need to check if you can remain in the UK.
There will be a lot to think about whatever your circumstances, and you need to ensure a good level of support and sound advice to help you make the right decisions regarding your finances, your children, and your future.
How do we reach agreement on the important issues?
Separating normally means you will need to think about and talk to your ex-partner about how to divide the property, sort the finances, and make arrangements for any children as soon as you can. There are no rules about how financial or family matters should be agreed and what is important is that the arrangement is workable. Agreeing about these issues is separate from doing legal paperwork to end your relationship. Even if you decide to divorce, it is advisable to reach agreement on these important issues first. A lawyer or mediator may be able to help you and if you want the agreement to be legally binding you will need to apply to court.
Other things you may want to consider are whether to make a new Will, change your name and then let banks, mortgage lenders and other relevant officials know that your status has changed.
Do I need to go to court to get divorced?
Divorce is a legal process that can be applied for by either, or both, of the partners in a marriage, provided you have been married for at least a year. It is the only way to dissolve a legal marriage. Not all religious marriages are recognised in the UK and if this is the case, you will not be entitled to get divorced.
Divorce is dealt with separately from sorting out your finances or the care of, or access rights to, your children. You will be required to fill in a number of forms that need to be filed at court and sent to your spouse, with accompanying fees. It will take at least 6 months from start to finish as there is a prescribed 20-week waiting period within the process between serving the divorce papers and applying to the court for the conditional order. You are also required to attend at least one mediation session with your spouse. However, you do not need to go to court unless you and your spouse disagree vehemently on the division of the assets and arrangements for the children.
How can we help?
Family law matters are emotional and exhausting. Getting timely professional advice can ensure your rights are protected and help you work through the legal issues to settle your matter as efficiently as possible. We can help you through every aspect of your family law matter, including:
- divorce and contested divorces
- financial settlements and disputes
- children’s matters
- pre-nuptial agreements
- mediation and alternative dispute resolution
- civil partnership cases
We have considerable expertise in:
- cases regarding foreign divorces brought pursuant to the MFPA 1984 Act.
- contested international jurisdiction cases with one or more ‘forum shopping’ elements
- cases involving the concealment or dissipation of assets
- high profile or “big money” financial remedy cases, often with international elements
- cases involving complex business and company structures
- cases with offshore trusts (‘Anstalt’/’Treuhand’) and offshore companies
- issues relating to inherited or pre-acquired wealth
- pension cases and disputes where one party has one or more foreign pension rights
- international enforcement disputes
- schedule I of the Children Act 1989 cases, including cases with international elements
- disputes between cohabitants pursuant to TOLATA 1996
- disputed Inheritance Act claim cases under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975
We provide expert advice and guidance to support you and foster a practical, non-adversarial approach wherever possible. James Thornton is a member of Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers committed to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational way. If your matter cannot be resolved through negotiation or other dispute resolution process, we have a deep understanding of court processes and can provide strong advocacy on your behalf.
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