Do I need a solicitor for my amicable divorce?
The decision to divorce without a solicitor may seem like the best option if you and your partner have reached an amicable decision to separate. When you do not have children and you agree how your finances should be split a quick, online divorce saves money in the short-term.
However, even when a split is harmonious it is advisable to speak to a solicitor before you start divorce proceedings. There may be financial and practical aspects to consider that you were not aware of. These may result in complications and greater expense further down the line and you may be left with nagging doubts about whether you made the right decisions.
Why do I need a divorce solicitor to protect my financial interests?
When you and your partner sit down together to work out the financial implications of your divorce there are many considerations. You may need to discuss how you will split the equity of your home, whether there is a pension to share, and if one person is going to pay spousal maintenance to the other (see below). Both you and your partner will need to disclose your salary, savings and other finances. It is against the law to conceal assets in a divorce.
When you have both disclosed your finances, a solicitor will advise you on an appropriate financial settlement. Without a solicitor there is the danger that you may later experience doubts about whether you were treated fairly - time and distance can bring greater perspective. For example, if you are going to be paid a lump sum for your share of the property, have you taken into account that the property may increase in value in future?
Once you have agreed a financial settlement you need to make it legally binding by asking a family law solicitor to draw up a financial order.
We haven’t got any significant assets. Do we need a financial order?
Many people without financial assets assume a financial order is not necessary for them. However, even if you or your ex-spouse do not have any money now your circumstances may change in the future. Without a financial order in place your ex-spouse has the legal right to make a financial claim against you years after the divorce has been finalised.
A Decree Absolute legally ends your marriage but it does not end the financial commitments between you. A financial order that has been approved by the Court cuts all financial ties.
The Court is more likely to grant a financial order if you and your ex-spouse have received legal representation from a divorce solicitor. This is because the Court knows you have both received legal advice about any rights you may be giving up and so the financial settlement is more likely to be fair.
What are the types of financial order?
The two main financial orders are a ‘consent order’ and a ‘clean break order’.
This is for couples who have assets to divide. A divorce solicitor will draft the consent order and it will be sent to the Court to be approved by a judge. Once approved, the consent order is legally binding and neither party can make a financial claim against the other at a later date.
Clean break order
Couples who do not have any financial assets now may opt for a clean break order. This order cuts financial ties protecting them from any claims against them in the future.
A divorce solicitor will be able to explain your options and advise you on the best type of financial order for you.
Am I entitled to spousal maintenance?
Many people are not aware that they are entitled to spousal maintenance even if they do not have children. Spousal maintenance is totally separate from child maintenance.
Spousal maintenance is awarded if one party in the marriage cannot cover their living costs without the other. Spousal maintenance can be paid monthly, for a limited period of time (for example, until the financially dependent spouse remarries), or for a lifetime.
The alternative to monthly maintenance payments is a lump sum. Couples might agree to split their capital in favour of the spouse who has less potential to generate income.
There are advantages and disadvantages to monthly maintenance payments and a lump sum payment. Your divorce solicitor will advise you which option is best in your circumstances. Arrangements can be set out in a financial order so that no further financial claims can be made.
My ex-spouse’s name is no longer on the mortgage. Does the house belong to me?
Sometimes when couples divorce one partner remains in the house. The spouse who has left may have said they do not want the house and removed themselves from the mortgage. However, if this spouse is named on the property title deeds, they still have a stake in the property.
When couples divorce online without a solicitor they may not realise the significance of property title deeds and it can be many years before the mistake comes to light. Even though an ex-spouse may have originally said they did not want any money from the property they might change their mind when the property is sold.
If you have made the decision to take full responsibility for your property you need a solicitor to draw up a transfer of equity to remove your ex-spouse from the title deeds. You will need to speak to your mortgage lender first as they must agree that you can afford to pay the mortgage by yourself.
How QualitySolicitors can help you
Our specialist divorce solicitors can advise you whether you are in the early stage of considering divorce or you have decided you need a solicitor to represent you.
We offer a free Initial Assessment and Ask the Legal Expert (45 minutes for £99), through to full representation. You will receive open, honest advice so you are able to make the best decisions, knowing that your interests are protected both now and in the future.
To discuss your circumstances, talk to us today on 08082747557