Divorce is a highly stressful time and the process can take its toll on a couple, both practically and emotionally. The end of a relationship is sad in itself, but if you add children into the mix, shared property or finances, then there’s a lot to deal with.
Many couples will rely on friends and family for support during a divorce, but it’s important to seek the right legal help too. A divorce solicitor offers many valuable services to help you navigate the process and they’ll be on your side to ensure that you get the best possible outcome. If you’re currently thinking about filing for divorce or have just begun proceedings, read on to find out more about how a divorce solicitor can help you during your separation.
Decide on grounds for divorce
Before filing for divorce, you and your partner need to agree on one of five reasons for doing so. If your partner contests the divorce or you cannot agree on the reason, you’ll need to find a lawyer. They can help you decide on which of the five facts you want to use and assist you when gathering evidence. These five reasons are known as ‘grounds for divorce’ and they are:
- Committing adultery. This occurs when one party has cheated on the other, but it can be hard to prove in court. If your partner won’t admit what happened then you’ll need to gather evidence to support your claim e.g text messages or emails.
- Unreasonable behaviour. This constitutes anything which makes you feel that you can’t continue to live with or stay married to your partner. It can cover serious offences like domestic violence or criminal charges, as well as behaviour like feeling excluded or failure for your partner to do their fair share of housework.
- This occurs when your partner leaves without your agreement, but you’ll need to prove that you didn’t want the relationship to end. You’ll also need to have lived apart for at least two years.
- Living apart for two years. This is only granted if you’ve both agreed to the divorce. You’ll need to agree that you’ve lived separate lives for at least two years, even if you still currently share a home.
- Living apart for five years. If you can prove that you’ve lived separate lives for five years or more, you can be granted a divorce even if your partner doesn’t agree.
A solicitor can also help you to negotiate who should pay the divorce fee and they can represent you in court if you’re struggling to come to an agreement.
The divorce process can involve a lot of complicated paperwork, but a divorce solicitor will be able to complete this on your behalf. They can also explain any forms or paperwork so that you understand exactly what’s happening during every stage.
You can apply for a divorce online or by post, but it’s best to seek legal help and advice either way. A solicitor can also help you obtain copies of any extra paperwork you need, like your marriage certificate. If you live in the UK as a dependent on your partner’s visa, they can also help you to apply for a new visa after your divorce is finalised.
If you and your partner are struggling to come to an agreement about grounds for divorce, custody arrangements or splitting assets, then mediation might help. A divorce solicitor can arrange for you and your partner to go to mediation to talk things through. This is often recommended as a first step so that you can try and avoid going to court.
Family law mediation is designed to sort out any disputes between you and your ex-partner, with the help of an impartial third party. It’s not the same as relationship counselling, but a mediator will listen to both points of view and help you come to an agreement. They can also suggest practical steps to make things easier for both parties to help you agree on things.
If you share children together, then negotiating custody is likely to be the most important point of contention during your divorce. Every situation is different, but family courts and solicitors will always act in the best interests of any child or children. Custody falls into two different types; legal and physical custody. Physical custody determines where the child lives and how much time they spend with each parent. Legal custody decides who has the right to make decisions about a child’s welfare and upbringing, e.g the school they attend, medical decisions and religious upbringing.
Emotions can run very high during a divorce or separation, but a family solicitor is on your side to help you negotiate the best possible solution. Family mediation can also make this easier if you’re struggling to reach an agreement (see above). Most couples will aim for some form of joint custody (this can be physical, legal or both). In some cases, one parent may have sole physical custody (with visitation rights for the other) but legal custody will be shared between both parents.
A divorce solicitor can also assist you if your ex-partner is trying to obtain sole custody and you have reason to believe this is unfair. In the majority of cases, courts will try to arrange for children to spend time with both parents, unless there’s a serious issue like abuse, substance issues or neglect.
The payment of child support is an issue that frequently arises during custody negotiations and the terms will depend on the type of custody arrangement you’ve agreed on. In most cases, the parent with less physical custody will need to make payments towards the child’s upbringing and you may need to legally pay child support even if you have no contact.
If parents can agree on the terms, they can come to a child support agreement privately, in what’s known as family-based arrangement. It’s still a good idea to seek help from a divorce solicitor during this process, especially if you can’t agree on an amount or have failed to receive due payments from your ex-partner. A solicitor can help assess child support cases and file documents, calculate the amount of child support that needs to be paid, negotiate on behalf of their clients, and protect their best interests during court proceedings.
Almost all married couples share assets, whether that’s property, financial savings, a vehicle or investments. When it comes to dividing up your shared assets, a solicitor will work to help you reach an agreement without going to court (although this may be necessary if you can’t agree). They can also explain your rights and what happens to any assets acquired by either party before the marriage.
If you signed a prenuptial agreement, this could affect how the assets are divided and what claims you have on your partner’s (or any shared) assets. Again, mediation can help with this process but if you really can’t agree, a solicitor can argue the case on your behalf in court.
Richards & Lewis – The divorce specialists in Ebbw Vale
If you’re looking for a ‘family solicitor near me’, get in touch with the professionals at Richards & Lewis. Our divorce solicitors are on hand to offer specialist advice and practical assistance to help you navigate the divorce process. We have a wealth of experience dealing with a wide range of cases and issues, including child custody arrangements, dividing assets, maintenance payments and more.
We’re on your side every step of the way, so give us a call today or submit a request online and we’ll be in touch.