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The Top Three Things You Should Do Before Contacting A Divorce Lawyer

Now that Christmas is behind us, sadly, some people will be thinking of getting divorced in the New Year.  The pressure of living through a global pandemic and the financial hardship and job losses that have resulted may prove too much for some.  If you are considering getting divorced, our family law Solicitors can provide compassionate, pragmatic advice and representation.  Our divorce lawyers are members of Resolution and therefore follow a strict Code of Practice aimed at helping families resolve disputes in a calm, non-confrontational manner.

25 January 2021
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Before you contact a divorce Solicitor, there are several things you should do.  They are:

1.  Check if you have been married for more than one year

You must be married for at least one year before you can petition for divorce.  There are no exceptions to this.  If you want to separate from your spouse before one year has elapsed, your options are to:
•    Apply for a Decree of Judicial Separation or a Decree of Nullity.  Once the Decree is obtained, the Court can then make a Child Arrangement Order and/or Financial Orders.  
•    Apply for a maintenance or a lump sum under section 27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 if your spouse does not provide reasonable maintenance for you and/or any children of the marriage.
•    Apply for a Non-Molestation and/or Occupation Order if you have experienced or are at risk of domestic abuse (including coercive control).
We can advise you on all these options if you have been married less than 12 months.

2.  What country should the divorce petition be filed in? 

For high-net-worth and international couples, one of the first considerations when it comes to getting a divorce is to work out what jurisdiction the divorce petition should be filed in (which will determine the country in which the court case, if there is one, will be heard).  

A court in England and Wales can only deal with a divorce if the following applies:

•    Both spouses are habitually resident in England and Wales.
•    Both spouses were last habitually resident in England and Wales and one spouse still resides there.
•    The Respondent (the person receiving the divorce petition) is habitually resident in England and Wales.
•    The Petitioner (the person filing the divorce petition with the Court) is habitually resident in England and Wales and has lived there for at least one year immediately before the petition is filed.
•    The Petitioner is domiciled and habitually resident in England and Wales and has been residing in England and Wales for at least six months immediately before the petition is filed.
•    Both spouses are domiciled in England and Wales.

If you are habitually resident in a country, your day-to-day life happens there.  For example, you may have a home in Weybridge and a property in Spain.  However, if your children go to school in Weybridge, your friends and hobbies are in the area, and you work nearby, although you own property and spend part of the year in Spain, for divorce law purposes, you are habitually resident in England.

Your country of domicile is more complicated.  You automatically acquire the domicile of the country you were born in.  However, you can change your domicile if you choose to make your life in another country.  For example, if you were born in Turkey but have lived in London for 15 years, your children, friends, work, and hobbies are in England and you have no plans to return to Turkey, your country of domicile could be said to be England, despite the fact you were born in Turkey.

3.  Do you have all the necessary information required to get a divorce?

Getting divorced does require certain paperwork to be filled out, for example, the divorce petition.  But you will also need access to bank statements, insurance policies, investment documents, and mortgage information to ensure both you and your spouse make a full financial disclosure to allow the financial agreement can be worked out.
In most circumstances, getting hold of these documents is straightforward; however, for victims of domestic abuse, getting access to financial information can prove impossible at best, dangerous at worst.  If you are the victim of domestic violence, talk to our family law Solicitors who can advise you on how to protect you and your children’s safety and obtain the information required to divorce your spouse.

In summary

Getting divorced is a major life decision; therefore, a little planning can help minimise stress and make the divorce process run smoother.  To talk to us in complete confidence, please call 01932 840111.