We appreciate that separation can be a highly traumatic, emotional and stressful time. Whilst it may feel impossible, it is very important to try to take control of the situation and seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
We have prepared a comprehensive guide of practical steps you should take or consider taking when separating from your spouse or civil partner.
Separation can be as difficult as bereavement. It is therefore important to look after yourself. Eat well, exercise and spend time with your support network. Find a counsellor or therapist in an attempt to come to terms with the separation and manage your feelings. Our solicitors are able to refer you to therapists and/or counsellors if you feel you would benefit from this.
If domestic abuse is a feature of your relationship, consider contacting the Police, who can put you in touch with a domestic violence support worker. Our solicitors can also advise you on applying for an injunction, which could keep your spouse/civil partner away from you or require them to move out of the family home.
Emotions and tempers will be heightened at this difficult time. Avoid talking about adult issues or arguing in front of your children, as this can cause psychological distress in the short and long term. The welfare of your children should be at the forefront of your mind at all times. Ensure that you inform them of the separation sensitively.
If you have children, it is important to try and reach an agreement as to who is going to care for them and when. If one of you is the primary carer, try and agree when the other parent will have contact with the children. It is beneficial for the both of you (and the children) to try and agree on matters between yourselves, rather than involving solicitors and/or the courts. However, we appreciate that this is not always possible.
The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) are an independent organisation who offer a range of support services for separated families. You can visit their website for useful information and even devise your own parenting plan.
Know where you and your spouse/civil partner have bank accounts, building society accounts, insurance policies, stocks and shares, investments, pensions, properties, vehicles, collectables, expensive jewellery and any other assets. Know what your liabilities are, including mortgages, credit cards, store cards, secured loans, personal loans and any other liabilities.
You may be concerned that your spouse/civil partner will spend funds or create debt by causing a joint account to go into overdraft.
If there is a joint account, you may consider contacting the bank(s) and asking that they freeze the account. Some joint accounts will require joint signatures to authorise this. If you cannot get the consent of the other account holder, or the money is held in your spouse’s sole account, you may be in the position where you need to apply for a freezing injunction at court if you feel that there is a real risk that funds would otherwise be dissipated. You should contact one of our solicitors immediately if you consider that this action would be required.
Retrieve your marriage or civil partnership certificate. If you have lost this, you can obtain a copy from your local registry.
Your solicitor will require documentary evidence of your assets, income and liabilities.
Work out what your financial needs are, including the needs of any children. This will include monthly expenses such as rent/mortgage, council tax, utility bills, other household bills such as phone, internet and TV bills, food, clothing, school fees, and motoring costs including finance, insurance, tax, fuel, and repairs social activities. The list is non-exhaustive. Remember to include allowance for your legal fees.
Consider what advice you may need from other professionals such as accountants, Independent Financial Advisers or pensions experts. You may own a family business or a farm with your spouse/civil partner. You or your spouse/civil partner may be a sole trader or have interest in a limited company. Your solicitor can discuss the role of other experts with you.
The Family Law Team at Myerson offer an initial, no-obligation telephone consultation at no cost. Our solicitors are all members of Resolution, an organisation that commits them to resolving family disputes in a non-confrontational manner.
If you have any questions or would like more information regarding the steps to take when leaving a relationship, please contact our Family Law Team below.