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Considering untying the knot? The first things you need to know about divorce

January is traditionally a busy time for divorces. In fact, the first day back at work in January, which this year is 5 January, is nicknamed ‘Divorce Day’ by lawyers – the day in the year divorce proceedings are most likely to start.

If you are thinking about divorcing, it can seem like a daunting time. But there are things you can do to make sure you are armed with the correct information to help tackle divorce practicalities.

Here are six things you should consider.

1. Work out how much professional help you need

Do you need a solicitor? The answer depends on how complicated your finances are – and how amicable your split is. If you part on good terms and your finances aren’t too complicated, you don’t necessarily need one. You could arrange everything on your own or by using an online service, if you live in England or Wales.

If you do need more help, you can arrange for advice from a solicitor or mediator and do the paperwork yourself.  Find out more about DIY divorce with our guide.

2. Don’t bury your head in the sand

It can be tempting to ignore them but short-term finances are just as important as long term ones. Try to reach an agreement about paying things such as bills as soon as you can because ignoring them could have implications for your credit rating or get you into debt.

Plus, being able to agree on the smaller things puts you in a better position to reach agreement about the ‘bigger’ financial issues later on.

3. Be prepared for the cost

Divorce costs can be expensive, and unless you qualify for state help, it is something you and your ex-partner have to be prepared to pay for.

Whether or not you have to pay court fees will be dependent on your level of income and savings. Solicitor’s fees can add up, but if you are unable to pay upfront, there are other options. You should be wary of taking out a high interest loan however, as you may have trouble repaying it at a time when you are getting used to a change in your financial situation.

4. Protect yourself and your finances

Don’t forget to think about your own finances too. You will need to act quickly to protect them if the divorce is acrimonious.

If the home you shared is registered in your ex-partner’s name, you can register your interest to ensure it isn’t sold or re-mortgaged without you being told.

However, you should be aware that this doesn’t apply in Scotland. You have the right to live in the property for as long as you are married or in a civil partnership, but you will lose this right if you leave the property for two years or more.

5. Don’t ignore your full mortgage payments

If you have a joint mortgage, don’t forget that you are equally liable for the whole loan – not just repaying your half. So, if you keep up with your mortgage payments, but your partner doesn’t, you could find that both your credit ratings are affected.

Equally, if you have a joint bank account, you should inform your bank straightaway – if your partner racks up any debt,  you will both be liable for it.

Find out more about protecting your financial assets.

6. Call in an impartial third party

Agreeing the financial terms of a divorce can be a long process.

A mediator can help you and your ex-partner to reach an agreement. A solicitor can also help you with this process, but if you require a lot of time with them, it can make reaching a settlement an expensive undertaking – so it is best to avoid arguing with your partner through a solicitor as much as possible.

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