Whether you are using a solicitor or lay person trying to manage the divorce process yourself, it helps to know what’s involved in the divorce process.
- the divorce itself – i.e. bringing the marriage to an end;
- agreeing a financial settlement;
- childcare arrangements, including where children will live and any child maintenance payments
These three different aspects of divorce do not necessarily have to be dealt with at the same time.
All court proceedings relating to divorce, including financial or childcare issues, are dealt with by the Family Court.
The Family Court has several regional divorce centres around the country. Divorce centres can deal with routine aspects of divorce – for example, the divorce process itself when this is not contested.
Contested applications and cases where a hearing is required can be dealt with at more local Family Courts.
If you are getting divorced, one of the first things you will need to decide is whether you need a divorce solicitor.
Whilst you can reduce the costs, time and confrontation by agreeing as much as possible between yourselves, it would always be beneficial to seek legal advice before you enter in to those discussions to ascertain what your rights are, inevitably you will take that information away with you to try to reach an agreement between yourselves.
In terms of the divorce itself, the court has to be involved. Starting with the divorce petition, the process involves several stages of divorce paperwork to bring the marriage to an end. Provided that you have agreed the details between yourselves, the divorce process fairly straightforward and should take about 3-6 months depending on the courts processing times. You do not normally need to go to the court in person.
If you can agree a financial settlement between yourselves, you can ask the Family Court to approve a consent order – making what you have agreed legally binding and final. This is usually a better approach than arguing it out in court and asking the Judge to decide.
We would always advise you to seek legal advice on the agreement reached to ensure it is fair for both parties, that all assets have been considered, children needs are met as well as both parties and that financial ties are being properly severed.
Often parties will need to obtain professional valuations of assets and evidence of liabilities whether in joint or sole name, and it is essential that consideration is given to issues such as entitlement to spousal maintenance, child maintenance and division of assets fairly.
If there are no assets, a clean break consent order should still be issued through the courts to severe all financial ties with each other.
The Family Court itself encourages divorcing couples to try to resolve things between themselves. Before you can ask the court to decide, you normally have to attend a mediation information session to see whether mediation could help you reach agreement.
Please contact Miss Natalie Thomas if you wish to seek further advice in respect of divorce/separation matters.
Douglas Jones Mercer – Solicitors
Chelston House, 103 Newton Road, Mumbles, Swansea SA3 4BN
16 Axis Court, Mallard Way, Swansea SA7 0AJ