The divorce process is never easy, no matter how amicable the separation. Regardless of how reasoned a divorce decision is, you will still need to involve the legal profession to put your decision through the courts to finalise the split. If a marriage breakdown is acrimonious then the situation is complicated further, especially if there are arguments about property, finances, or worst of all, the children.
Before a family law solicitor takes your case on, there are several things they’ll want to know before you sit down with them to thrash out the details. This is our checklist of the five things your family lawyer wants you to know before you book an appointment to see them, so that you’re not ‘blind-sided’ or taken by surprise.
Every divorce is different, and every experience is unique to the individuals involved. So the advice your recently divorced friend is giving you is most probably wrong. Unless they are a practising family law expert, they won’t be able to give you the technical information you need. And while the advice they give you may be given with the very best of intentions, bear in mind that they are only talking from their experience, which is going to be completely different from your own. They’ll also probably be biased in their opinions, again, no doubt, out of compassion for the trials their best friend is currently going through.
At this difficult time, you don’t need tea and sympathy from a friend, you need clear advice from a professional. They will be able to give you an impartial and honest opinion as well as guiding you through the legalities of the process. They’ll be sympathetic, of course, but they’ll also be honest with you. And at this point in your life, that’s exactly what you need.
2. You may get advice that you don’t want to hear
It’s never nice to hear bad news. But during a divorce, there’s a lot of that going around. Your solicitor is there to represent you honestly and without prejudice, which may mean that sometimes, you’ll be told things that you may not want to hear. Be prepared for this, and don’t take it personally – your family law expert isn’t there to cause you any more upset or pain, but is genuinely trying to help you resolve the situation. Even if you decide to do the complete opposite of what your solicitor suggests, make sure you listen to what they have to say first before you make a decision. If necessary, give yourself a little bit of time to take in their advice before you act.
3. Your spouse committing adultery does not automatically mean they get less money in the financial settlement or lose the right to see their children
Betrayal is a desperately hard thing to deal with. But even if your spouse has turned out to be a serial philanderer, that will not necessarily mean that they forfeit the right to see the children, or even that they get less financially out of the divorce. You don’t have the right to ‘penalise’ your ex-partner for their adultery.
4. In most cases, neither parent has more rights than the other over the care of the children
The primary concern in a divorce where there are children involved is that the interests of the children are put first and foremost. Unless there has been domestic abuse involved, children will always benefit from having a relationship with both parents. The courts will recognize this, and unless there are serious implications towards the safety and well-being of the children (both physically and mentally), they will always try to ensure that both parents have equal rights and fair access. At this point, it’s time to put aside your personal feelings about your ex-spouse and think purely about the welfare of the children.
5. The end financial result should be one that you can ‘live with’
Rather than trying to take your ex-partner to the proverbial cleaners, you’ll eventually need to reach a compromise when it comes to the finances. The distribution of property and assets needs to be fair to both parties to avoid long, drawn-out fights over who gets the dog, and whether or not an ex-spouse has a right to a share of their partner’s pension. Be fair, be reasonable, and be prepared to negotiate to a point where you have a financial result that’s acceptable, even if it’s not quite what you wanted to start with.
Remember that your family law expert is there to help, but you will need to go into the process expecting to have to compromise to get the result you both want. If your relationship has come to an end and you need advice, talk to your family law solicitor today.
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