Sally Tarlton-Weatherall, Associate Solicitor and Family Law specialist from Redkite Solicitors discusses how to obtain legal advice after a relationship breakdown.
Relationship breakdown affects us all at one time or another in our lives – whether its first love, cohabitation/ co-owner, husband or wife, spouses or civil partners.
The consequences of relationship breakdown send ripples throughout family and friends and how those issues are handled can materially impact on an individual’s long term future. Fear of the consequences of relationship breakdown can cause anxiety and in itself cause more stress to an already complex situation.
Knowledge is power in some situations. Weighing the options before taking a decision that is suited to your own best interests is powerful.
A positive first step in relationship breakdown terms, during what is recognised as a difficult experience in itself, is to take independent legal advice. This is often sadly, but understandably overlooked. This article is intended to provide a simple outline for issues that you may need to know or consider upon relationship breakdown, Divorce in particular.
Divorce what you need to know – the current law
Firstly you need to have been married for one year before you can apply for a divorce or end your civil partnership.
Since 6th April 2022 the UK law for Divorce has been hugely simplified, meaning that it is no longer necessary to attribute blame or responsibility for the marriage breakdown to enable a divorce to proceed. We are now in the era of the ‘No Fault Divorce’, for information on the process you may wish to consult www.gov.uk where there is a wealth of useful information and also the divorce application can be made.
Divorce takes approximately 6 months under the new system. Within the process of Divorce there are two significant orders – the Conditional Order and the Final Order.
The Importance of addressing Financial Matters upon marriage breakdown via the Family Court
Once the application for divorce has been accepted by the Court the parties in the case should then consider financial settlement issues. In most cases there will be assets of the marriage to be divided between the parties such as the family home or pensions. To deal with such issues via the Family Court, in tandem with the Divorce, is so often overlooked.
One significant reason to deal with these issues via the Family Court in tandem with Divorce is that Court have the power to finally conclude financial claims between the parties once the Divorce is complete. This is commonly known as a ‘Clean Break Order’. As I have said, in my experience of 20 years as a family lawyer, couples often fail to appreciate the need to ask the Court to close down / terminate financial claims upon Divorce, often assuming that all that is needed is to obtain a final Order concluding the marriage.
You do not need to go to Court to decide what to do about financial matters on divorce unless you really cannot agree with each other. It can be cheaper and quicker if matters are agreed but even then please do not overlook the need to get approval of the Family Court to the agreement. It is advisable to use a solicitor for this given the importance and legal complexity involved.
The only way to achieve a Clean Break is via Divorce proceedings via the Family Court. In most cases a Clean Break Order is important to protect a parties’ future wealth from claims by their former partner. If a Clean Break Order is not obtained at the time of the marriage breakdown then financial claims will remain open between the parties to the marriage, even if they have become divorced, and there will be very real potential for financial claims against assets acquired post separation, years after separation.
In conclusion my clear advice to parties facing relationship breakdown is to seek independent legal advice as soon as possible in order to obtain expert advice on the issues in the case. At Redkite we recognise the benefits of this approach and also that parties cannot always afford to obtain legal advice. Redkite offer an introductory fixed fee advice service to new clients in recognition of such concerns. For a fixed fee of £150 inc VAT you will be entitled to a 45 minute advice session with an expert family solicitor. In my experience this will enable parties to obtain a preliminary view on their entitlements regarding financial and children matters on relationship breakdown, advice on the Divorce proceeds, together with a case plan enabling the parties to address some issues themselves and identifying the costs of passing the more complex issues to the expert, the family solicitor.
For more information on our fixed fee and other Family Law services please click HERE