So, what are the 6 key legal considerations to bear in mind before starting a divorce?

  1. Firstly, do bear in mind before considering starting the divorce process that it can be very emotionally draining and is known to be one of life’s most stressful experiences, so take steps to ensure you have a good support network in place before starting the process as you will need some emotional support.
  2. When instructing your solicitor to deal with the divorce and other aspects, such as financial matters, on your behalf, addressing the divorce process at the same time can result in an efficient and cost effective use of your solicitor’s time and limit the costs you will incur.
  3. Consider whether you will be making the application for divorce as a sole application or whether – as is now permitted under the new no-fault divorce legislation – this should be a joint application with your spouse. Approaching your spouse either directly or through your solicitor can sometimes make the process less contentious, especially as there is no longer any requirement to allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour on your spouse’s behalf.
  4. Look at your reasons for wanting to start a divorce. Is this because you are keen to remarry?  People might start the divorce process because although they have been separated for some time, they wish to remarry in order to do so.  If that is the case, you will need to bear in mind how long the divorce process will take.
  5. Looking at the timeframe for getting a divorce, you should be aware that the new no-fault divorce process introduced a new twenty week waiting period between issuing the divorce and applying for a Conditional Order (previously the Decree Nisi). This is on top of the minimum six week delay between the making of the Conditional Order and applying for the Final Order (previously the Decree Absolute), so ensure you factor these timeframes in to any plans you may have such as remarriage.
  6. There can be very costly tax implications in issuing a divorce at the wrong time. Whilst you will need to take specialist tax/accountancy advice if this relates to you, bear in mind that transfers of assets between spouses are usually free of any liability for Capital Gains Tax as long as these take place before or during the year of final separation.  This could be an important consideration in cases where there are assets such as a property in addition to the family home or shares in a business.