By Caroline Keeley
When people are faced with the prospect of separation and divorce, the best thing they can do is to seek early advice. Often, this will be the first time they have faced such a situation and many end up relying on the anecdotes of friends and family who have already been ‘stung’ going through the process. This can be risky advice to rely on, particularly as one size certainly does not fit all.
England is renowned as being the divorce capital of the world. This is no doubt due to the huge discretion that our system employs to determine each case on its own facts and merits. There is no set formula to apply for parties divorcing in this country, which means the outcome can be quite uncertain. It also means that someone’s objectives can be unreasonable or even unachievable without the right advice. Knowing what can or cannot be done from the outset helps to set appropriate expectations.
Seeking early legal advice is essential, not only to explain the process and options ahead, but also to give confidence in those early discussions that will need to take place in relation to family arrangements and financial implications. Many will be reluctant to instruct professionals for genuine concerns about costs, but it is much more cost-effective to get early advice about what can and cannot be achieved, and the pros and cons of different arrangements, whether that be dealing with property, pensions, savings or debts. People also need to be advised about the potential tax consequences (or savings) of particular actions, and without appropriate advice, you might find that you have missed opportunities which have financial repercussions.
Despite what you might hear in the press, divorce proceedings do not need to be contentious and miserable. There are many ways to resolve arrangements for finances and children in an amicable fashion, with parties working together, not against each other. It is important that you receive legal advice about your rights and responsibilities, but then discussions as to the resolution of those issues can take place through mediation, discussions between you direct, collaborative law or round table meetings between you both and your respective lawyers.
So, while the notion of divorce and separation is daunting, being forewarned is being forearmed and will give you the confidence to make the best decisions going forwards. If you are thinking about a potential separation, or your partner has told you they wish to separate, then at TWM we have specialist family solicitors across our offices in Surrey and London who can assist you with confidential advice.
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