At Forrester Sylvester Mackett Solicitors we offer all our new family department clients a free 30-minute appointment. We use this time to explore your queries, whether these relate to separation or divorce, to issues about children or to any other question of family law. We try to answer as many of your questions as possible, and to offer some preliminary advice.
But there are some questions which are too important, and which we simply can’t answer for you, although we can offer some advice about your available options.
For some clients, the first question is: Do I want a divorce?
And for these clients, knowing your options is a vital first step.
Divorce now? Or later?
There are five ways in which you can show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. In practice, we only use a couple of these.
The first decision is whether it is right to start the divorce proceedings straight away, or whether it would be better to wait. We can explain the advantages of each, but the choice is yours.
Divorce straight away will almost always be on the grounds that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to continue to live with them. We would discuss with you some examples of the behaviour you would cite in the divorce petition. Where appropriate, we would let your spouse know the proposed wording before the divorce petition is sent to court.
For other people, living apart for a period of time is the right choice. After two years, if you both agree, you can rely on the fact that you have been living separate lives, and you do not have to refer to your spouse’s behaviour. If your spouse does not agree to the divorce, you would have to wait for five years.
It may be that a period of time apart will allow some of the pain of the divorce to pass, so that when the time comes, the divorce itself is not so traumatic. You can also use the period of time before the divorce to resolve the financial matters.
Divorce itself is not necessarily the right outcome for everyone.
Judicial separation is appropriate for people with strong religious views opposing divorce. The court acknowledges that you have chosen to live apart from your spouse, even though you are still legally married.
Although quite uncommon, we can advise you if judicial separation is appropriate for your circumstances.
And finally, there is a small but not insignificant number of clients who realise, as they start to explore their options for separation and divorce, that in fact they wish to continue in their marriage. For these clients, we can advise on options for marriage guidance and counselling.
If you would like to explore the options available to you, please ring us on 01249 444300 to arrange a free 30-minute consultation with one of our lawyers.