The breakdown of a relationship can be stressful and difficult for all concerned. As a Divorce Lawyer based in Sevenoaks, I provide specialist advice about the legal consequences of divorce, dissolution or separation. After discussing your options, I offer clear, objective advice to help minimise the pain that the end of a relationship can bring.
I recommend seeking legal advice at the earliest opportunity, as any decision you make could have an impact on a financial settlement order and the child arrangements.
The person who initiates the divorce is known as the Petitioner and the person receiving the divorce petition is the Respondent. You must be married for at least 12 months before divorce proceedings can be initiated.
Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the sole ground for divorce. To prove this is the case, the petitioner must cite one of the following five causes: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, 2 years of separation, 5 years of separation, or desertion.
The divorce process takes an average of between 4 and 6 months, and can be longer. However, it is common for people to wait until a financial settlement order has been obtained before applying for a decree absolute to conclude the divorce. On average, it takes between 6 and 12 months to obtain a financial settlement order, sometimes longer.
Alternatives to Divorce?
A separation agreement is a contract made between spouses who have already separated, and usually sets out how the couple’s finances should be divided in the event of divorce.
The agreement is binding upon both spouses. However, in a subsequent divorce, the court has the power to revisit the separation agreement and alter it if circumstances have changed or the agreement proves to be imprecise, for example due to a lack of full financial disclosure when the separation agreement was entered into.
A judicial separation involves applying to the court for a formal separation although the parties remain married to each other, and is often used by spouses who do not wish to divorce for moral or religious reasons but would like the court to make a financial order. In practice, this type of separation is rare, and has the disadvantage that the court does not have the power to make a pension sharing order for the benefit of either spouse.
Almost all divorces involve the consideration of the family’s financial arrangements. This is often a sensitive matter and filled when emotion, especially when it involves the consideration of the family home.
There is no standard formula for calculating appropriate financial provision for a spouse on divorce. The starting point is a 50/50 division of assets, however, the overall division may be unequal depending on the needs of the parties and any children, and based on other factors too. The discretionary nature of family law can be difficult for a client to understand. The reason for this is because each case is considered on the individual family’s circumstances.
A number of factors are taken into account when considering the financial arrangements on divorce, with the first consideration being the welfare and needs of any child(ren) under the age of 18. Other factors include the incomes and earning capacities of the spouses, ages of the parties, length of the marriage, financial resources available now and in the future, housing needs of the parties, contributions made, pre-marital and inherited assets.
I am able to provide pragmatic advice as to a likely financial settlement achievable through solicitor-negotiation, court and mediation while at the same time maintaining an empathetic manner. It is important that you seek legal advice about financial matters early on.