If you read our blog ‘civil partnership and marriage – which is right for you?’ you’ll know that one of the few differences between the two is how they are legally ended. Marriages are ended with a divorce, and a civil partnership is dissolved. You can apply for a legal separation if you’ve been married or in a civil partnership for less than one year.
The law around divorce and dissolution changed in April 2022, when no fault divorce came into effect. We wrote about it HERE but, in brief, the main points are:
- One of the couple no longer has to accept blame for the relationship breaking down. Previously, couples had to cite a reason for separation, such as adultery, domestic abuse or desertion, or you had to live apart for at least two years. This caused bitterness and resentment between couples whose divorce or dissolution would have otherwise been amicable
- You can solely apply for a dissolution or divorce, and your spouse can no longer contest it. Joint applications are still accepted, but applying individually means you won’t remain trapped in a relationship you no longer wish to be in
What do you need to consider when applying for a dissolution?
As with all separations, dividing up assets and planning your financial future can be complicated. It may be especially overwhelming if you’re upset and feeling uncertain, or if children or your wider family are affected.
There is a great deal to think about, and getting calculations and valuations correct before an agreement is finalised is vital. Some common considerations are:
- Pensions – some pensions allow you to move money from your partner’s pension into your own, offset the value of a pension against other assets, or a portion of a pension may be earmarked for a former partner when payments begin
- Owned/mortgaged property – we can help you work out how much equity is in your home, where any children may live or continue to live, whether one partner can buy the other out or whether it is necessary to sell the jointly-owned home and find two new properties
- Savings, investments and money in bank accounts – we can help you divide these up, taking into account your earning ability, living expenses, age and other considerations such as disabilities and financial responsibilities
- Debts such as overdrafts and credit cards – we can help you make a plan to pay off any debts as part of your financial settlement
- Assets – we can support you in deciding how belongings are divided up, including cars, white goods and furniture, plus more sentimental items
- Maintenance payments – these may be needed to help cover a child’s or children’s living costs when one of the parents no longer lives with their child or children. We recommend having a legally-binding agreement in place (rather than negotiating terms between you) as payments may be missed which aren’t enforceable
How can we help you?
As you can see from the above, separation and finances are complicated areas of law. You don’t want to leave anything to chance, so we always recommend seeking legal advice for dissolutions.
Unless the relationship is abusive, we endeavour to help you settle terms constructively using mediation to avoid asking the court to draw up a financial order. This involves a trained mediator listening objectively to both points of view. The mediator doesn’t take sides but suggests practical steps you can take to reach an agreement you’re both happy with. As members of Resolution, we take a constructive approach to family law issues that considers the whole family’s needs.
Mediation isn’t free but is quicker and cheaper than going through the courts. You may be eligible for vouchers or Legal Aid if you have children or are on a low income. Please contact us for information.
Mediation also ensures that both partners are fully aware of the financial situation, as one person often handles household finances.
Mediation is the right option for us – what now?
Mediation can be used for any areas of your dissolution that you disagree on but, as this blog is about reaching a financial settlement, we want to tell you how you can make the most of your first session. We’ll need to see details of:
- Your income – your salary, wages, benefits plus any bonuses you expect
- Your living expenses – including the rent or mortgage on your property, travel, food and utilities
- Debts – anything you owe, including credit cards and loans
Bring any statements or bills to your first mediation appointment. You and your partner need to be honest about finances throughout the dissolution process otherwise your agreement may be invalid, and you may have to go through the courts to get a fairer share.
For more information about how our experienced team can support you, please email email@example.com or call 0116 340 0094. We offer virtual and face-to-face appointments.