Separation and Divorce – what you need to know

  • Insight

05 March 2019

No-one enters a marriage intending or planning to separate, however when you find yourself in this position it can help to know what you should be thinking about when you embark on the divorce process. For most couples a good starting point is to obtain some initial advice and then decide how best in their circumstances to resolve matters. Our practical guide can help illuminate the complicated path to divorce.

Get the right experts involved

There is little point in hiring the wrong lawyer to give you advice. Most solicitors now specialise in their area of the law and are recognised for doing so. But, divorce doesn’t always just mean advice from a divorce lawyer. It is sometimes necessary to involve lawyers with other areas of expertise such as property, business and tax advice. Sometimes advice is needed from a family lawyer in another country to make sure you are dealing with matters in the right place. As a full service law firm, we have a number of experts under one roof, connections with lawyers elsewhere in the world and also with other professionals such as divorce counsellors, accountants and financial advisors.

Don’t feel forced into raising court proceedings

In Scotland, we tend to try to work out the finances first before going anywhere near a court. That would either be as an exchange of financial information and a negotiated settlement or using another form of dispute resolution. What is agreed in terms of the finances and, if necessary the arrangements for care of children, would then form part of a written agreement, commonly referred to as a Minute of Agreement. We would then apply to the court for divorce.

Sometimes it is necessary to raise proceedings in court to preserve a position or deal with something urgently, but raising a court action is not always necessary at the start and you should have the chance to consider all other options so that you can decide on the best choice for you. 

Instruct a family law solicitor who is right for you

Unfortunately the divorce process can take some time and you will need to deal with your solicitor throughout the whole process. There is no harm in meeting a few solicitors to begin with to find the best fit for you – but remember – you will need to pay for the advice on each occasion.

Most firms offer a first meeting with a family lawyer at a fixed cost

Depending on how complicated your circumstances are there is a lot you can do to try to keep costs down such as gathering the relevant financial information yourself and trying mediation to sort out child care arrangements. However, it also remains sensible to know your own limits and when to involve the experts. The cost for our first meeting is £250 (excluding VAT).

We have a team of solicitors with differing years of experience. Because we work as a team we are able to decide early on the best person in terms of both experience to look after you.

Remember tax

People automatically think that they will not need to pay tax to transfer an asset to their spouse whilst they are still married. This is wrong. Transfers between spouses will be subject to capital gains tax on a disposal where you are transferring a property which is not the principal private residence outwith the tax year of separation (5 April to 5 April is a tax year). It is important to get advice on this at an early stage as timing can be everything when it comes to tax on divorce.

Advice where you are

It is important to make things easy for yourself. There is little point travelling from one side of the country to the other for legal advice.  We have specialist family lawyers in both Edinburgh and Glasgow so that you can get the best family law advice where you are.

Though divorce can often be a difficult period of time in your life, we work hard to make the process as straightforward as possible, to help you get to where you want to be.

For more information on separation and divorce, contact our Family Law experts.

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