10 Mistakes people often make in Divorce

Do it themselves (DIY Divorce) rather than instruct a solicitor
Doing it yourself is fine and is a cheaper alternative if there are no matrimonial finances (formerly known as Ancillary Relief) or children involved. However, in order to make sure things are done properly and you walk away with a fair settlement, instruct a solicitor to represent your interests. Matrimonial finance is a complex area of law which should not be attempted in person. It will also mean that you can breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that you are not alone in this and an expert is on hand to help you navigate your way through your case.

Putting it off
If it is apparent that the marriage is over, do not bury your head in the sand. It is far better to deal with things head on rather than delay. Leaving things too long can make the process of reaching a settlement in relation to matrimonial finances (including your family home) more complicated, which often means it will be more expensive. In addition, if you re-marry before you have made an application for a Financial Order, you will lose out in ever being able to make your application. This is known as the Re-Marriage Trap. Avoid it, don’t delay.

Planning your next wedding before Decree Absolute is pronounced
How long will my divorce take? No one can really ever say. When matrimonial finances are involved things inevitably take longer however even with a straight forward divorce without any finances to consider, how long it will take depends on many factors such as whether your former spouse does his/her bit without delay, whether he/she does not want to participate, whether he/she decides to defend the divorce and Court mistakes and busy periods all play a part. Although you will ultimately overcome these difficulties should they arise, you should not begin to arrange your next marriage, especially if this means paying out for deposits for venues etc until you have your Decree Absolute in your hand. If you do, you may be disappointed or even out of pocket if things take longer than expected. Please also remember the Re-Marriage Trap mentioned above.

Not clarifying the likely cost with a solicitor before you start
Some Solicitors will offer a fixed fee for your entire divorce and matrimonial finance element to your case. Some Solicitors will offer a fixed fee for the divorce element and an hourly rate for the financial element of your case (negotiation and obtaining a financial order) and some Solicitors will only offer an hourly rate for all work carried out.
Whatever option you decide on, make sure your Solicitor talks through this with you, that you fully understand the costs implications and that you have it in writing. Having the agreement in writing is important not for any sinister reason but simply so that any misunderstandings can be flagged up at an early stage rather than when you are presented with your bill.

Choosing the wrong Solicitor to represent you
You will often hear the phrase “Jack of all trades, expert in none”. This is not true when it comes to the legal profession. Many Solicitors specialise in more than one area of law. A Solicitor does not necessarily become an expert because all he/she does is divorce, and likewise a Solicitor can be very knowledgeable even if he/she also practices other areas of law. The best way to really know whether your Solicitor is the right choice for you is to follow your instincts. Does he/she relate to you? Do you feel like he/she understands what you are going through? Does he/she answer your questions directly with knowledge and confidence? Do you like your Solicitor and feel you could have a good working relationship with him/her? If the answers to these questions are yes, then you are likely to have found the right Solicitor for you.

‘War of the Roses’ style litigation
It is important that you see the bigger picture and have your eye firmly on what you want to achieve rather than getting drawn in to petty fights with your former spouse. Getting caught up in small details rather than progressing your case effectively is likely to rack up high costs for the wrong reasons. Would you really want to spend hundreds of pounds or more arguing over possession of a CD or book just to make a point? Sounds silly but it happens. Keep a cool head.

Relying on Legal Aid
As of 1st April 2013, Legal Aid is no longer available unless you have been the victim of domestic violence which is documented for example, an investigation by police or medical notes from your GP. Even if you do qualify for legal aid, or have an existing legal aid certificate granted before 1st April 2013, proceed with caution. You are likely to have to pay back the cost of your representation at some point in the future, therefore treat your case as if you were paying privately and have an eye on your legal costs.

Trying to hide money from your Ex and/or the Court
Don’t do this, you’re likely to be caught and be in big trouble. There is the use of forensic accountants and other methods of discovering dishonesty within matrimonial finance cases. Whatever you’re thinking, someone somewhere has tried it and failed.
The best thing to do is be open and honest and let your Solicitor help you.

Not knowing when to settle
Settling a case, is not about quitting. Settling is about knowing the right time to evaluate your position so as to ensure the right result for you. Settle too early or too late and you lose out. This requires expert judgement and is another reason why you should instruct a Solicitor to help you!

Stop sleeping and eating and start worrying
I don’t need to tell you the harmful effects of worry and stress and what will happen if you let this overcome you. The body and mind cannot function properly when worry takes over so don’t let it. You need to stay nourished and alert to be able to think clearly and make the right decisions during such a crucial time. Having the right Solicitor represent your interests should help with worry during such a difficult personal time.
For more information or to see how we can help you call Christina Mavromati on 020 8805 9735 or email Christina@kentsolicitorslondon.co.uk
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