Is divorce in the air for the New Year?
Not the most festive of thoughts, perhaps. But as 2012 takes hold, divorce or separation
might be a reality that needs to be faced by many families, married couples and civil partnerships.
If putting your personal affairs in order for the New Year means finally laying to rest marital problems that have become insoluble, you have 3 most likely options: a legal separation
, a 'traditional' court-guided divorce
, or the newer approach to divorce offered by the collaborative family law service.
But what, briefly, are the differences? And what do the choices entail?
If you are separated and you need legal help with finances without the worries of divorce, you might want to consider legal (or judicial) separation
or entering into a separation agreement.
Separation buys you time. It gives you an opportunity to make up your mind whether you really want to finish your marriage or civil partnership. If you choose to have a separation agreement
drawn up or a financial order is made, this can hasten things if you do finally decide on divorce.
As well as avoiding any religious implications – some faiths frown on the idea of divorce – legal separation
could make sense if you've been married for only a relatively short time as it is not possible to commence divorce proceedings during the first year of marriage.
A separation agreement
can deal with financial arrangements in the short and long term and can also deal with matters relating to children. In relation to financial matters, if there has been full and frank financial disclosure between the parties, both have had the opportunity to take legal advice
and neither party has been pit under pressure to sign the agreement then that agreement will be upheld in any future divorce and financial remedy proceedings.
But what if your marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down
? For the long-term good of everyone – which could include children and relatives – divorce might be the only way to finally resolve matters.
Taking such a giant step is obviously stressful. But once you've decided that your marriage can't be saved, you should act as quickly as possible.
There are bound to be a number of hurdles, especially if children are involved or your spouse is against the whole idea of divorce
. And although the process is theoretically manageable by both parties, a good, specialist divorce lawyer can be an invaluable resource who'll save everyone a great deal of heartache later on.
There will be complex financial matters to consider where specialist advice and representation will ensure your and your children’s financial needs are met to provide you with security for the future.
A third option is the collaborative family law service. This new approach, manages the divorce process for all parties in as dignified and professional a manner as possible.
During the collaborative process, family solicitors and their clients agree, in writing, to arrive at a settlement without court involvement and to work together to resolve any related family and financial issues.
If you and your former partner want to reduce the pain of family breakdowns, the collaborative option undoubtedly offers an alternative way forward. You'll meet with your former partner and your solicitors in the same room, working face-to-face through the relevant issues in a civil, responsible manner. You can each better manage the whole process, reaching shared solutions and agreements away from dispiriting delays and the hothouse atmosphere of a court.
But whichever route you decide, remember there are seasoned, specialist and, above all, sympathetic professionals out there to help get you through this trying time.