10 things you need to think about before divorce


For many families, the summer holidays mean long, peaceful days enjoying the sunshine. But for some couples, spending 24 hours a day together can highlight cracks in their marriage, and start thoughts of divorce.

It’s no coincidence that January and the summer holidays are peak times of the year for couples to call divorce solicitors. While most of the year we’re distracted by work, household chores and other commitments, family holidays and the Christmas period usually lead to couples spending 24 hours a day together – and unable to ignore any widening rift in their relationships.

So if you’re finding this time of year a struggle, and losing faith in the future of your relationship, take heart from the fact you’re far from alone.

But before you head straight to the divorce courts, Ann Corrigan, founder of Clarity Family Law, a specialist family law firm in Buckinghamshire and also a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer, explains that there are a number of issues you need to consider.

10 things you need to know before you even think about divorce

If divorce is on your mind, you’re probably going through a lot of different emotions. It can be hard to stay calm and consider the practical implications of divorce. But there are a few things you need to know.

1) Life post-divorce

Life after divorce will look very different. Divorce is much more than simply separating from your partner. It’s a radical change in housing, finances and circumstances for you and any children you have together.

So before you enter into the divorce process, it’s important that you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in those three areas.

2) Quickie divorce?

There’s no such thing. It takes a minimum of four months (but more likely six months) for the final papers to come through.

3) Finances and arrangements for children

It’s easy to assume that all the financial and children issues will be sorted out along with the divorce, but actually all that often comes afterwards.

4) Reasons for divorce

There are only four reasons for divorce:

  • Adultery.
  • Unreasonable behaviour.
  • Desertion (if your partner has left without a good reason).
  • Separation (you can get a divorce after two years of living apart, if both of you agree).

5) Getting legal aid

There is no legal aid for divorce itself, but you might be able to get legal aid to pay for mediation services.

6) Court costs

If you can keep things amicable you shouldn’t need to go to court. But if you can’t agree on financial support, division of assets or child maintenance, that’s where you are likely to end up.

It would be a mistake to assume that because you are in the ‘right’ and your ex-partner is in the ‘wrong’, this will influence the outcome. The judge only cares about what’s fair for current and future need. Similarly, if you can’t agree on who is going to pay for the divorce, the judge will do it for you.

7) Decree nisi and decree absolute

Six weeks after the decree nisi – an order by a court stating the date on which a marriage will end – the person applying for the divorce can have the divorce made ‘absolute’. This legally dissolves the marriage. However, you are usually better off waiting until financial matters have been settled before finalising your divorce in this way.

You have to apply for the decree absolute within 12 months of getting the decree nisi – otherwise you will have to explain the delay to the court.

8) Beware of DIY divorce

You should only do this if you agree on why you’re divorcing, who will look after the children and how you’ll split your accumulated assets. Even then, if your asset or property matters are complicated, you should still enlist the help of a solicitor.

9) Rejection of a divorce

A judge can reject your application for divorce under certain circumstances – for example of the unreasonable behaviour is not deemed to be unreasonable enough (though he or she will tell you why).

10) Keep a record

Finally, while it may be tempting to get rid of all records of your marriage, you’ll need to keep the decree absolute safe. You’ll need it should you ever decide to take the plunge and marry again.

If you’re considering divorce and want to find out what your options are, Clarity Family Law Solicitors will guide you through the process (you can call them on 01753 880075).

Ann Corrigan is founder of Clarity Family Law, and a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer. 

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