Divorce can be an extremely emotional experience to go through, with a minefield of actions necessary to be taken, so as divorce lawyers Guildford we’ve put together some actions you will need to take.
Making sure you are safe:
The main thing is to make sure you and your children are safe. Many people will have experienced, or are experiencing domestic abuse on some level. This includes not just physical abuse, but also emotional, sexual, or control over decisions. We can help advise you if your ex-partner is violent and will help you apply for any court orders that may be required for you to either stay in the home, or to make them to leave if they are refusing.
Your financial situation:
This is the biggest area with multiple companies to be contacted and different arrangements made and put into place. As a result you will need to take charge over your financial situation immediately.
Benefits: You may find that as a single parent you are entitled to benefits and/or tax credits that were previously unavailable to you – these include things like council tax reduction, or housing benefit. If you were claiming any benefits or tax credits as a married couple then you will need to inform the relevant agencies immediately to avoid being overpaid and also to reassess your new situation, as you may find you are entitled to a larger claim. Only do this once you have decided that you are definitely divorcing and not just trialling a separation, as it becomes much more complicated to try to reinstate your claims back to the original one, in the event you reconcile with your ex-partner – you may think it won’t happen to you, but it’s not uncommon.
Bank: Advise your bank as quickly as possible too. This avoids either party withdrawing funds without the other parties consent, or either party from knowingly increasing any debt etc. you may jointly share, such as an overdraft. Your bank will be able to freeze any joint accounts once you tell them you are divorcing and both of your permissions would be required for them to be re-opened. If you don’t have a bank account solely in your name you will need to get one now.
Credit Cards: Credit cards will need to be sorted too. If you hold a card and your partner is listed as an additional cardholder you will need to remove them to avoid them increasing a debt in your name – which you are then responsible for paying back. In the same way you will likely find yourself removed from your ex-partners account if you are the additional cardholder.
Utilities: Make sure you speak to all companies, utilities etc. that are in joint names, to advise them of the change in circumstance.
Mortgage: Your mortgage provider will need to be informed too and arrangements made regarding who is paying the mortgage, or if one of you is leaving the property can the other afford the payments and will it need to be transferred into their name.
Post: If one of you is leaving the marital home then their postal address will need to be changed as quickly as possible. Remember it is illegal to open any post which is not in your name – whatever the circumstances. You should either advise your ex-partner, or a mutually agreed friend/family member if things are hostile, and arrangements can be made for them to receive their own post from you.
Insurance Companies: Many people will neglect to contact their insurance companies. This applies not just to home insurance, but also to car, health, travel etc.
TV Licencing: Also the TV licence company will need to be notified if it is held in your partner’s name.
If you can keep things amicable between you and be able to sit down and go through the finances calmly, this will be of benefit to both of you as you will be able to see the whole picture and work out who will be responsible for what. A conversation will need to take place over who is responsible for any joint debt accrued. As experienced divorce lawyers Guildford we can help you through all these decisions and make sure you are equipped with any knowledge or information you need prior to finalising anything legally.
You may need to obtain a court order if you feel your ex-partner will sell, or give away any property or assets you jointly own. Usually you will be required to have started divorce proceedings before applying for a court order. We can help and advise you of your rights and obligations regarding this area of law.
Your children and their living/contact arrangements:
Making arrangements for the welfare of your children will also be high on your list of priorities. There are no hard and fast rules as to the amount of contact a child has with either parent – it very much depends on your personal family dynamic. You should always keep your child’s best interests at the heart of any decisions you make and not allow your own personal feelings towards your ex-partner to cloud your judgement. It is important that, where appropriate, your child has regular access to both parents. You will need to discuss where the child will be living, or will they spend equal time in both houses? How often will they stay overnight with the other parent? Will contact be affected by after-school clubs or activities the child does? Who is responsible for after-school care? How will the child travel between parental visits? The financial aspect will need to be arranged too, how much is each parent responsible for, or does one parent pay a set amount each month? Again as experts in this area of divorce law we are fully equipped to help you with all these decisions and help you to achieve an agreement that works for all of your family.
Who should you advise? If you have children you should make their school and any clubs they attend aware of the situation. Children’s behaviour can be affected by a divorce and it will be helpful if they are aware of this so they understand if a previously well behaved child suddenly starts acting up. They can often be a safe place, with trusted adults, for your children to be able to speak with and can report back to you any concerns.
Any life policies or wills:
Lastly, it is a good idea to make sure any will or life policy you have is updated to reflect your new status. Your next of kin and/or main beneficiary may well have changed with a divorce, something which many people overlook.
These are just a few things that we can help you with whilst you navigate through your own divorce process. As experienced divorce lawyers Guildford we can help you with any questions or queries you have pertaining to your own personal situation.
Call us on 01483 826470 and let us put your mind at rest.