What should I consider before issuing a Divorce Petition?

Divorce is never entered into lightly, and there are a number of factors which should be considered before a petition for divorce is issued. Solicitor, Kim Walsh, looks at some of those considerations…

  1. Be certain that you want to get a divorce

Kim says: “As obvious as it may seem, the decision to get divorced is an emotional one, and the process shouldn’t be entered into impulsively or whilst feeling raw or upset. It is important that you have exhausted all hope of reconciliation before issuing a divorce petition to avoid unnecessary cost and further potential upset.”

  1. Consider the lines of communication between you and your spouse

“Whilst it may not always be possible, it is often best for everyone involved, including the children of a marriage, if you and your spouse are able to communicate amicably in respect of your marriage, arrangements regarding the children, and separating your financial assets.

You will need to consider your financial arrangements both during and after the divorce – for example, who will move out of the family home, or will you both sell up and move to new homes? Where will the children live, and what arrangements do you intend to put into place regarding contact? What will happen to joint accounts, and how will you both stop debts from building up?

If you are on speaking terms with your spouse, we recommend that you prepare a marital balance sheet, detailing all of the assets and debts which may influence the separation of your finances. This will provide an accurate picture of your current financial situation, and what you and your spouse need to consider or split as you start to work towards the desired division of your assets.”

  1. Do you need an IFA?

“You should consider whether you need to obtain independent financial advice. An IFA can advise on issues such as the division of assets in the most tax-efficient way, or how to invest the proceeds of a divorce. An IFA can also help you to consider how you will manage a changed income following divorce, including whether you can afford to continue living in the marital home or what alternative options your new budget will allow.

Depending on the complexity of your financial situation, you may also require other professional services to complete the divorce process, such as an actuary who can provide an accurate valuation of a final salary or other salary-related pensions, or an accountant to help value assets such as businesses.”

  1. Obtain legal advice from the outset

“Getting legal advice at the outset of your divorce will assist you in achieving your desired outcomes during the divorce process. Your solicitor will help you to ensure the correct paperwork is processed, help you with financial disclosure, put into effect any agreement you reach with your spouse either independently or via mediation, and negotiate directly with your spouse or their legal representative, or the Courts, if required.

Your solicitor will also advise if there are any dispute resolution options available which would assist in your separation. These may include a collaborative family lawyer who is trained to help you reach an agreement through a series of meetings with your spouse, or mediation, which is the most amicable solution to divorce, and a cost effective way to reach an agreement. If an agreement is reached in mediation, your solicitor will then draw up the necessary paperwork to be approved by the courts within the divorce.”

  1. Develop a support network

“One, often overlooked, aspect of divorce is the emotional toll that the process may take on you and your family. It is important to try to surround yourself with people who can help you through any difficult times, and you may also want to speak to a therapist or mental health professional for support. Being emotionally stable during the divorce process will better prepare you to make smart decisions as your divorce progresses.”

Whilst not exhaustive, these tips can help to prepare you for the divorce process and allow you to get ready for the road ahead. For further legal advice regarding any aspect of divorce and/or family law, please contact a member of our team on familylaw@woodfines.co.uk, or contact us on (Bedford) 01234 270600, (Cambridge) 01223 411421, or (Milton Keynes) 01908 202150.