Since April 2022 the law in relation to obtaining a divorce in England and Wales has changed. This is the first change in 50 years. We now have the “no fault divorce” which simplifies the process. The application is made online by completing a form and ticking a box to state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The process is straightforward, and some now choose to submit the application without the assistance of a solicitor.
You may therefore ask why would I need a solicitor?
It is always sensible to seek specialist advice regarding children and finances. Obtaining a divorce is an emotional time of change and having some guidance about what is fair in relation to your children and finances can be crucial. Getting advice early on may prevent you taking an action that could prejudice you further down the line.
If you think you have reached an agreement with your spouse a solicitor can make sure it is in your best interests and is fair. Many people believe an equal division of assets is inevitable but that is not always the case. The law considers the needs of you and your children and tries to achieve fairness. Issues such as earning capacity, mortgage capacity, contributions, age, length of marriage and health all play a part in reaching a fair division of assets.
The reasons to seek advice are many and include:
- If there are business assets or trusts.
- If there is an imbalance of bargaining power between you and your spouse.
- If you do not know the extent of your spouse’s assets and you think they may be being dishonest about assets or hiding them.
- If the situation is becoming acrimonious.
- If there are pensions. When negotiating an agreement many people forget about pensions. Pensions on divorce are a complex but important issue. Aside from the matrimonial home they are often the largest asset owned by a couple and knowing your options is very important.
- If you have inherited assets. There are circumstances when you may be able to ringfence an inheritance and keep it from your spouse.
- If significant assets are at stake, it is extremely important to obtain legal advice.
- If your spouse does not acknowledge the divorce proceedings, then a solicitor may be required to progress the divorce. Many solicitors will charge a fixed fee to obtain the divorce for you and some people find it easier and less stressful to hand everything over to a solicitor.
- In the long run having a solicitor can save time and avoid you ending up in Court.
- If a stalemate is reached in negotiations with a spouse a solicitor can help to break that deadlock and avoid the whole agreement breaking down and the matter ending up in Court.
- A solicitor can take the stress out of the situation for you. If you have a solicitor they receive all communications from the Court and your spouse or their solicitor and your solicitor can act as a buffer and filter the information and explain it to you as soon as it is received.
- Children are often a particularly emotive subject and getting some input from an impartial third party can be essential.
Even if you have reached a fair agreement with your spouse regarding financial matters, to make it legally binding and to avoid one party reneging on it and making a claim in the future you should have the agreement made into a Consent Order by the Court. This would entail a solicitor drafting your agreement into a Court Order which is sent to the Court to approve on the paperwork alone so no attendance at Court is required.
The law is complicated, and an experienced solicitor can guide you through your options. The solicitor can be involved as much or as little as you need. Many people have an initial consultation to get some idea of what is fair and can then go away and reach an agreement with their spouse whether by direct conversations or in mediation and then return to the solicitor to have any agreement made into a Consent order. The service offered by a solicitor can be tailored to meet your needs and financial resources.
CWJ’s team of family solicitors are committed to resolving family disputes in a sensitive, constructive, and cost effective way. For family law advice, please contact Alison Hall on 01689 887887 or email firstname.lastname@example.org