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How to prepare for a divorce

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If you don’t have a solicitor, contact the Solicitors Family Law Association or Family Lawyers via the Law Society for details of members in your locality. Most practices will allow half an hour of free advice, which gives the opportunity to see whether we would be happy with this solicitor acting on our behalf. Before making any public declaration about your intention to divorce, however, The Good Divorce Guide recommends that you provide yourself with some facts and figures about your financial position. Bear in mind that this may also include any inheritances, compensation received for personal injuries, or redundancy pay. Make a checklist as follows:
What property do each of you own in your own name — houses, furniture and other contents, land, stock, shares, pension policies, life insurances, investments, cash in banks, building societies or in other accounts?
If either of you are self-employed a certain proportion of your savings will in due course be payable to the Inland Revenue and should be deducted from the total. What is the value of that tax liability?
What property do you own in joint names with your spouse or anyone else?
Did either of you own any property before you were married or acquire it after you were separated? Did any of it come by way of gift or inheritance from your families? If so, what property comes in these categories?
What are the current values of all the property involved? Will costs or duties be payable if any of it is sold and, if so, what is its value of any costs?
What mortgages exist in your name, your partner’s or jointly, and how much is outstanding on them. Have payments due on mortgages or agreements been maintained and, if not, what arrears are outstanding?
Are any balances outstanding on hire, hire purchase and credit cards, joint or separate?
What debts do you or your partner have, joint or separate?
Are current accounts for public utility services — electricity, gas, telephone — in the name of the person who is using the service and who will continue to receive the bills and be liable for them unless or until the supplier is informed otherwise?
If any transfer of property is involved, will the date or manner of the transfer mean that the liability of taxes or any other duty will arise? If not, what will it cost?
Your solicitor will probably suggest ‘mediation’, which can lessen the cost of the divorce quite considerably, since the fees depend on the extent of the problems surrounding the settlement and the number of sessions required to resolve it. Meditation has been introduced to minimise legal costs, court time and Legal Aid. In most cases the petitioner and respondent do not discuss their circumstances in front of each other. The mediator obtains all the necessary information during individual sessions and then offers suggestions to each in separate interviews.
Preparing a financial checklist before consulting a solicitor could save at least a couple of hours of solicitor’s fees.
Solicitors’ fees are usually calculated by the time of the person actually doing the work – partners will cost more than assistant solicitors, legal executives or articled clerks.


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