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Divorce: What are your options?

After the hustle and bustle of the festive season many people will have made New Years’ resolutions and will be thinking about getting fit and healthy or considering what changes they are going to make for the New Year. But for some this will mean making difficult decisions about their relationship.  

When a marriage or partnership breaks down it can be one of the most traumatic and emotional times in a person’s life. It can be difficult to know where to begin and there may be many unanswered questions emotionally and practically. Many people considering a divorce are concerned how it will affect their children, finances and home and are unsure what options they have or how the divorce process works. Jane Tatlock, Family Law Solicitor at Hegarty Solicitors explains the options available.

Divorce Proceedings

After one year of marriage either spouse may start divorce proceedings. There is only one legal ground for divorce “the marriage has broken down irretrievably”. The facts they can rely upon are “Adultery” or allegations of “unreasonable behaviour” against a spouse. The alternative is waiting between 2 or 5 years before being able to issue for a divorce based upon separation for the same length of time.

People often ask how long a divorce will take but this is a very difficult question to answer as so much depends on the circumstances of the individuals involved; such as whether agreements can be reached regarding finances and children. The overall timescale for a divorce can be anything from 4 to 12 months or more.

We can discuss likely timescales and the options available at an initial meeting where you can talk to one of our highly qualified solicitors for initial advice about your case for just £100 + VAT.

No Fault Divorce

At present, it is not possible to obtain a “no fault divorce” within the UK, however, following a government consultation which ended in December 2018, proposals are under way to make the divorce process less confrontational.

There are however a number of ways to make the divorce process less costly and to help resolve issues amicably out of court by using Resolution accredited or Collaboratively trained lawyers.

Finding a Resolution

Resolution is a family law association which promotes a non-confrontational approach to resolving family problems. Members sign up to codes of conduct which requires they conduct matters in a constructive and non-confrontational manner to reach a resolution.

Solicitors who have acquired specialist accreditation with Resolution will have shown they have experience, knowledge and demonstrative skills in family law.

Many of our family solicitors are Resolution accredited.

The Collaborative Approach

The Collaborative process is an alternative to the traditional process and eliminates the need to go to court, which can be a lengthy and emotive experience. Using the collaborative approach, each party appoints a collaboratively trained lawyer and through a number of face to face meetings the lawyers and parties discuss matters arising out of their separation and how those matters may be resolved.

Parties are encouraged to sign a ‘Participation Agreement’ to agree in writing to try and reach a reasonable settlement without going to court.

The advantage of the collaborative approach is that it gives couples the opportunity to reach agreement through discussion rather than conflict and means they retain control over their future.

Even if the parties decide that the Collaborative process is not for them, adopting a less adversarial approach is usually preferable and can help the parties go forward in a positive way and save on a potentially very expensive legal process.

Online Divorce

The Ministry of Justice launched an online divorce service last year which allows couples to file for a divorce online without the need for a solicitor. However, it does not have to be an ‘either or’ scenario. Having taken legal advice at an early stage, you may well decide that you are able to proceed with the divorce yourself.

However, it is important to be aware that the online divorce service will only bring about an end to your Marriage/Civil Partnership, it will not deal with issues relating to your assets or finances, nor will it deal with the arrangements for any children. If you need to come to an agreement on issues such as who your children will live with and who will have ownership of the shared property or assets, a solicitors can inform you about your rights, and present all of the options that are available in relation to finances and children.

Jane Tatlock is a collaboratively trained family solicitor and has over 20 years’ experience in family law. Jane is also a member of Resolution. To speak to Jane about your situation or to arrange a fixed fee initial meeting for just £100+VAT call 01733 295 619 or email jane.tatlock@hegarty.co.uk.

Visit www.hegarty.co.uk/family for more information about how we can help if you are considering divorce.

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