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When parties decide to separate the initial emotional upheaval can mean decisions around the bigger issues are deferred. Once you have had time to adjust to the day to day reality it is important to plan how you are going to move forward.
Identifying what the issues are going to be for you is a good place to start.
Are you and your spouse in agreement to the separation? If so, then things can be much easier to resolve as opposed to a long, drawn out contested divorce where the parties cannot agree on the terms of the separation.
If there are children of the marriage, are there going to be issues around residence, contact, child maintenance and spousal financial support? If there is a mortgage, household bills, childcare to be paid then there needs to be decisions around how this will be apportioned. Being aware of the issues and having thought through potential solutions means you can be one step ahead when you seek legal advice.
Often it can be tempting to ‘go it alone’ or save money on legal fees by coming to arrangements yourselves, and that’s great if things are amicable and everyone is clear and open with regards the details. However all too often it becomes apparent that things are not quite as they seem and a former partner can turn out to be unpredictable or even difficult when it comes to resolving these issues.
That is why getting the right advice early is important. Whilst it can be tempting to tighten purse strings in a newly independent financial position, spending money on getting advice can potentially save you a lot of acrimony later. You can also be prepared which will save on the work your Solicitor has to do, therefore saving on your bill and helping to kick start the process. Having your financial documentation prepared in advance of your first consultation is relatively simple for the most part; printing off bank statements, obtaining mortgage redemption figures, providing your P60 and payslips will all assist. Matters such as property valuations are often done as a combined instruction but being prepared with your own personal financial information very much narrows the issues for your Solicitor.
The first thing people often want to know when they visit their Solicitor is how long will the divorce process will take; unfortunately no two cases are the same and it is impossible to know what issues may arise during the matrimonial proceedings that were unexpected or that it was thought would be more straightforward.
Sharing care of children for example can be much more challenging than people appreciate; needing to have a level of communication with a spouse you have recently separated from, in order to organise school pick-ups and drop-offs, unexpected sick or snow days, can all lead to tensions that then spill over into the other matrimonial issues. Again, if you and your spouse can come to these arrangements between yourselves, and agree a method of communication that works for you it will minimise the work your Solicitor needs to do and again save on time and costs in the long run.
Once agreement is reached it is also important to remember to update your future planning. Often people forget to account for their new financial position once they have financially separated; updating or creating a will is something our specialists can take care of for you within our private client department. We can also recommend the appropriate people to assist with how to deal with assets or invest lump sum payments which may form part of your settlement.
This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Please contact our Family & Matrimonial Team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.