The stages of divorce don't have to be stressful but can often lead to devastating consequences for couples and their children if they aren't handled well. This is not about efficiency, this is about being considerate with one another. There will be a huge compromise for both of you to consider. There will be life changing decisions that must be made. If either of you believe that the divorce is a battle to be lost or won you could be in for a rough ride.
On one end of the spectrum the first decision will likely be whether you can handle the divorce proceedings or if you want a family lawyer to handle it for you. At the other end of the spectrum you may very well be considering which team of lawyers you will instruct.
Let us walk you through the five stages of divorce you need to understand before your divorce costs spiral out of control. Thankfully it isn't as confusing or complex as many people think. It's what goes in between that can make or break a man going through divorce.
Relationships frequently break down and it isn't something the parties are usually prepared for. However, the family law specialists can almost predict to the day when their offices will be filled with new clients. Statistics show that the end of summer and the new year are the busiest times of year for family lawyers.
So relax, you're not alone. Whilst going through the stages of divorce can be emotionally draining they are actually quite simple. I know the ending of your relationship is also painful but it could also be the start of something magnificent. The Relationship Breakthrough Coach can help you turn your relationship break up into a breakthrough!
The below stages of divorce assume that you would be the applicant, and your former would be the respondent. Of course, it could quite easily be the other way around.
The first stage of divorce will be making the actual decision that you need to make an application. Your divorce petition should be submitted to the local court for your district. It is fairly simple online research to determine which court is right for you. First things first, this is a civil matter, not criminal, so expect to be under the County Court system, as opposed to the Magistrates Court!
You submit your application for a divorce to the courts outlining the grounds and the preliminary arrangements for children if you have them. The court must consider the legality of your application and ensure that the grounds for divorce are sufficient, and that all parties in the divorce have been duly notified.
You must provide your former spouse with a full copy of your application at the same time and the court will require evidence that those documents have been formally served. Usually a solicitor will handle service of documents however it is also quite acceptable for you to do this yourself. You would just need to provide a statement that you have served those papers.
Congratulations, you just made it through stage 1 of the five stages of divorce!
Your ex has to submit their response to the court. The court then notify you of the response so you can consider any counter argument raised, and whether the application is to be contested.
Once you have considered your partners response you must report back to the court and the matter will then be listed for a hearing by the county court judge.
When both parties agree to the divorce and the grounds for the divorce, there isn't any need to attend any hearing and the court will issue the "decree nisi" and you will receive a notice in the post.
There are a couple of points to remember at this stage.
1. You are still legally married
2. You have a time period in which you must wait before proceeding to the decree absolute.
This time period can be just as turbulent however because this is where you should focus upon a settlement. Who gets the house, who gets the dog and how often you get to see your kids. Depending on your personal situation this stage of the divorce could leave you incredibly vulnerable.
You can be expected to make full financial disclosures that are both time consuming and emotionally demanding. Your partner will have to go through the exact same steps. Only when you have reached a full disclosure should any negotiations begin.
If it was just between you and you spouse, no children, one property, no businesses, and you both earned the same you would likely achieve a fifty fifty split on amicable terms and little heartache. You could achieve this with a quick divorce where all parties agree and would need minimal legal advice.
The more assets or liabilities you need to consider, the more valuable your divorce solicitors advice will become. Furthermore, if there were any prenuptial agreements in place it is likely that divorce solicitors will be advising you at this stage.
This is often much more complex, and much more likely to be contested prior to going to court. This is where you need to finally arrange for allocation of the assets, make arrangements for maintenance payments and get closure on your divorce.
The other really important aspect at this stage of divorce is to consider how the costs will be shared. If you are at fault according to the court, your partner can request an order that you cover their costs as well as your own. If there are already solicitors involved this can be significant.
You must wait at least six weeks from the Decree Nisi, but should apply for your Decree Absolute within 12 months, otherwise the court may ask for an explanation about the delay. Which costs money.
This process presents lots of opportunity for emotional stress, and heartbreak and the real cost of divorce becomes ever more apparent.
The stages of divorce maps the process for you, but the content in each stage can vary dramatically from divorce to divorce. If you can agree the terms with each other and want the agreement to be legally binding (recommended) then a solicitor can draft certain 'Orders' for the court to consider.
A clean break type settlement is advantageous, because there will be no future arguments over the terms of your divorce. This is especially why getting professional legal advice can be cost effective. The right orders, with the right agreement can save you a fortune later.
There are many options or paths to go down with this process, and it can be as complicated or as simple as you choose, and dependant upon your personal situation. Private investments, property assets, business interests, accounts, credit card debts, all need to be taken into account.
Any point you are able to agree upon with your partner will significantly reduce the cost and speed up the process. And vice versa, any point in dispute cans significantly delay the outcome and increase the cost of your divorce. This is where having clear desired outcomes will serve you. Keep your focus on the long term rather than the battles of the moment.
You get your decree absolute, you are legally divorced and no longer married. Thats the five stages of divorce in a nutshell!
You need to be clear on any orders you wish the court to make. Orders can be around child care, child contact, or even child protection if that has been an issue for you. There could be non molestation orders taken out if there is any perception of harassment. Then there are financial orders.
Even if you wish to separate for a period before going ahead with a divorce you can still invite the court to intervene with Separation and Disclosure orders. These will protect both parties financial interests and allow for a fair playing field in any future negotiations.
Court Orders can be around finances for example spousal maintenance or child maintenance. Orders can be around settling the joint assets or business's. The court can also order parties to sell property and compensate the other party.
As each case is unique we highly recommend seeking professional legal advice via a divorce specialist solicitor.
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