Family & Divorce
Impact of the recent changes to divorce law
Since April 2022, the long awaited divorce reforms mean that getting a divorce is no longer a blame or waiting game.
Getting divorced is in itself an emotionally charged time and having to find fault with the other party or waiting for 2 or more years would drive a wedge between them from the start or resurrect ill feeling, making it difficult to set the scene for negotiating a financial settlement or child arrangements.
The new law also allows a couple to apply for the divorce jointly and we are finding that many couples choose this option, especially if both have agreed that marriage is over.
Choosing the right options for you
These reforms have created a better opportunity for focusing on resolving disputes and conflicts about the finances and children. With the waiting times for court hearings getting increasingly longer, it is in the interests of both parties and their children to try to reach an agreement without going to court and there are now more options than ever for doing so. A good starting point is to get sound legal advice on those options so that you can decide which is best for you.
Reaching an agreement
The law encourages parents to agree arrangements for their children without going to court.
However, do not be tempted to reach a financial settlement without getting it endorsed as a court order by consent, as without a court order you’re leaving yourself open to your ex making financial claims against you in the future. If you are applying to court for a consent order, it will be dealt with on paper and you will not need to attend any court hearings.
Whilst many couples choose to deal with the divorce themselves, you should seek legal advice before you finalise any financial agreement. The law entitles both of you to full details of the other’s finances and you should ensure that you have that information before you agree a settlement. Do not be tempted to ignore pensions, which can often be a very valuable asset to share or offset against the family home and may need expert advice to ensure that that true value is taken into account.
Sally Ward, Head of the Family team, said:
“We often see clients who do not see pensions as important to a settlement or who have been persuaded by their ex not to bother with them. We also see clients who have been divorced for a while but done nothing about finalising the financial settlement with a consent order, when their ex has resurrected the financial claims. This can result in unfair settlement and it is essential that you get expert advice early on and make sure that all assets are shared fairly, then finalise the settlement with a consent order.”