Separating or divorcing can be very difficult no matter what the reason for it. It is of course normal to feel sad, angry, frustrated and indeed confused. You will feel anxious regarding what the future will hold but this is all perfectly normal as venturing into the unknown is frightening. The below are just a few pointers to help you navigate through the initial stages of the Separation.
- Children – you must co-parent your children with your ex-spouse. This is a separate and new relationship with your ex-spouse. Your ex-spouse should now be seen as a business partner. You should endeavour to be courteous in all dealings with him/her in respect of your children. Neither of you should bad mouth the other in front of the children or on Social Media etc. It will take time to get used to this new dynamic but if both you and your ex-spouse agree and embrace this new relationship then it will make discussing issues in respect of the children that much easier.
- Living Arrangements – the parties will need to agree whether they stay in the same property until all issues between them have been agreed or in the alternative, one of the parties move out into a rental property. Of course, it is not always financially viable for one of the parties to move out of the family home so in the majority of cases parties end up living under the same roof until some type of resolution has been agreed between them.
- Finances – it would be advisable for the parties to open separate Bank Accounts unless there is an agreement to lodge a certain portion of their income into an existing Joint Account to continue to pay the Mortgage and/or household bills until an Agreement has been reached. If there are a number of Joint Accounts, particularly with savings, it is important to keep an eye on these Accounts on a regular basis so that neither party unilaterally decides to withdraw monies without the agreement of the other.
- Psychological Support. As already indicated, it is important to ascertain if some psychological support is required. Solicitors are very good with dealing with the legal aspects of a Separation but obviously, do not have the qualifications to deal with any psychological sequalae. Psychological support can assist moving forward and can assist you in ascertaining what outcomes you can aim for.
- Legal Advice: It is important to seek preliminary legal advice as soon as possible. Every marriage is different, and every marriage has a different set of financial circumstances to decipher.
It is also advisable to make a list of the following:
When listing Assets, you need to list all properties, bank accounts, shares, motor vehicles etc. Under Liabilities, you would include Mortgage, loans etc. Your income and outgoings are self-explanatory. It is advisable to have a good look at what you are actually paying out from your salary on a weekly or monthly basis so that you can ascertain how you will manage going forward. If you are a member of a Pension Scheme, you should requisition a Pension Benefit Statement from the Pension Trustees. If you do not already have your original Marriage Certificate, you should obtain one from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
In relation to vouching documentation for your Affidavit of Means, you should requisition Bank Statements for one year in relation to all Bank Accounts, Credit Cards etc that you hold. You should obtain the last 3 years’ Employment Summaries and you should have some idea of the Valuation of your property/properties as you can obtain formal Valuations down the road. Most of the above documentation will be requested by your Solicitor at the outset.
Some other useful information to your Solicitor is a Marriage History. This is simply a synopsis of the marriage focusing mainly on the financial circumstances of the parties and the financial dynamic during the marriage.
The majority of cases will usually be compromised by the parties in advance of any Court hearing. In most cases, Divorce proceedings may have to be issued and served on the other party but invariably a settlement meeting will be arranged to endeavour to finalise all issues between the parties. The above information is essential in advance of any such meeting.
It is important that you deal with your situation one day at a time as it can be overwhelming. A Solicitor will be in a position to guide you through the process, relieving you of some of the stress and ensuring that the matter is finalised as soon as possible.
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