After couples spent more than a year being cooped up in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is perhaps unsurprising that there has been an increase in enquiries from spouses who are wanting to split from their partners.
However, making the decision to divorce is not one that should be made lightly. It is crucial to think through and obtain legal advice from the outset, so that you are prepared for the proceedings before initiating.
Whether amicable or acrimonious, going through a divorce is a stressful time that can cause conflict between both parties if not properly managed and prepared for. That’s why preparation is key when it comes to these kinds of proceedings, to ensure as smooth a transition as possible into the next chapter of your life.
Understand your financial situation
Alongside the divorce, one of the important things you will need to consider is the distribution of the financial assets. Therefore, estimating the value of the marital pot will help to give you an idea of what you may be entitled to as the court’s starting point is an equal sharing of matrimonial assets.
The court has discretion to depart from equality and this is determined by numerous factors. We’d always recommend keeping a budget of your income and expenses, because this documentation may be required when determining the amount of maintenance that may be awarded.
Collate the paperwork
We understand that the sheer volume of paperwork required for divorce can seem overwhelming, which is why we recommend gathering all the relevant information as your first port of call. Doing this at an early date will save a lot of time moving forward and vastly aid in your preparation.
Some of the documents you need to ensure you have are statements and/or evidence for:
- All bank and building society accounts
- Credit cards
- Title information
It’s also beneficial to have your most recent P60 and pay slips if you’re employed, or two years of accounts if you’re self-employed.
Look to the future
It can be very easy to get bogged down in the present and focus only on the current proceedings. However, it’s incredibly important to try and provide for yourself and any children after your divorce, so you may want to consider further training or a change of job to improve your position.
While the court can make an order in providing you with maintenance, it also has a duty to consider the financial independence of both parties moving forwards.
Document your valuables
We would also advise our clients to keep a full record of possessions, with photographs if possible – this includes the contents of your house, vehicles– as, if anything goes missing, this provides proof of its existence. If you have particular concerns that your spouse may damage or take your belongings during proceedings, you may also consider storing valuable items and documents elsewhere for safety.
Don’t act in haste
It can be tempting to move out of the marital home, but any decision of this magnitude should only be made once legal advice has been sought. Once the decision to move out has been made, going back on that choice can often be far more difficult and could also have an adverse effect on finances or the relationship with your children, if you have any.
Seek expert advice
As previously mentioned, the most important thing to do before going through a divorce is to seek legal advice. Having a solicitor put a strategy in place to help you navigate your way through proceedings will drastically ease stress during what we know can be an overwhelming and stressful time.
Solicitors can also help to give you a good indication of where you stand and how divorce will affect you financially. Every case is different, and it’s important you seek advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
About Rupa Parekh
Rupa Parekh qualified as a solicitor in 2017 and joined Nelsons’ family law team in October 2020.
She specialises in divorce and financial settlements, with an expertise in civil partnership dissolution, pre-nuptial, post-nuptial and separation agreements. She also advises on various disputes concerning children and domestic violence, specifically complex high net worth cases.
For more support when it comes to divorce and separation or any other aspect of family law, please visit nelsonslaw.co.uk.