Info & Advice

What’s the first thing I should do if I’m thinking about getting divorced?

You’ve come to the difficult realisation that your marriage is over. It may be something you’ve been mulling over for weeks – or perhaps it’s something you’ve only just been able to admit to yourself. But once you have reached that point, where do you go next?

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It may sound obvious, but the very first thing you should do, if you haven’t done so already, is talk to your spouse. It is important to get as clear a picture as you can of their attitude to the forthcoming divorce: are they likely to drag their feet, or will they co-operate? Will they be open and transparent, or take an evasive approach and try to hide as many assets as they can?

Considerable efforts have been made in recent years to simplify divorce. It’s now largely a bureaucratic process which consists of formally declaring that your marriage has broken down and then submitting a series of forms at set intervals. These forms can all be submitted online. It is no longer even necessary to cite a reason when applying for divorce.

This all means that many couples do not need any legal assistance when ending their marriage: they can complete the entire divorce process themselves.

Sometimes legal advice is necessary

But if one spouse chooses to be difficult or uncooperative, then the picture quickly changes and it becomes very important to seek legal advice if you possibly can. An expert family lawyer will ensure you receive the full and fair financial settlement to which you may be entitled, depending on the circumstances of your marriage. This is especially important if:

*You and your estranged husband or wife had significant assets.

*You may struggle to financially support yourself following the divorce.

*You signed an agreement before or after your wedding specifying the settlement you would receive if it ended (called a ‘prenuptial’ or ‘postnuptial’ agreement)

Many family law firms offer free ‘clinics’ – no-obligation appointments at which you discuss your situation with a solicitor and get an overview of the different legal options open to you. This can be a very helpful way to ‘test the waters’ and seek clarity and reassurance, especially if you have never spoken to a lawyer before and are not sure what to expect.

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