Love is in the Air
Valentine’s Day is upon us and love is in the air, well for most. On a day when everyone seems to be giving and receiving cards filled with love, chocolates, flowers and gifts, what do you do when instead you have divorce papers thrust in your face over your morning coffee? Or dropped through the letter box at 10am? What do you do when a day that is meant to be filled with love and romance turns into your unexpected nightmare?
As we saw in January of last year, D-Day for divorces is not in fact the first Monday after New Year, as so many law firms’ claim, but closer to summer in the UK. However, in Germany D-Day falls on and around Valentine’s Day and this is a theme that seems to be spreading.
In 2007 WZZO, a commercial rock radio station located in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, in the United States, offered its listeners a chance to end their marriage with a free divorce. The catch being that you needed to win this divorce by writing a “divorce poem”. The winner would then be announced live on the radio on Valentine’s Day. The poems were less than romantic with lines such as, “Oh how I loathe you, there were no better days”, “my disgust for you is just a fact”, and even to the extreme of, “Hoping that you get into a car wreck”.
The trend of publically throwing a divorce in a partner’s face did not end with the one radio station, many followed suit and in 2012 Kiwi Radio Station in Auckland offered an all-expenses paid divorce to one lucky winner who was willing to tell their partner they wanted a divorce live on air on Valentine’s Day. And it didn’t stop at radio stations, in 2013 Bently Law in Southfield Michigan ran a competition for a free divorce. As the competition progressed they shared the following comment on their professional Facebook page, “The contest is still open. Why not forward or share with a friend that you know is deserving? Some Valentine’s day gifts last longer than chocolate.”
Ban Valentine’s Day
With countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and India denouncing Valentine’s Day celebrations and sections of other countries, such as Russia’s Belgorod province and Lake Nona High School in Florida banning Valentine’s Day all together, it is quite possible that Valentine’s Day is becoming less and less popular as a day of love across the globe.
Top 8 Action Points
We at Paradigm Family Law do not agree with publically shaming your ex live on air and instead want to outline the key factors you should consider if you want to avoid the Valentines Blues.
- Keep calm.
The first thing to do in this situation is to control how you react; your reaction can have a big effect on the divorce proceedings later. It will be easy to fall into the trap of getting lost in the emotions as the divorce continues. Receiving your divorce papers on Valentine’s Day has more than likely caused some upset and a great deal of worry. There are probably a number of very important questions currently racing through your mind and we hope to be able to answer some of these below.
- How do I choose a solicitor?
There are a number of things you should consider when selecting a solicitor. Do not make a rash decision. Do some research and make some informed decisions. We presume, by finding this blog, you have already started your research. But what questions do you ask? What do you look out for? What do you need?
Many firms and many solicitors across the country may claim to be the best family lawyers, the largest practices, to have extensive experience, but you should not simply take these claims on face value and jump straight in. You need to consider what you need. Do you have children? A business? Is there an international element to your divorce? Do the law firms actually have the expertise you need? These are all questions you should be asking yourself.
Check what areas of expertise each firm has and whether these expertise correspond to what you need from your divorce solicitor. Check the firm’s credentials, check the solicitor’s credentials and try to find reviews. It is all well and good that a firm claims to be a top family law firm, but if they don’t have extensive expertise in the areas you need then they may not be the firm for you. You also need to consider expense, and remember more expensive is not always better.
Once you have found a firm that appears to fit your needs, a firm that has the credentials and good reviews then make initial contact. You should be offered an initial consultation and it is at this point you get a real feel for the firm. Don’t simply go hoping to get all the answers to your questions; go and get an understanding of how the firm operates and most importantly you need to see if the solicitor you are sat in front of is someone you will feel comfortable discussing the most intimate parts of your marriage with.
- What will it cost?
This is one of the most common questions we at Paradigm Family Law hear and rightly so. With a recent change in the law meaning that those getting divorced can no longer claim legal aid, unless domestic violence is involved, cost is something that must be considered. Most firms will charge on a time charge basis. The cost of a solicitor’s time will depend upon the law firm and can vary greatly. You can heavily reduce the costs by being prepared for your meetings. Before your initial meeting try to compile a list of your assets and of the areas that you believe will affect your divorce. The more prepared you are the more time you will have with the solicitor discussing the legal side of things. Take notes during the initial consultation and come away with a plan.
At Paradigm Family Law, we understand that the cost element of any divorce can seem exceedingly daunting and it is not always something that you feel you can cover. Costs creep up quickly when you are being charge on the time your solicitor spends on your case. Therefore, we have put together a fixed fee option that allows you to keep a check on the financial side of things without the stress of actually considering the finances on a daily basis or every time you wish to speak to your solicitor.
- What will I get?
This will entirely depend on your case. We have outlined below the possible orders that can be made. Please remember that these are case dependent and a solicitor will be in a much better position to advise when they fully understand the background of your case.
All orders may be made by consent or by the court. Consent orders are generally a result of mediation whilst court orders are a result of litigation.
There are a number of orders a court may make in regard to the family’s financial assets. These include:
Maintenance Pending Suit – an interim order requiring your ex to pay you maintenance whilst the final court order is being made.
Periodical Payments Order – much like the maintenance pending suit, however this is for a specified period following the divorce or for life.
Secured Periodical Payments Order – maintenance is paid via a capital investment.
Lump Sum Payments – a sum of money is paid, usually as a single payment, although it may be split into a course of payments.
Settlement of Property Order – your matrimonial home, other property, land and endowment policies can be transferred or assigned to you, or sold and the proceeds of sale paid to you or split between yourself and your ex.
Pension Provision Order – There are two possible outcomes here: 1. the pension fund is split between yourself and your partner (pension sharing order) or 2. a percentage of the money invested in the pension fund is held for you until the pension is paid out (pension attachment order).
A Clean Break Order – severs all financial ties between yourself and your ex. It is exactly what it says on the tin: a clean break.
- What about the children?
In 2013, according to the Office of National Statistics, almost half of divorcing couples had at least one child and there were 94,864 children aged under 16 whose parents were divorced. The first thing to understand is that child matters and financial matters are dealt with separately and it must be something that you consider in full. You have to consider the effect your divorce is going to have on your child and this must be the driving factor when trying to keep your divorce as amicable as possible.
There are a number of orders that can be made with regards to the children of the marriage and these will largely depend on the circumstances. The orders that are most frequently made following divorce are Residence Orders, deciding where a child lives, and Contact Orders, deciding the contact arrangements in regard to the parent who does not have day-to-day care of the child.
As with financial orders these orders may be made by consent or via court order. Here it is advisable to have the child in mind and try to come to an amicable arrangement with your ex to achieve the best possible outcome for your children.
In addition to the above, the court will make a child maintenance order. This order ensures that the parent without the day-to-day care of the child pays a form of maintenance, separate to spousal maintenance, to the other parent in order to support the child.
- How do I protect myself and my finances?
Firstly, stay within the matrimonial home, if possible. Leaving the matrimonial home can leave you in a slightly weaker position as the divorce progresses. Secondly, try to organise as much information in regards to your finances as possible. Make a list of the accounts you have, the accounts you believe your ex has, and any assets. That being said, do not root through your ex’s laptop, phone, private paperwork and so onwards. A solicitor will not be allowed to look at anything you find in this way and thus it is a waste of time and effort. At your initial consultation you should be asked about your current financial status and you should have some idea of how to deal with your financial situation when you leave. Most importantly, keep an eye on your accounts, especially your joint accounts, and your assets. If you feel there is inexplicable movement of money then it is advisable to speak to a solicitor immediately.
- Will how I behave have any affect?
The answer is increasingly yes. Whilst it may not have an impact on the dividing of assets it could lead to cost orders being made against you. Whilst getting divorced is an exceptionally worrying, stressful and emotional time, you need to ensure that your behaviour does not negatively affect the outcome of your case. This is especially true when children are involved, you must ensure that your children aren’t unduly dragged into your divorce. This is not good for you or them.
To read more on behaviour and litigation conduct, please feel free to jump over to a previous blog of ours: Litigation Conduct – Behave Yourself.
- Are there any other options?
Your divorce does not have to end in costly litigation and blazing rows. It is possible to try to resolve your financial and child matters outside of the court room via mediation. This is a process whereby a third party, a mediator, tries to work with yourself and your ex with the aim of coming to a mutual agreement on all matters.
The above being said, always remember that there are two theories about where Valentine’s Day came from. The second theory is that while the Roman Emperor Claudius II was trying to rally and control his army, he banned all marriages. In the spirit of love however, St. Valentine defied the ban and performed marriages in secret. When Claudius II found out about these marriages he had St. Valentine executed, the execution taking place on the 14th of February. So, it could be worse.
For more details on this or any other family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact James or Frank. Paradigm Family Law offer a free initial consultation and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 0845 6020422 or email us to [email protected]. You can also follow us on twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest news and views on family law.