If you ask anyone on their wedding day how long they think that their marriage will last the answer will always be “forever”. But sadly, latest figures estimate that 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce.
Our family lawyers at Bennett Oakley Solicitors understand that going through a divorce is one of the most stressful life events imaginable. We know that helping you come to terms with the anger and fear caused by the loss of your marriage is part of our job and we will work with you, offering sound, solid advice that will provide you with security and confidence during this emotionally fraught time.
If there are any children involved we will ensure that their best interests remain paramount in accordance with principle set out in The Children Act 1989. They will also be treated with the sensitivity and compassion throughout the proceedings.
We are experienced in dealing with complex financial settlements resulting from divorce proceeding. Our lawyers can assist in untangling personal, business assets, and trusts to ensure you receive a fair divorce settlement to enable you to move on with your life.
What Are The Grounds For a Divorce?
To obtain a divorce you must be able to show the Court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. If you have been married for at least a year and one of you has been residing in England or Wales for at least a year prior to proceedings either party to the marriage can apply to the Court for a dissolution. The person applying for the dissolution (or Petition) is known as the Petitioner and the other spouse is known as the Respondent.
You must be able to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down due to one of the following five factors:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years’ separation
- Five years’ separation
Adultery and unreasonable behaviour are used in over 70% of divorce cases as the other three remaining options require the parties to be separated for two years or more.
What Arrangements Need To Be Made For Our Children?
When you file for divorce you also need to file a ‘Statement of Arrangements’ which outlines what you and your spouse have agreed regarding the care of your children. This document will decide which parent has ‘Residence’ (formally known as Custody) and which parent has ‘Contact’ (formally known as Access).
It is best for everyone if this can be worked out amicably between the two parents concerned, and as a general rule the Court will only interfere with a Statement of Arrangements if it has too. Mediation is available if you are having trouble agreeing on the arrangements.
Maintenance payments must also be paid for any child under the age of 17 years, or up until the time the child leaves full-time education.
How Are Financial Settlements Calculated?
Although the ideal situation is a ‘clean break’ between parties after the grant of the decree, this is not always possible. For example, if a husband or wife has spent many years bringing up children at the expense of his or her career, he or she may be entitled to ongoing spousal maintenance. The Court has an extensive range of powers when dealing with the division of marital property. The length of the marriage will be taken into consideration as well as the future earning potential of both parties and whether or not either one has entered into a new relationship.
If you need advice on separation or divorce law please call our office on 01444 235 232 to make an appointment to see one of our lawyers. Alternatively, you can fill in our contact form and we will be in touch shortly.