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on to someone new (as far as I am aware!). We just don’t know what the next steps are from here. We feel we should see a solicitor, but we are both concerned that solicitors will want to pit us against each other so that our relationship becomes acrimonious and our divorce more expensive than it needs to be. We have discussed in outline some preliminary plans about what we will do with our house and other assets and we are agreed on these. What do you suggest?


that you only had this conversation with your wife last week and I wonder whether you ought to take at least a bit more time to consider whether there is anything you and your wife could do to explore whether there is any way to improve and save your relationship? Perhaps taking up a new hobby or interest together or getting to know each other’s friends? Is there something you used to enjoy doing together, or a place you enjoyed staying which you could revisit? Or even watching television together. It might be that with some small steps you can reconnect. It is really important you both understand fully how you feel about the breakdown of the marriage and whether it is something you both definitely want. You might even wish to speak to Relate or someone you know about how you feel. I have known many couples that have benefitted from going to counselling together, even if it was something they would not normally do or feel reticent about trying. You can find out more about Relate at http://www.relate.org.uk/. It may be that now you have had the discussion about separating it will help you to communicate and you should not feel under any pressure to make any final decisions quickly. It is much more important you and your wife have space and time to consider this decision carefully because as you have rightly identified, it is likely to significantly affect you and your wife, your finances as well as your wider family. If you do, however, come to the conclusion that your marriage is over then again, as you suggest, it should be possible to move things on amicably and constructively. I would advise you and your


A


It is sad when any relationship breaks down, but particularly one that has endured for so long. I see


wife both see solicitors who are members of Resolution. Resolution is an association of family solicitors who have signed up to a code of conduct to resolve family disputes in a constructive and non- confrontational way wherever possible. Members of Resolution encourage solutions to consider the needs of the whole family. You can find out more about Resolution at http://www.resolution.org.uk/. All solicitors have a duty to act in their client’s best interests. This means we have a duty to point out if we feel the agreement you have reached is unfair, or that if you went to court you may get a better deal. However, solicitors must also act on your instructions and if you and your wife are both content with the agreement you have reached then you can instruct your solicitor to draw up the agreement reached anyway. The only point I would make is that if any agreement is manifestly unfair to one of you, then the court may not approve it, but that would be unusual and in any event your solicitor would point out a few changes to the agreement which would make it fairer, or which would make it work better overall. It might be you can avoid or reduce Capital Gains Tax on any transfers of assets. You can then decide if you want to speak to your wife as to whether she would agree those changes. In this way you can keep the whole process amicable and minimise the involvement of solicitors, including the need for any solicitors’ correspondence. If you just wish to separate in the short


term, then you can do that and you do not need any official documents to do so. However, it is often sensible to have in place a Separation Agreement in which the agreement you have reached is drawn up into a document so you and your wife both know where you stand financially while you are separated. If in the future you decide to get divorced this could be drawn up into a final order to separate your finances permanently. Often couples will have a Separation Agreement drawn up and will agree to wait two years to divorce so they can use the reason of ‘two years’ separation with consent’ to divorce without having to set out examples of the other person’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’. A separation may give you both a bit of space to see if there is a future to the marriage before the finality of a divorce.


I should say, however, that if you and your


wife have decided you definitely wish to get divorced, or will wish to in the future, then I would suggest getting on with the divorce rather than drawing up a Separation Agreement and waiting two years to divorce. This enables both of you to move on with your lives as soon as possible. Also a Separation Agreement may not be binding on you if there have been significant changes and then you would have to re- negotiate a financial settlement which could be difficult and costly. In order to be able to move forward with a divorce sensibly, we can agree the contents of the divorce petition with your wife so you are both content with them. We can then draft your settlement into a final financial order, again by agreement, so the divorce and finances are finalised as quickly and inexpensively as possible. There are different paths you could choose


at the moment, but a good family solicitor will provide guidance to find the right one for you.


• essence info


Mundays LLP Sarah Duckworth and Eleanora Newbery can be contacted on 01932 590500 or at sarah.duckworth@mundays.co.uk or Eleanora.newbery@mundays.co.uk. This article is for information only, it does not intend to provide legal advice. Mundays LLP accepts no responsibility for loss which may occur from reliance on information contained in this article. For more information on divorce and family matters or to discover more about the personally tailored service Mundays can offer or Mundays’ mediation service please contact a member of the Mundays Family department. Mundays LLP, Cedar House, 78 Portsmouth Road, Cobham KT11 1AN Telephone: 01932 590500


More information about Resolution, Mediation, Collaborative Law and Arbitration can be found at: www.mundays.co.uk www.resolution.org.uk www.thefma.co.uk www.collabfamilylawsurrey.co.uk www.ifla.org.uk


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