The divorce process can be complex and depending on the circumstances involved, can be difficult to navigate. To compound this, divorce is unfamiliar territory for most people and often comes with emotional turmoil. It, therefore, isn’t uncommon for mistakes to be made along the way.
Here, Anthony Jones describes some of the most common divorce mistakes and how to avoid them.
Not getting a financial order
Perhaps the most common mistake made by people divorcing is failing to obtain a financial order. Couples that decide to divorce without legal advice may be under the impression that the process is complete once they receive their Decree Absolute/Final Order. This is not the case! A financial order provides a clean break and prevents future financial claims from being made. Financial agreements can be agreed upon between the parties directly but must be signed off by the court in order for them to be legally binding. Due to the serious nature of financial orders and the finality they bring, it is worth seeking legal advice to ensure your interests are being catered for.
Taking advice from family/friends
Many people will know a friend or family member that has been through a divorce. It can be tempting to take their advice and try to apply it to your circumstances. Whilst seeking the emotional support of family/friends is a good idea, taking their ‘legal advice’ is not. Only a qualified solicitor will be able to advise you on the individual circumstances that apply to your case. In any event, the legal landscape may have changed since your friends got divorced – for example, in relation to ‘no-fault divorce’ legislation, which only came into place in April 2022.
Entering into the process with unrealistic expectations
The majority of divorces go through a process of alternative dispute resolution to agree on a way forward with arrangements around children and finances. If you enter into negotiations with a pre-determined idea that you are unwilling to waver from, it is unlikely that the process will go well. You may feel hard done by or mistreated, but carrying this burden into mediation or the collaborative law process can act as a serious hurdle. Costs are often greater where negotiations break down and must be referred to the court, so being willing to listen and compromise (to a degree) will be necessary.
Not having a financial plan
On the other hand to the above point, failing to pay any consideration to your future and how you would like your situation to pan out can be a mistake. Many people only consider the short term – and do not make allowances for their situation in the future, or what would happen should their circumstances change. The consequences of divorce can last a lifetime, so being sure you have adequate resources in place is essential.
Full financial disclosure is essential during financial settlement negotiations and parties that think they can conceal or undervalue assets will only delay the process, cause more acrimony and incur more costs. Some clients are even less than honest with their divorce solicitors! Without being aware of the full picture, it is unlikely that a divorce solicitor will be able to achieve the best outcome for you. So honesty is always the best policy.
Anthony Jones is a Director, Head of Family and a Resolution Accredited Specialist. For more information, please contact him on 01457 761320 or email email@example.com