I'm Separated? How soon should I divorce?

I'm Separated? How soon should I divorce?

When a married couple first reaches a decision to separate, they are often faced with a number of decisions to make:

  • Should I be considering divorce? Is it too soon?
  • Should I go and see a solicitor yet?
  • Should we both remain in the family home?
  • What shall we do about our finances in the meantime?

At Neves we recommend taking independent legal advice at the earliest opportunity so that we can help you to navigate the early stages of separation. The biggest dilemma clients are often faced with is the decision about how soon they should be starting the divorce process. There are two different ways to approach this:

  1. Commence the divorce straight away

For some clients, particularly those who have had a difficult relationship breakdown, the priority is to start the divorce process and tie up any loose ends with their partner at the earliest opportunity, to enable them to move on with their lives.

Currently, in England and Wales, the only grounds on which a divorce can be obtained at an early stage (when you have been separated for less than two years) is if the divorce petition is based on your spouse having a) committed adultery, or b) behaved in such a way that it is unreasonable to expect you to carry on living with them. These two grounds for divorce are known as ‘fault’ grounds and carry an element of ‘blame’.

During the divorce process, it is possible for parties to agree on the terms of a financial arrangement governing how the finances accrued during the marriage will be divided. This can include arrangements for the family home, for maintenance and pension provision, among others.

If you have recently been through a separation and you are keen to have finality at the earliest opportunity, we can assist you in starting the divorce process and agreeing on the terms of a financial settlement with your partner.

  1. Delaying the divorce

An early divorce does not appeal to everyone and many clients have their own reasons for not wanting to divorce straight away. For some, the prospect of reconciliation cannot be discounted. Others would prefer to wait and start divorce proceedings consensually after they have been separated for two years, feeling this sets a more amicable tone. Finally, you may be aware that the courts are in the process of introducing ‘no fault divorce’ (which is to come into force on 6th April 2022) and so some clients would prefer to wait until this facility has been introduced to the legal system and proceed with a divorce on this basis.

There are many reasons why you may feel that a divorce straight away is not appropriate. However, clients are often concerned about how this will affect them in the future, particularly financially, if matters are simply left in abeyance. In this situation, it is possible to enter into a separation agreement, detailing the terms of your separation. This can then be converted into a formal agreement as and when the divorce is eventually commenced. Many clients see this as an amicable alternative to an early divorce.

Seek advice early

Whichever option you choose, it is important to take legal advice at an early stage, so that you can ensure that any decision you take will not have an adverse impact on you in future.

If you would like advice and support regarding your separation, contact our Family Law team today on 0330 0945 500, email family@nevesllp.co.uk or complete our Online Contact Form and we'll get back to you.