Why is September a busy month for divorce lawyers?
It’s commonly supposed that the New Year is a popular time for disgruntled spouses to make enquiries about filing for divorce, and certainly that’s true, but for the divorce lawyer, September is just as busy.
Often it’s down to one or more of three factors:
* Thanks to the summer holidays, families have spent more time together than usual, and in close proximity, leading to fault lines in the relationship being exposed
* Established routines to which everyone is accustomed throughout the rest of the year are disrupted
* For many parents, the cost of childcare throughout the summer, plus the expense of going on holiday, can be a tipping point
It’s fair to say these factors tend to feature primarily in relationships that are already under strain. And we divorce solicitors also receive queries from couples already separated who, after what might have been a tense summer, seek to change the arrangement imposed on them by a family court. Add into the mix the undeniable tensions created by the pandemic and there’s no doubt many relationships have had their fault lines exposed in a very unforgiving way.
What happens next?
Although the No-Fault Divorce Act received Royal Assent in June 2020, the reforms have not yet come into force. Ministers announced that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will come into force on 6 April 2022, allowing married couples to divorce without assigning blame or fault.
This means that your divorce petition must prove the marriage has irretrievably broken down by evidencing one of five, specific, statutory facts:
* unreasonable behaviour
* desertion, and you have been separated for two years (in practice, this is rare, and difficult to prove)
* two years’ separation, with agreement by both that there should be a divorce (and it’s worth considering that this two years of separation in itself provides a “cooling-off” period – a time for reflection)
* five years’ separation (the consent of the Respondent is not needed)
Although there is no legal requirement for you to appoint a solicitor to handle your divorce and prepare your petition on your behalf, people who attempt to conduct their own divorces without the support and advice of a solicitor are often not aware of the issues it could present in the future, particularly those relating to finances.
For example, finalising your divorce itself is not the only element to separation. Whilst the finances are inextricably linked, a clean break order is required from the Court to sever your link from one another financially. In the absence of getting a clean break order from the court, your spouse – even after divorce – has the capacity to make an application against your estate.
Therefore (hypothetically) should you win the lottery post-separation, your former spouse could make an application for a portion of your winnings.
The best thing to do is speak to a family law solicitor
Doubtless you won’t be surprised then when I say your best course of action is to seek the advice of a family law solicitor as soon as possible.
Whatever the reason, if you or someone you know needs the support of a Family Law Solicitor this September or indeed at any time please do get in touch. We’re here to help you.