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A Solicitors Guide to Divorce

When making your vows to the person you love, it can be difficult to envisage the idea of your relationship breaking down to the extent where divorce is the only applicable option. However, with the increase of divorces and dissolutions of civil partnerships over the last few years, it’s not uncommon for couples to realise they are not happy in their current relationship.

Although divorce and dissolutions have become dramatically less stigmatised in modern times, this doesn’t make the process any easier for those involved. Making a life together with someone only to then take it apart again is not only an emotionally distressing experience for the participants, but it can also be a legal minefield that can be especially difficult to navigate. If proceedings are not dealt with in the correct manner, what is a notoriously stressful situation can become infinitely more upsetting.

It is important to have some form of understanding of the process before beginning so that you fully understand the implications of your decision. Here at Keenan Solicitors, we are experts in traversing the tricky world of divorce law and have learnt a thing or two in the process. With this in mind, here’s our guide to the divorce.

Divorce: What does the law say?

When it comes to divorce proceedings, there are a few legal stipulations that must be adhered to first in order for it to be validated. For starters, the marriage or civil partnership must be legally recognised by the UK and the participants must have a permanent residence within England or Wales. The marriage must also have lasted for a year before it is legally allowed to be dissolved.

It is possible to carry out a divorce without a solicitor and do it yourself, however, this may cause more problems than it’s worth as you begin to realise the magnitude of the situation ahead of you. It should also be noted that you don’t need to have both partners to agree on carrying out a divorce, however, it will save you a lot of time and money if you do.

Finally, it’s useful to mention that there are other options other than choosing to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership. If you believe there is still hope in salvaging your relationship, you can make a separation agreement which helps to sort out arrangements to do with your home and children without carrying out a full divorce.

Coming to an agreement

During a divorce, emotions can run high and tempers can flare between yourself and your significant other. Because of this, making sensible decisions can become increasingly difficult and cause unnecessary stress for both of you. Agreeing on the various intricacies of a divorce, although difficult, is the most cost-effective and emotionally easy way of carrying out the process. If agreements aren’t made, you will need to take a step further and bring your case to court, which can elongate an already lengthy process.

Luckily, if you don’t think you will be able to come to an agreement on your own, there are options you can take to aid you through the process. One option that many people utilise is having a mediator present during the agreement discussion. Having a trained professional on hand to provide an unbiased view of the situation and offer useful objective advice which is especially beneficial in helping to reopen communication channels in a healthy way; something which is extremely important if children are involved.

The other option on offer is to enlist the services of a divorce solicitor to help with proceedings. Although slightly more expensive, the benefits of having a professional in the field of family and divorce law can create a real sense of relief and is a far less expensive choice than taking your case to court. A solicitor’s knowledge of the field will also aid in protecting your best interests throughout the process.

It should also be noted that if you’re entitled to legal aid offered by the government, you may be able to save money on fees incurred by hiring either of these services so it’s always good to check and see if you’re eligible.

Court proceedings with a family solicitor

Unfortunately, sometimes communication can completely break down and an agreement cannot be made between the two parties. Although this is not a particularly good scenario to end up with due to its expensive and emotionally taxing nature, it is still vital that you are prepared for it.

You and your solicitor can start court proceedings for a variety of reasons, from your spouse not giving you the correct information to move forward with talks to the threat of violence making communication unsafe. However, before you can begin, your case, also known as a petition, will need to be filed at the court. It is at this point that you can put forward a financial settlement and arrangements for if you have children.

Your petition will be sent to the respondent (your spouse) who will reply with an Acknowledgement of Service. At this point, court proceedings will begin as you both put forward the necessary documentation for your case. This can take anywhere between 6 months to a year, however, for more complicated issues, receiving the Decree Absolute needed to finalise your divorce can take even longer. Because of this, although your solicitor will do everything in their power to ensure the best result for you, it is wise to see court proceedings as a last resort due to the expenses and the lengthy nature of the process.

Don’t forget about yourself

Let’s not forget one of the most important factors that need to be thought about during a divorce; the feelings and emotions of those involved. As we’ve stated multiple times throughout this article, the breakdown of a relationship is an extremely difficult thing to go through. Indeed, divorce is seen as one of the most distressing events in one’s life along with the death of a loved one and losing your job. With this in mind, it’s extremely important to have an effective support network in place to help you through such a difficult time and to be there after everything has finished.

Luckily, there are places to turn to when in need of support during your divorce. Friends and family will only have your best interests at heart and can be a great crutch. However, there are professional services at hand for you to take advantage of as well. For example, your local GP is able to offer counselling services through the NHS or can point you in the direction of self-help groups. There are also a variety of support groups both online and in person which welcome those going through separation, allowing you to open up about your experience in a safe environment.

If you have children, it’s also important that they have ample support during proceedings as well as a divorce can be an especially distressing event for them too. Start by sitting down with them and explaining the situation in a clear yet sympathetic way and emphasise this not their fault.

Try to then keep their lives as consistent as possible, ensuring that school and social activities remain a large part of their lives. And finally, make sure to create an environment where your children are able to freely express their feelings in an open and healthy way, allowing them to more easily process the situation.

Work with your local family law solicitors

Divorce is a stressful and difficult process for anyone to have to deal with, which is why having an ample support network is crucial. Before making any decisions, it can be especially useful to seek the advice of a trained professional. Here at Keenan Solicitors, our team of expert lawyers have the skills and experience to offer comprehensive advice and representation for your case.

However, our services don’t stop there, as we also have a range of specialists on hand for everything from conveyancing to hearing loss claims. For more information on how we can help with your case, visit our website or get in touch with a member of our team on 028 9049 3349.

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