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In the dark about divorce?

Statistics show that the average person who initiates divorce proceedings in the UK will spend over a year considering whether to divorce their spouse before they proceed.

This is completely understandable given what a serious decision divorce actually is. Aside from the obvious emotional trauma, people can also be intimidated or put off by the unknown of the legal process. This often prevents someone in an unhappy marriage from doing anything about it. Here we shed light on the most common concerns that are useful starting points for anyone who is contemplating divorce but is unsure what to do next.

The questions below relate to the “ancillary relief” part of the divorce process (i.e. the division of the assets), and payment of any maintenance which can be dealt with without needing to go to court.

What will happen to our assets?

When dealing with ancillary relief, the court’s primary concern is to do “fairness” as between the parties. As a spouse, you have a legal right to a share in all the matrimonial assets. What share each spouse receives will be different from case to case as the facts of every case vary. An experienced lawyer should be able to guide you as to the likely outcome, however, this will usually be dependent on the provision of full and frank disclosure of both parties’ finances.

My husband controls the finances, will I be protected?

If your spouse controls the finances, the court has the ability to order him/her to make such payments to you as it believes to be fair . This can be done on an interim basis pending the finalisation of the division of the assets. Therefore if you are worried that your spouse will not let you have enough money to get by whilst the finances are sorted out, the court can make orders to help you. The court can in the final division of assets also make final orders regarding the marital home.

I am worried that the children won’t be provided for, how can I protect them?

The welfare of the children is one of the court’s primary concerns. Both parents have a legal and moral obligation to support their children. The court can make orders for one spouse to make financial payments to the other in order to help support the children (this is the case even if the parties are simply separated).

How will the legal fees be paid?

Legal fees are often a big concern for parties who are seeking a divorce. Unfortunately, there is rarely a case where an accurate figure can be given for a client’s total divorce and ancillary relief costs. The actual divorce process is relatively straight forward and should be fairly predictable. You are well within your rights to ask your lawyer for an estimate as to how much each stage of the process would cost as you go along. At each stage those fees can be reviewed and reassessed so that you know where your money has gone, where it has got you and where it is going. Assistance can be sought from your spouse to help you with your fees if you are unable to afford them.

Whether you should divorce is a purely personal decision which should be made absent the concerns surrounding the divorce or ancillary relief process. Lawyers are there to guide you through the legal processes. It should not be the fear of the legal process which decides whether you do or do not stay together.

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