5 essential legal tasks to carry out during a divorce

family law image - road to divorce, rural road with divorce written on it

Going through separation and divorce is always a difficult time, but there are some things you can do which might make the process smoother. Here are the five essential tasks you need to carry out when you decide on a divorce.

The new no-fault divorce procedure removes the need to prove that the marriage has irrevocably broken down by providing evidence. Previously you would have needed to prove adultery or unreasonable behaviour to get a divorce. This heightened tensions before the divorce proceedings had even begun.

Whilst the new proceedings have streamlined areas of family law, new online tools and legal paperwork can still pose a challenge to those unused to the rigours of a separation. We’ve laid out a handy guide to help you navigate these uncharted waters, reach an agreement, and begin the next stages of your life.

  1. Check out the easy-to-use online divorce tools

On the surface, the new online divorce portal and the ability to make joint applications have made the initial divorce stages easier. However, we strongly recommend that couples do not rush into making joint applications and filling out the online forms.

There are several potholes that can cause significant financial costs and potentially drag out the proceedings. Simply ticking the wrong box can result in complexities to your case, so take your time to fully understand the paperwork. Seeking legal advice at this stage is invaluable, especially if you want to resolve matters as smoothly as possible.

The joint applications are usually more suited to those who have already resolved certain financial matters and arrangements for the children.

  1. Consider pre-divorce family mediation

Resolving financial issues and any disputes for the children are dealt with separately to the divorce application, and some issues need further applications. Be aware that before such applications can be filed, you need to consider family mediation as an alternative to court litigation. Information on the service must be sought, and a mediator will need to sign the application form to confirm that this has been given in most cases. The actual decision to try mediation is down to the individual to decide, after they have received the information.

Some disputes can also be resolved by using arbitration and private dispute resolution options.

parents facing away from each other and child in the middle for divorce

  1. Decide what’s happening with the children 

Whilst a divorce is often very hard on parents, for children it can be an extremely difficult and bewildering time. Parents are usually the best people to decide and guide their children through. You do not stop being a parent because you have separated. Communication is often difficult when parties separate.

Family mediators and solicitors can help with communication and help parents come up with a plan that works for the children. We recommend that you take advantage of the 20-week break before the second stage of the divorce to reflect and discuss the needs of your child or children with your spouse.

  1. Agree on the finances early on if you can

Calculating the shared financial pot can take up a significant portion of the divorce procedure and can lead to major disagreements. The first step is to understand the value of your matrimonial assets and draw up a list of them. The family home, for example, must be added to the list regardless of whose name it is registered in.

Bank accounts, pensions and other financial assets that have been acquired or maintained during the marriage may also need to be added to this list. Ensure you know what there is and what counts before you share them.

An equal division is the starting point, but some factors can affect this – such as the length of the marriage, health and or the contributions or needs of the party. Be aware of these and consider what might be relevant.

divorce couple fighting over money family law issues

  1. Speak to a family law professional

Having a conscientious, experienced family solicitor to help guide you through these potentially murky legal waters is invaluable. We can explain each stage of the procedure to you in a clear, concise manner, help with paperwork and mediate discussions between you and your spouse.

Gillbanks Family Law can help you to reach an amicable, cost-effective resolution to your marriage, and help you deal with any complexities or complications along the way.