There are certain protocols that the court expects to be observed as you start the divorce process. When you instruct a solicitor to issue divorce proceedings, one of the first things that will happen is that they will contact your ex-partner or their solicitor, to advise them of your intention to issue a petition for divorce. Unless there are exceptional reasons why this should not happen, the court will disapprove if you don’t do this at least seven days before you issue the petition.
You might be worried that if your ex-partner learns what you intend to do, they might go ahead and issue proceedings themselves before you’ve had chance. But they should follow the same protocols, and the court would be equally disapproving if they jumped in ahead of you. It will not be in your favour if you give the judge a poor impression of you and your behaviour; likewise it wouldn’t help your partner’s case if they held those protocols in contempt either.
The other communication that the court expects between you and your ex-partner at the beginning of the process is for you (or your solicitor) to provide them (or their solicitors) with the facts on which you are asking for a divorce. This helps to prevent any early misunderstandings. If your grounds for divorce are based on the unreasonable behaviour of your ex-partner, the petition can be difficult and upsetting for you to complete, and equally difficult and upsetting for your ex-partner to read. Providing a draft copy of the divorce petition (and even better, if it’s possible, drawing up the draft together) can help to minimise the confrontation and bitterness that often result.
Divorce is undoubtedly a painful process but if you can manage to keep open the lines of communication, you are likely to get through it more swiftly, and hopefully with an outcome that is acceptable to you both. As you both move on through the process, you might find that if you can talk to each other, you can reach an agreement between yourselves through mediation or collaboration, without the court having to impose a ruling upon you. It’s always advisable to take legal advice before committing to any such agreement. Getting a solicitor involved does not necessarily mean taking a confrontational approach; check out solicitors like Andrew Isaacs Solicitors, who have training in collaboration, and who will help you though the negotiation process. For more information, or for help on any other aspect of your divorce, contact us.