What should you do before contemplating separation?
The straightforward answer is – come to see a lawyer.
People have different views about the right time to take legal advice when considering a separation. Some will come to see a solicitor before they have even told their partner of their decision. Others will wait until they simply cannot see a way forwards without the benefit of legal advice.
There is a stigma associated with taking advice. Despite the efforts we, as solicitors, go to in order to ensure that matters are dealt with amicably and constructively, it is fair to say that many people view visiting a solicitor as a declaration of war. Here is why you should consider taking advice early and why doing so should not always be seen as a confrontational move:
If you have children with your partner, then the most important consideration should be making arrangements for them, including, where appropriate, agreeing on the level of time which your children will spend with each parent. The biggest concern for any parent on separation will be the impact that separation will have on their relationship with their child. Taking advice early will ensure you know what your rights are as a parent, what steps you can take to ensure a good co-parenting relationship moving forwards and what resources are available to help you and your children process the separation.
2. The Family Home
This is often the most difficult topic for separating parties to discuss – what will happen to the family home. You may wish to consider the following:
- Who will reside in the family home?
- The importance of any children of the family remaining in the family home
- Payment of the mortgage and other outgoings on a short-term and long-term basis
Once you are separated, it is fair to say that living under the same roof could be difficult. Equally, moving out may prejudice your position in the long term. By speaking to a solicitor early on, you can ensure that you make fully informed decisions about the family home and its occupation, as well as understanding what your options are if sharing the property does become intolerable.
On separation, you will need to consider your financial situation and how joint finances will be managed moving forwards. For married couples, consideration will need to be given to income (including bonuses), property and other capital assets such as share structures, business interests and occasionally management of family businesses and finally the sharing of pensions. There are, of course, tax benefits to dealing with asset transfers within the tax year of separation and so early advice and early agreement with your partner can help you to take advantage of those benefits. A solicitor can help you to work out the most sensible way of managing your finances post separation.
Consult Our Family Law Experts
Most importantly, taking advice at an early stage will ensure that you are making decisions which safeguard your interests and protect the welfare of your children. It will enable you to have discussions with your partner or enter into mediation with confidence, knowing where you stand legally and what your options are. Seeking help does not have to be a signal of war, but rather a sensible step to ensure stability for your future.
If you would like advice and support regarding your separation, in strict confidence, contact our Family Law team.
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Garner & Hancock realise that the prospect of pursuing a legal matter can be challenging, so we offer an initial phone consultation to discuss your options, and to give you information that will help you make the right choices affecting your case.
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