Susan Davies, head of family law at Staffordshire solicitors Ansons, gives some valuable advice to anyone currently considering divorce.
- Make sure divorce is what you want. Get support from family and friends if you can and understand that the process will be emotionally tough, but it will get easier.
- Try and sort out the arrangements as to where your children will live and when they will see the other parent. Do not use the children to punish your spouse; it may be the children who suffer in the end.
- Try and talk to your spouse as much as possible to agree arrangements for the children and a broad idea on how you want to deal with financial matters. This can make the divorce process easier.
- Consider mediation to help you reach a compromise.
- There is no such thing as a “quickie divorce”. The usual timescale for any divorce is about 5-6 months, although they can take longer. Sorting out the financial aspects of the divorce can take even longer.
- Choose your family solicitor wisely. Those who are members of Resolution follow a code of practice that should encourage you to resolve your divorce as quickly and amicably as possible without confrontation. Some solicitors will offer an initial interview for a fixed fee. It could be wise to use this to obtain some basic information and decide whether or not the solicitor you see is right for you.
- Be prepared. You will need to provide your solicitor with a lot of information and documentation including your marriage certificate and some ID in the form of a passport or driving licence and a recent utility bill. You will also need to provide details of bank and building society accounts, properties, shares, savings and salaries. A list of debts and outgoings would also be useful. Your solicitor will be able to obtain your spouse's information during the divorce process.
- Act quickly if you think your spouse may try and spend money or sell or transfer assets to prevent you from claiming against them. If appropriate your solicitor can start court proceedings to freeze assets if they are at risk.
There will be solicitors' costs and court fees to pay. The overall costs will depend upon how quickly an agreement is reached and the kind of assets involved. If there is a property, business or pensions, these may have to be valued and will therefore attract a fee. Many solicitors will accept standing orders on a weekly or monthly basis and this can help you budget for the fees.
For further information, please contact Susan Davies of Ansons on 01543 263456 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ansonsllp.com