Divorcing & dividing your marital assets during COVID and in the digital age!

Browell Smith & Co Solicitors were one of the first firms in the country to offer the online digital divorce services to their clients, as part of a Government Pilot Scheme in late 2019.

Since then the new online process has taken off considerably and is now used by most divorcing couples. As a result we have been able to offer our clients a very easy, streamline & stress-free divorce process – often completing their divorce much quicker than we were previously able to on the old Court paper based system.

Fixed fees for divorces

We continue to offer fixed fees for divorces that are agreed and undefended, with the divorce costs being divided up over the duration of the divorce, which provides our valued clients with a manageable way to fund their divorce costs.

The online divorce process

Despite the online divorce process being relatively easy to use, it is still advisable for those seeking to start a divorce or those responding to a divorce applied for by their spouse to instruct a Solicitor to complete the process for them.

A Family Law Solicitor has the legal knowledge to ensure that the online process is completed correctly, with the correct information being supplied to the Court about such things as whether the Court has jurisdiction to deal with the divorce and also what financial orders should be applied for within the Divorce Petition.

What if my spouse does not respond to the online divorce?

If your spouse does not respond to the online divorce further action is required in order to provide the Court with evidence that your spouse has had sight of the proceedings before the divorce can progress. What is required to be done in this regard to progress your divorce cannot be achieved through the online process and specialist legal advice and assistance will be required, as often a Process Server will need to be instructed to personally serve your spouse with the Divorce Proceedings. A Family Law Solicitor will be able to do what is needed in this regard quickly and easily for you.

What if other issues arise during the divorce?

The online divorce system is relatively new and sometimes issues due crop up that need to be addressed with the Court in order to be rectified before the divorce can progress. If you have a Solicitor on board they are in regular communication with the Court and can rectify any issues quickly and easily so that they do not delay your divorce and this will mean that you do not need to contact the Court yourself, which can be daunting for some but also very time consuming for you.

Financial Settlements – What do I need to know?

Even in the event that you do decide to complete your divorce yourself, it is especially important that you take independent legal advice from a Family Law Solicitor about a suitable financial settlement within your divorce to ensure that yours and your spouse’s needs are met as well as those of any children of the family.

In the event that an agreement is reached between you and your spouse about how the assets are to be divided between you, then our Family Law Solicitors are able to advise you regarding such a settlement and are able to draft the Financial Remedy Order for yours and your spouse’s signature and complete the accompanying Statement of Information form for you.

There is also now an online Court system that is to be used to file the Financial Remedy Order for the approval of a District Judge at the Court and we would complete this process for you. In our experience we have found that this has resulted in orders being approved much more quickly than they were on the old paper based system.

What if an agreement cannot be reached?

In the event that you and your spouse are unable to agree how your assets are best divided between you then our Solicitors can advise you of your options and guide you through the process of exchanging full and frank financial disclosure with your spouse, advise you regarding appropriate and fair settlement options and negotiate on your behalf with your spouse or their instructed Solicitor in the hope of achieving a settlement. We also have close relationships with local Mediation providers and can make a referral to them if this is appropriate and you wish to engage in mediation with your spouse.

In the event that the Court’s involvement is required to achieve a financial settlement between you and your spouse then we are able to make the relevant application to the Court on your behalf, which again is made through the Court’s online system and thereafter we will represent you within those proceedings.

When can I think about re-marriage?

It is particularly important that you resolve the division of the marital assets between yourself and your spouse before you remarry to ensure that you do not fall into what is known as the “re-marriage trap”.

The “re-marriage trap” is where if you re-marry without finalising the financial & property matters arising from your marriage then you would be barred from applying to the Court for lumps sum orders, property adjustment orders or spousal maintenance orders against your spouse. This could leave you very vulnerable with yours and your children’s needs possibly not having been met and being unable to pursue those matters further through the Court due to your re-marriage.

It is therefore very important that if you have completed your divorce yourself that you ensure that you take legal advice well in advance of your remarriage, as ideally all the financial and property matters arising from your marriage will be finalised by way of a Court Order before you were to remarry, as this avoids you falling into the “re-marriage trap”.

If it turns out that it is simply not possible to finalise all financial and property matters before your remarriage, due to time constraints for example, then at the very least an application for financial relief should be filed with the Court on your behalf prior to your remarriage, which would protect your financial claims when you remarry.

If you were the Petitioner in your divorce and you had a Solicitor dealing with your divorce then they would have made sure that this application was included in your Divorce Petition. However, if it was not (for example because you did your own divorce and did not know to make this application) or if you are the Respondent in the divorce then a separate application will need to be made to the Court and your application issued by the Court before your remarriage in order to protect your financial claims. It is important to note that a claim to receive spousal maintenance from your spouse cannot be pursued after remarriage however and this would have had to have been ordered before your remarriage.

It is therefore very important to take independent legal advice sooner rather than later in respect of financial matters arising from your marriage and subsequent divorce – especially if you have completed your divorce yourself and our dedicated team of Family Law Solicitors at Browell Smith & Co. can guide you through this process.

Contact our Family Law Solicitors today!

You can find out more about our divorce services & how to deal with the division of your marital assets from Browell Smith & Co’s family law team here.

Contact our expert team today to arrange a no-obligation chat at any of our offices, in Newcastle Cramlington Ashington and Sunderland, or alternatively telephone our team directly to discuss your particular requirements.

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