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Common Mistakes in Divorce – How To Avoid Them


common mistakes in divorce

This article gives general advice in respect of issues that arise often in divorce. I will not refer to them as mistakes, as we all do things that in hindsight we would not do again!

Firstly, please remember the distinction between divorce, the legal ending of your marriage and separating finances. They go hand in hand, but they are in fact two separate processes.

No Fault Divorce

Many clients seek advice from me who are seeking justice, revenge, an opportunity to shame their spouse or sympathy from the court.

It is very important to understand that the courts do not deal with any of this.

The process for divorce has changed and there is no longer fault based divorce. There does not need to be an explanation for the breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership and there is no need to attribute blame to one party. This has made the process much less acrimonious. Unfortunately, it has left many spouses feeling that they have not been heard and the truth has not been exposed.

When it comes to resolving finances again unless it is exceptional circumstances the other parties bad behaviour such as adultery is not going to have an impact on the resolution of your finances.

The court will look to order a settlement that is fair to both parties. There are a number of factors that are taken into account. First and foremost, the housing needs of any children will be given priority.

A fair settlement is often one where both parties feel a level of disappointment with the outcome and neither party feels they have won.

Divorce is not a win or lose situation.

Divorce Online

I encourage all clients to first look at divorce online using the government website and the following link: https://www.gov.uk/divorce/file-for-divorce

If you are computer literate or have a friend or family member who is and is able to assist you, you may be able to save yourself the legal fees connected with applying for divorce by applying for yourself online.

It is still important to get advice as there is a question on that application which relates to finances. Some people believe they do not wish for a financial order however I would always advise people to tick this box. It does not instigate financial remedy proceedings, but it keeps your options open for the future.

No Binding Financial Agreement

Many people do not wish to enter into financial remedy proceedings or obtain a legally binding order in respect of their finances. Most often this is where the parties have limited assets, or you and your spouse have already dealt with your finances for example you have sold the family home and split the proceeds and divided the content of your bank account. This however leaves you open to risk and uncertainty.

If you do not enter into a legally binding agreement or obtain an order in respect of the division of your finances, you will not have a clean break or a clear black line to define the end of your financial ties.

If you come into some money in the future, there is a risk that your ex-spouse could come and ask for a share of that money or the assets that you have accrued.

Many people divide assets and cash but don’t think about pensions. Again, your ex-spouses financial situation could change, anything could happen which results in a change in their mindset and they could ask for a share of your pension despite indicating they would not want to at the time of separation.

Please take a look at our other article which considers the impact of remarriage on financial claims.

Don’t take someone’s word for it!

Unfortunately, many people feel they can trust their spouse and despite a relationship ending still place their trust in one another.

Trust is not legally binding or enforceable and many people do go back on their word. The only way to be confident in your agreement is to have it made legally binding by way of a consent order or a court determining the matter and making a final order.

Pension Valuations

Most people have little idea as to their pensions cash equivalent values. When separating finances this information is essential and can take a long time to come through. It would be sensible if you are going to see a solicitor to apply for this information at the time of separation to better assist you in valuing the assets and negotiating a fair settlement.

Contact our team today to arrange a consultation.

Roxanne Woolliams – Divorce & Family Law Solicitor

Dated: 29.11.2023

Find Roxanne on LinkedIn here

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