- Do as much of your own research on the law that affects your rights and responsibilities upon separation/divorce – with the World Wide Web at most people’s fingers tips – this should be relatively easy!
- Where access to the internet is limited or not available – you can get a lot free information from Law Centres, Citizens’ Advice Centres, or from other similar not for profit organisations in your locality, make sure you are clued up!!
- Typically, for married couples/civil partners, you will need to know how to dissolve your marriage/civil partnership and the main factors that the Court will take into account when considering the terms of a financial settlement under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
- For unmarried couples the law is more complex and will be governed by trust law principles and the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustee Act.
- When looking at children’s arrangements you will need to be familiar with Children Act 1989 and the factors that the Court will take into account when considering what arrangements will be in the best interests of your child. You can find useful guides on the cafcass website here.
- Know that all solicitors/legal advisors work from the same hymn sheet and are governed by same law, and so in the usual run of cases where there are simply not enough capital and/or income resources to sustain the same level of living standards that you had when you were a couple, there will be little scope for creative legal arguments as ‘needs will trump all’ in every such case.
- Take stock of your personal circumstances – create your own schedule of assets/liabilities/incomes/budgets to compare your financial positions and make sure this is undertaken on an open and transparent basis with both of you having had the benefit of either considering supporting documents so that there is no doubt about the information on the schedule or you may waive the right to exchange financial information if you both have had full first-hand knowledge/access to the information and there is no doubt or concern about the same.
- Make sure you look after your health and emotional /psychological well-being. Going through a separation/Divorce will probably be one of your most difficult life challenges. Some separating couples have described it as ‘a living bereavement’ and have stated that it was harder to cope with than an actual bereavement of a close family member/friend. Take all the help and support that you can. Not only from family members and friends but most importantly, from other professionals who are qualified and trained to help you at this time of emotional crisis. For example, your GP maybe able to prescribe short-term medication to help with any feelings of low-esteem and he/she may refer you to a specialist Counsellor/Therapist to give you more support. Visit Relate website for more information.
Visit the legal Information Hub on my website to get started and please give serious consideration to family mediation in the even that you cannot reach your own direct agreements. This will serve you, your ex-partner and most importantly, your children well. It is the least self-destructive way of resolving family disputes and reaching resolutions, allowing you the freedom to move on to a brighter, happier and stress free future.