Anyone going through a divorce and doubting the wisdom of using the services of a divorce solicitor should consider this; ending a marriage involves quite a completed legal process and without specialist legal advice and representation from an experienced family law solicitor, could have a detrimental effect on your life – not to mention your finances.
So what is the legal process? The first is the divorce itself – the legal ending of the marriage. This will leave and your spouse free to marry again sometime in the future. The marriage is formally ended with Decree Absolute. This can be granted six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi [which is, in effect, the provisional or conditional divorce]. However, if there are finances involved and if they are not resolved at this stage, it is common for solicitors to advise a delay in applying for decree absolute – doing so prematurely can create problems, if for example, one spouse with substantial pension provision was to die after decree absolute, but before any financial settlement was reached, and approved in a court order. Applying for decree absolute prematurely in this case could mean one spouse loses out entirely on the right to share in that pension
It should be understood that when the Decree Nisi is granted the marriage is not yet legally ended. It is the Decree Absolute which, in fact, legally ends the marriage. It is usually applied for by the person seeking the divorce – the petitioner. However, if the decree absolute is not applied for in due course, the respondent – or the spouse being divorced – can apply for it in due course.
As can be seen, getting divorced is quite complex and that is one of the reasons why spirits divorce solicitors should be consulted. There are also other reasons why it makes sound common sense to see a divorce solicitor. One of these is related to the children from the marriage.
The welfare of children following a divorce is “paramount”- that’s made perfectly clear by the Children Act, which is the legislation governing courts in England and Wales when it comes to dealing with children. When a divorce petition is put before the courts, if there are minor children, the divorce petition must be accompanied by a second document called the ‘Statement of Arrangements for Children’. ‘This Statement of Arrangements for Children form sets out details about the children and the proposals for their residence and contact [as visitation and custody are now called]. It should be understood that the Statement of Arrangements is not a binding contract between the two spouses; it is simply to inform the court of the situation relating to the children. However, it is still advisable to consult with divorce solicitors when it is being drawn up – because the court doesn’t just rubber stamp whatever proposals are contained in the Statement of Arrangements for Children. Although it is relatively unusual, if the court is not satisfied with the proposed arrangements, the court can require both parents to attend a court to explain the position and, if necessary, the family court has the power to order an independent report from a court reporting officer from CAFCASS about the children and what is best for their welfare.
Another part of the process is the Ancillary Relief Divorce Proceedings. This is in most cases, the bone of contention for both divorcing parties because it involves the division of assets from the marriage, transfer of property [including any pension either party may be entitled to] and maintenance payments for any children of the marriage. In such circumstances good legal advice, such as that provided by a specialist and experienced divorce solicitor, is absolutely vital.
Even if the couple made what is known as a ‘pre-nuptial agreement’ it should be understood that the courts have no obligation to enforce it in England and Wales – although there are signs that courts are becoming a little bit more sympathetic to the idea of the pre-nup and are beginning to take such pre-nups into account in any division of the family’s financial assets upon divorce.
Tim Bishop is a qualified divorce solicitor who understands that divorce is an unsettling time that is hard for both parties. Divorce is a legal process which can be very complex. If getting divorced it is advisable to contact a divorce solicitor. If you require more information, call the divorce solicitors for a no obligation quotation.