Everyone rushes around all year and then at Christmas the whole family spends time together opening presents and enjoying a lovely turkey dinner. For most it is a wonderful time, but for some spending time with their spouse during the holidays is the straw that breaks the reindeer’s back.
I see many clients in early January who have come to the conclusion that enough is enough. They have tried to make the relationship work but being together at Christmas has just shown them that it is time to call it a day. Others have gritted their teeth to stay together until Christmas is over for the sake of the children.
So, what do you do?
Seek advice from a solicitor before doing anything.
Many solicitors will offer either a free meeting (as I do) or a fixed fee meeting to give you some basic pointers. The meeting is confidential so your spouse will not be told what has been discussed or even that the meeting has taken place (unless you tell them).
Most solicitors now offer fixed or agreed fees for divorce, so you know what you will have to pay and when. They will explain their charges to you at the first meeting, once they have learned some facts about your case.
Do not do anything silly such as:
• Move out of the family home and take all the furniture with you
• Take all the money out of the joint account and spend it
• Throw all of your spouse’s clothes and belongings out of the window
I’ll say it again – seek advice!
There are many misconceptions about divorce – the media do not help matters.
There is no such thing as a ‘quickie divorce’, as reported in the papers when celebrities end their marriages. Divorces in England and Wales follow the same procedure and take, on average, 3 to 4 months. What generally complicates matters is dealing with the children or finances, which is why taking legal advice at an early stage is so important.
Another misconception relates to the ‘grounds for divorce’. “We don’t get on” or “We have drifted apart” is not enough. If you are still living together, there are two options. If your spouse has committed adultery, you can divorce on this basis. If there is no adultery, your only choice is unreasonable behaviour – you find it unreasonable to live with your spouse because he or she behaves in a certain way.
If you are already living apart, you can divorce on the basis of separation, but you do need to be living in separate households for two years (if you both agree to divorce) or five years if your spouse is not in agreement. Sleeping in separate bedrooms is not enough.
So, getting divorced is the end of the matter?
Divorce only ends the marriage – it does not deal with financial matters. If you jointly own a property or one of you has a pension to be shared, these issued must be resolved before a divorce is finalised.
I will say it one more time – seek advice from a Solicitor before taking action!