What Do I Need To Know About Divorce?

Making the very difficult decision to get a divorce from your spouse is one which will take time.

It is crucial therefore that you know where you stand and what your rights are before you make any firm decisions and to learn as much about the process as possible.

1. On what grounds can I get divorced?

There are five different grounds for divorce in England and Wales (the law is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland). These are:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • You’ve been separated and lived apart for 2 years and you both agree to the divorce
  • You’ve been separated and lived apart for 5 years, even if your spouse will not consent to the divorce

You must also have been married for a year before you can commence divorce proceedings

2. How do I deal with custody of our children?

You will ideally agree on the details of the custody of your children amicably with your spouse before the divorce petition is sent to the court because the Statement of Arrangements for the Children needs to be sent along with the divorce petition. The court needs to be persuaded that the arrangements you put in place are in the best interests of your children. If you are struggling to be amicable, there is the opportunity for you to and your spouse to get a mediator involved to resolve these issues, but not being able to agree does not mean that you cannot divorce. It simply means that you may need to address the custody issues separately.

3. How is the financial settlement worked out?

Each divorce is different and as it is really important to achieve the best settlement possible for you and your children, speaking with a specialist family solicitor will help you to ensure you get sound legal advice on this important area of divorce. There are a number of factors that will be considered before the most common settlement of a monthly maintenance figure will probably be agreed. You should try to work through any contentious issues with a mediator if necessary and try to agree the financial settlement before court.

4. Will I have to go to court?

If your divorce is contested (your spouse does not agree with the divorce) then you will have to go to court and possibly attend a court hearing alongside your spouse. However, if neither of you contest the divorce you will not have to attend court. All paperwork, including your divorce petition and your applications for a decree nisi and decree absolute will go through the court.

If you decide that a divorce is the route you want to take, you should seek advice from a family law solicitor to ensure that you are fully aware about what your divorce will mean for you and your family.

This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.

Shak Inayat
Solicitor
0207 183 2898

How Should I Look After My Will?

Making a Last Will and Testament is one of the most important things you will ever do. It will give you control over what happens to your estate once you die and in addition, it provides legal protection for your loved ones.

However it is not as simple as making your Will, putting it in the cupboard and forgetting all about it. If you do take this approach, you may find that by the time you die your Will is completely out of date and could exclude loved ones you wanted to inherit from your estate and perhaps worse still include those you didn’t.

Therefore, it is hugely important to understand how to take care of your Will, so that by the time you die it still reflects your wishes.

The first common mistake once a Will has been made is that it gets put into a cupboard and forgotten about. If you have not told anyone that you have made a Will this can cause serious problems in the future.

If your Will isn’t found, you will be deemed to have died intestate, which means that your estate is divided up by the law of intestacy, with no reference to your own wishes. Therefore, when you make a Will, it is important to tell people close to you that you have made a Will and also where it is stored.

You should also consider where to store your Will so that it is safe. A solicitor could store a copy of your Will at their offices, often in a safe able to withstand any fire or flood risks. You could also retain a copy of the Will at home, but bearing in mind the complications mentioned above, it is not advisable to store the original copy at your home.

Once your Will has been made, it is important to keep it up to date, particularly if you get married, divorced or have children. In all of these circumstances, there are real implications to not updating your Will, such as an ex-spouse inheriting all of your estate when she has already remarried. This can and does happen, so keeping your Will up to date is critical. This can be done quickly and simply with a codicil for small updates, or for some of the larger life events it may be necessary to make a new Will. Your solicitor will usually gladly discuss any changes to your circumstances over the telephone and advise you whether your Will needs updating.

What is crucial with updates and new Wills is that they remain valid in the eyes of the law. Any invalid changes may make the Will void, meaning again that you will be classed as dying intestate.

One thing is certain, you should treat your Will with care and respect and not just forget about it, as this could cause significant repercussions after your death.

This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.

Shak Inayat
Solicitor
0207 183 2898