Going through a divorce is one of the biggest challenges anyone can face. Being a parent is another voyage of discovery where nobody gives you the map or the guidebook to steer your way through those murky waters.
Trying to do both of these together as a single parent produces many challenges and stresses that can only be explained by someone who has been through it or by an experienced, qualified solicitor who has seen all of the ups and downs of their many clients over the years.
Let's look at five of those biggest stresses together to see if we can help reassure you:
One of the biggest worries and struggles anyone faces when deciding whether or not to take that first scary step towards divorce is whether or not they can afford the costs. With the highly publicised demise of Legal Aid, you most likely think that the answer to that is that you simply cannot afford it. Thankfully this is not usually the case.
It is true that Legal Aid has gone, but here at Allansons Solicitors, we will always help you complete the relevant forms to enable you to be exempt from paying the court fee if you are financially eligible. Solicitors are renowned for not being cheap and years ago, we would have agreed with that. However, we recognise your needs and offer a very clear fixed fee pricing structure.
Wherever we can, we will also pursue a claim to recover your legal costs from your ex- spouse and always provide advice on whether this is possible.
You may also worry about whether taking that step will leave you unable to meet the costs of running the family home by yourself. However, if your spouse leaves and you are left with the mortgage, the bills and the children to pay for there are a number of steps you can take to gain additional income.
Firstly, you would be advised to apply for Tax Credits and also look at whether you are entitled to any other benefits. At Allansons Solicitors, we will discuss with you the prospect of claiming child support from your ex-spouse and/or claim what is called 'Interim Spousal Maintenance' for yourself. This is where the court can order your ex-spouse to make a regular payment to you to help continue to meet the shortfall in the costs of maintaining the family home and yours and your children's reasonable needs.
The law is governed by the Children Act 1989 which broadly states that a child should have time with both parents where it is safe for the child to do so. However, it can but one of the hardest things to sort out when you separate because the first thing that deteriorates is often the trust and communication between you and trying to make arrangements around the children's needs, activities, schooling etc. can become a minefield.
The first thing we usually recommend is mediation because you will be given the tools to manage communications and arrangements between you without the need for further solicitor's fees or court involvement (if both of you can cooperate).
If an agreement cannot be reached, court is the last resort and it is up to the parent not spending time or not happy with the arrangements to make the application to the court. However, please remember just because you or they ask the court does not mean the court will grant what is being asked for. The courts overriding consideration is what is best for the child or children and not what the parent feel is fair.
It would be unusual for the court to order any change to a child's living arrangements where they are already established, so long as the arrangement is safe. However, if it is appropriate the court may encourage working towards a shared care arrangement over a period of time and at the child's/children's pace. It is also rare for the court to consider splitting up siblings. This means if the children are living with you safely after a separation, this is likely to remain the case.
Sometimes staying in the family home is not what you want for a number of reasons. It can be worrying walking out of the house you have lived in, often for many years, and wondering if you can recover furniture or make sure you can return if you need and also protect your financial investment and interest in it.
Depending on how the house is registered at the land registry, even if it is not in your name, you can still secure something called 'matrimonial home rights' against it which enables you to occupy it, return there and protect your financial interest. We will discuss all of these possibilities with you if it is relevant in your case.
If you are thinking of leaving your home, we would most likely recommend that you take what you want/need with you at the time because furniture and personal possessions can become heavily disputed and often cost more than they are worth to sort out. Such a dispute or if they are destroyed or 'hidden' can be extremely difficult to trace.
If there has been any element of domestic violence or abuse, we would highly recommend that you take steps to protect yourself before issuing any sort of divorce petition, especially if you think this may place you or your children at greater risk of violence.
At Allansons Solicitors we can advise you of different steps that you can take to protect yourself, from informing the police of the danger to securing an order stopping your ex-spouse returning to the property where you live.
The above 5 points are only SOME of the common stresses of divorce and getting tailored, individual advice at the outset is extremely important in feeling informed and empowered to take the first initial step.
We offer a first initial meeting with an experienced, qualified family law solicitor to talk through all of your concerns and help you understand how the law is likely to be applied in your case. We also offer a fixed fee pricing structure that fits your case exactly, so you only pay for the service you need and nothing more.
All of our family solicitors are resolution members with over 35 years of experience. We have accredited specialists in domestic abuse and financial disputes as well as qualified mediators. By ensuring that we have all of the expertise under one roof, we can be sure that whatever the issue is, there is someone confident and experienced to help you.
To speak to one of our Wigan divorce solicitors, call us on the number below or complete the form on the right and we will call you back.
Tel: 01942 366 388