Although it may sound rather cold-blooded to think about practicalities when your marriage is breaking down, divorce is stressful enough as it is. You certainly don’t want any extra problems, so you owe it to yourself to get everything in order. As soon as things look as if they’ve reached the point of no return, you need to seriously consider the following.
1. Get a good divorce solicitor
Divorce can be a legal minefield and you need an expert to guide you through it. Good divorce solicitors will help you to understand your rights and responsibilities, and will work with you to get the best settlement possible.
2. Think about your children’s best interests
Divorce can hit children particularly hard. Sadly, this is sometimes compounded by their parents using them as bargaining chips in a rather cruel game of one-upmanship. Decisions about custody and access are always distressing, but most parents will want to put their children’s best interests first. Pay serious attention to these decisions, as the rights of your children will have a major impact on your divorce settlement as a whole.
3. Divide up your assets – and your debts
It’s surprising just how many joint assets you can accumulate over the course of a marriage. What happens to the contents of joint bank and savings accounts when you divorce? How will you divide pensions benefits, share dividends, insurances and so on? These will all form part of the divorce settlement. Likewise, who is responsible for any debts you might have? Did you run them up together, or are they down to one person?
4. Think about your credit rating
Following on from the above, take steps to ensure that your personal credit rating isn’t affected by your divorce. This might sound heartless, but it’s surprising how many people suddenly find themselves downgraded because their ex-partner has gone on a spree with a joint credit card that hasn’t been cancelled. Make sure all joint finances are transferred into sole names at the earliest opportunity.
5. Make sure you know what’s happening with your house
The marital home is likely to be the biggest asset you share between you, so make sure you know what happens to it after the divorce. Will you sell it and split the proceeds? If so, in what ratio will those proceeds be split? If one partner remains in the house, will they need to buy out the other’s share? Again, decisions like this can be difficult, but they have to be made in order to avoid lasting stress, uncertainty and bitterness.
Make sure you find a divorce lawyer who is not only a specialist but one who you find it easy to talk to. The best way course of finding a good family solicitor is recommendation – but it’s also really important to look at the firm’s website – you get a good idea of the kind of law firm from their website. Also, if you think that you or your partner are likely to be able to agree things in a friendly fashion – do look into the possibility of collaborative law or family mediation. Our family law team includes both 2 qualified collaborative lawyers and a jointly trained family mediator/lawyer– and don’t forget that all of our divorce lawyers offer a free first 30 minute interview.