The beginning of January sparks a surge in divorce enquiries so we decided to ask our specialist divorce lawyers, what steps you need to take first if you have decided to get a divorce or separate after a long-term relationship.
The top 5 are below.
Take a step back
First, take a step. Is the marriage irreparable? Have you tried couple counselling? Christmas is a mix of happiness and tension so if emotions have run away over the festive season make sure you take stock and think through your decision. It will affect the rest of your life.
Find your marriage certificate
If you decide that divorce is the right thing for you then the first step is to find your marriage certificate. You will need this to start divorce proceedings. And it cannot be a photocopy. Don’t panic if you cannot find it. You can order a replacement online here.
Prioritise the children
Put the children first and be mindful of them in every decision you make. Even though the relationship has broken down you will still need to co-parent and work with your partner. This will be so much easier if where possible, you are amicable. Try to not lose sight of this if tensions flare.
Get your finances in order
To work out an equal split of finances and assets you need to have a clear picture of the marital pot. Make a list of assets, liabilities and income (earnings, property values, mortgage, loans, credit and store cards, savings and pensions) as best you and gather together all the relevant paperwork.
You will need all of this information to complete Form E, which requires you to set out a full financial disclosure of all assets and financial resources so it is worth pulling it together now.
Consult a divorce lawyer
Every case is different, so the best advice is to get professional legal advice as soon as you can. It is important that you make the call and make an appointment.
Planning for your meeting will help you feel prepared for that first meeting. You will feel anxious but having a clear idea about what information you need and questions to ask will help you feel more in control.
Think about your journey times, where to park etc so you are not rushing. We always recommend that you do not bring your children. Any paperwork that you can gather and take with you is helpful and will help the case to progress quickly. The work that you undertook in step 4 will ensure you are ahead of the process in your first meeting.
Divorce is never easy and there is no magic solution so make sure you get the support that you need. Counselling and divorce coaching are both great tools to help you manage the anxiety and stress it can cause. Be mindful of your needs and the children’s needs and where possible, prepare and plan. Compromise also goes a long way.
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Author: Stowe Family Law