When the problems in your marriage have come to a head and the relationship has broken down, it may be time to take steps towards a fresh start.
The breakdown of a marriage is a difficult time for most spouses and there are often many competing interests and emotions. It is not always easy to know where to begin or the best way to go about it.
We set out some practical tips to guide you through the first steps of preparing for divorce.
- Establish whether you have grounds to get divorced. Although ‘No Fault divorces’ are due to come into force (which means that you will only need to state that your relationship has broken down irretrievably to get divorced) under current law it is necessary to establish one of five reasons to be able to initiate divorce proceedings. The most common reasons being ‘unreasonable behaviour’ and ‘adultery’. Further information on the different reasons and how to satisfy the relevant requirements can be found here: www.gov.uk/divorce.
- Speak to your spouse. If you and your spouse are on speaking terms, it would be helpful to arrange a time without distractions to explain how you are feeling about the marriage. Keeping things amicable, where possible, is likely to result in your divorce process running more smoothly. It is helpful if you can work together constructively to try to reach a fair outcome for both of you. Being open and honest about how you feel and listening to each other’s perspectives can also assist in understanding how you both envisage your futures. This may also enable you both to minimise your legal fees. However, where relationships have broken down to the extent that such discussions are unlikely to be constructive, putting your position forward via solicitors can ensure that the relevant issues are addressed.
- Review Divorce Petition guidance. The party initiating divorce proceedings will need to complete a Divorce Petition for submission to the Family Court. Many people instruct a solicitor to assist in completing this form, particularly if there is significant wealth or assets involved.
You may wish to review the Divorce Petition and consider the guidance prior to commencing the process in order to gain a clearer idea of the information that will be required from you. The form can be found on the gov.uk website.
- Gather your financial information. As part of the divorce process, you will need to provide full financial disclosure to your spouse. This is to ensure that both parties are aware of the matrimonial pot available for division. The objective will be for the assets to be divided fairly between you. Gathering your financial information will give you a clearer understanding of your assets, liabilities and income prior to entering negotiations, which should help the process run more smoothly. If you have an initial meeting with a solicitor, it is helpful to have this information to hand.
- Consider the final outcome you hope to achieve. How the assets are divided will depend on you and your spouse’s respective capital and income needs and these will be considered against the assets and income available for division. Will you need to re-house and if so, what type of alternative property might be suitable for you? Are there any children and if so, who will they live with and how will their needs be provided for? It might be helpful to prepare a schedule setting out your current income needs and how these might change on divorce. The starting point for the division of assets on divorce is a 50/50 split, but this can be varied depending on a number of factors.