It’s the New Year! For family lawyers everywhere, the typical cliché rings true that this is the busiest time of year, as couples inevitably re-evaluate their relationships over the festive break and, in some cases, take the decision to separate. There are so many things to consider when you take the first step of announcing your decision and undoubtedly if you are reading this article you will be feeling a little daunted about what needs to happen next.
It is always a good idea to seek advice as to the things you should be considering and the most appropriate way forwards both legally and practically. As a minimum, we would recommend booking an initial fixed fee consultation with a solicitor to help you understand your options following a relationship breakdown. Even if you then choose to negotiate arrangements between yourself, an understanding of your position will help you to make future plans with confidence.
Consulting a solicitor is something that many people rarely ever do unless purchasing a property or making a will. The prospect of going to see a solicitor can be a daunting one. This article should help to alleviate some of your concerns, by giving you an overview of the sorts of things we would discuss with you in an initial consultation and how it can help you to navigate your separation.
We will usually start the appointment by asking you a little bit about why you have come to see us and the events leading up to you booking an appointment. Do not worry - we are not expecting a perfect account, just an overview of the situation which has caused you to consult a solicitor. We will then ask for basic details for yourself, your former partner and your children.
For married couples, consideration will need to be given as to whether to start the divorce process. For some, particularly in relationships that have ended with hostility, this will be a priority to enable them to move on with their lives. Others would prefer to wait until they have been separated for some time. We will talk you through the process, practical considerations and costs.
After separation, it will also be necessary to start having conversations with your partner about how you are going to deal with joint assets following your separation. It is important to consider how both of you are going to meet your needs moving forwards. We will ask you a number of questions about the assets that you and your partner own and give you a steer as to where you stand legally and what a sensible way forward might look like. We will also give you tips on how to maximise your income following separation, including advice on child maintenance, state benefits and (where applicable) support from your former partner.
Last, but most definitely not least, we may ask you some questions regarding the arrangements for your children. It can be really difficult to co-parent after a relationship breakdown and ensure that children are not affected by any underlying tensions or emotions that parents feel towards one another. Sorting out arrangements for your children is always a priority and often something which parents are able to agree between themselves. However, if you are struggling to have contact with your children following a relationship breakdown then we can advise you of the best way to proceed to re-establish a pattern of contact.
We hope that this guide will help if you are considering taking legal advice but are hesitant to take that first step.
If you would like to discuss your personal situation, please do get in touch with the Family team by calling 0330 0945 500, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our Contact Form and we'll get back to you. Click on the links below for details about our fixed fee meetings and what to expect in your first appointment with one of our Family lawyers.