Common Divorce Mistakes
Divorce can be a painful and overwhelming process for many couples and can be fraught with potential pitfalls. While divorce is a legal process, it is also an emotional one. When emotions are involved it is easy to make mistakes or for your judgement to become clouded.
Here are some of the most common divorce mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Not getting a financial order and severing financial ties
It is a common misconception that once you are divorced and have received your final order or decree absolute, that you are financially free from your ex-spouse. It is important to note that the divorce finances are dealt with separately to the divorce, therefore a final divorce order/decree absolute does not sever your financial ties. This means that whilst you may be legally divorced, you may still have financial obligations to your ex-spouse.
It is vital that you apply for a financial order. If you have reached an agreement regarding your finances, or if there are no finances to split a financial consent order is required which essentially provides for what is known as a ‘clean break’ between you and your ex-spouse. This will prevent future claims being made and formally sever your financial ties.
This is something, which is often overlooked by people who handle their own divorce. The absence of a clean break order means that further financial claims can be made in the future.
- Remarrying before sorting out your finances – Moving on too soon
Getting remarried before sorting out the divorce finances can be disastrous and complicate ongoing divorce proceedings unnecessarily. In addition remarrying without a financial order may result in you losing your right to apply for one. You will be unable to seek a fair share of the assets using the Matrimonial Cases Act 1973. Instead, any application would need to be made under the ‘Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996’ which is less than ideal as the court has far less discretion about how to deal with matters.
- Lack of financial planning
It is sensible to have a clear understanding of your financial position at all times. In particular how your financial situation will change. Obtaining advice from a solicitor and financial planner/tax adviser can be crucial in working out how much of the assets you want/need and the affordability of potentially remaining in the family home or purchasing a new property. Consider preparing a clear budget based on facts and not feelings. A financial plan will help provide clarity and guidance around your future goals while taking into account your assets, liabilities, income and expenses.
- Not getting legal advice
Going through a divorce on your own can be very difficult not to mention confusing and overwhelming. Navigating through a separation and divorce can be challenging, but fully understanding all of your available options can make the process far less of a headache. Legal support can make the process run much smoother. Help from a solicitor is particularly important when it comes to dealing with the financial settlement and child arrangements. Both can be complex areas of law.
- Taking legal advice from family and friends
While your family and friends may have the best intentions and may have gone through a divorce themselves, every divorce is different. What worked for them may not work for you. The only person you should be taking legal advice from is a qualified solicitor.
- Refusing to compromise
Divorce requires compromise. Unless your ex-spouse totally caves in (which is most unlikely) you are not going to get everything you want. You are going to have to give in on some things. The more you dig your heels the longer the divorce will take and the more it will cost.
- Allowing your emotions to drive decisions
The divorce process can be draining in many ways. However, throwing up your hands and agreeing to a settlement to get things over with is not the answer. Although challenging, you must put your emotions aside and try to communicate with your ex-spouse. When working through your divorce, take your time. Don’t be afraid to look to outside sources such as counselling for help you get off the emotions roller coaster.
- Going straight to court
Court proceedings should be an absolute last resort. Proceedings can be long, difficult and costs can escalate quickly. Consideration should be given to alternative methods, such as lawyer-led negotiations or mediation. Not only will these avenues save money, they can often help achieve better outcomes, particularly if you have young children.
- Discussing the divorce with your children
Discussing the divorce with your children can have a deeply damaging impact on them. It is crucial to protect children’s feelings and shield them from anything that will cause pain and confusion. Under no circumstances should the children be embroiled in legal difficulties. The children need to know that it’s ok for them to have a relationship with both parents and there is no need for them to ‘take sides’. Unless your children are adults, they are unlikely to have the emotional maturity to deal with or understand complex adult problems.
Remember that you and your spouse are getting a divorce, but your children are not. They will be connected to you forever.
If you are considering a divorce or separation and wish to discuss matters raised in this blog, please contact a member of the Family and Divorce team on 020 8280 2710 who would be pleased to speak with you.