Your first meeting with a family solicitor can be a daunting experience, whether you require advice about divorce/dissolution of a civil partnership, arrangements concerning your children, a prenuptial agreement, and/or domestic abuse. Most, if not all people, would never have anticipated having to take legal advice on such personal issues. It can be a very emotional time and it can be difficult to know what to expect.
In April 2022, ‘No Fault Divorce’ was introduced in England and Wales, to remove from the law, the requirement to blame the other spouse in order to prove that a marriage has irretrievably broken down. The statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, is now sufficient, without the need to support it with examples of unreasonable behaviour, or adultery. The purpose of this change in the law was partly to remove an element that often caused increased conflict between spouses/civil partners, at a time which may already be very difficult.
If you are considering divorce, then you will likely also require advice regarding your options on how to deal with the assets and/or debts that you and your spouse/civil partner have. In order to be able to advise you in relation to divorce and the financial element of divorce, your family solicitor will need key names and dates from you (including the date of marriage, date of separation, dates of birth, of you and your family), as well as information about what assets you have (for example your family home), who owns what, and whether there are any debts. Some clients may prefer to make a note of these background facts so that they can easily refer to them in a first meeting, particularly as there can be a lot of information provided by your solicitor at this meeting.
Once your family solicitor has the information you are able to give them, they can advise you of the options you could choose to take as a next step. These options will likely depend on factors such as how amicable you and your spouse/civil partner are, if there are any other issues including those relating to any children of the family, whether there is any issue of domestic abuse, and the likely costs of those options for you. This should enable you to weigh up the risk and approximate cost of proceeding in different ways. It should also provide you with a clearer picture of how the process of divorce might look for you.
If you would like advice about difficulties you are experiencing in relation to the arrangements for your children, your family solicitor is likely to need details as to any agreement which has been in place relating to the children, historically, for example in relation to their care arrangements or specific issues such as schooling. It is important that you voice any concerns that you have about the welfare of the children, including any issues regarding how safe they are when in the care of the other parent. If your family solicitor has a full picture of the circumstances, they are able to better guide you towards options which may be suitable for you to take to try and resolve matters.
At Birketts, all of the legal professionals in our Family Team, are members of Resolution, a national organisation of family justice professionals, committed to resolving disputes in a calm, constructive and cost-effective way, which focusses on the needs of the family as a whole. Our lawyers tailor their advice to your specific circumstances, so that you can have greater clarity at such an uncertain and emotional time of your life.
If you have any questions or would like any further advice about divorce and your legal position when going through this process, please contact Molly Barker or another member of the Birketts’ Family Team.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at June 2022.