This is my 101st post on the subject of divorce, so I thought I would take the opportunity to give some basic advice to anyone contemplating taking that fateful step, or having it taken against them. So, here are my top ten tips for getting through the process as painlessly as possible:
1. If you wish to instruct a solicitor, choose one who is a member of Resolution. He/she should conduct the matter in a sensitive, constructive and cost-effective way, that is more likely to result in an agreement, rather than a court battle.
2. If you have children, try to agree arrangements for them with your spouse direct, including with whom they will live and what contact they will have with the other parent.
3. If you cannot agree matters, then consider going to mediation, where a trained mediator will try to help you and your spouse (if they agree to mediation) resolve all matters by agreement, including arrangements for any children and (if you wish) financial/property matters.
4. Try to agree the amount of child support that the parent with whom the children are not living should pay, bearing in mind the child support formula.
5. Try to avoid unnecessary animosity (and a possible court battle) by informing your spouse of the grounds for divorce, if possible, before issuing the divorce proceedings.
6. Similarly, think very hard before defending divorce proceedings issued against you by your spouse - it is extremely unlikely that you will be able to prevent the divorce, and all you are likely to achieve is to increase the costs.
7. When considering the financial/property settlement between yourself and your spouse, bear in mind that the starting point is equal division of assets, and that therefore this is the most likely outcome unless there are good reasons for one party to get more than half, for example that their needs are greater than the other party's needs.
8. Do not get bogged down in trivial matters, such as division of assets of little or no value - remember that the cost of arguing over such matters in court is likely to far exceed the value of the items concerned.
9. Don't forget pensions - they are often the second most valuable asset after the matrimonial home, and are also subject to the starting-point of equal division mentioned above.
10. The reasons for the breakdown of the marriage rarely have any effect upon the financial/property settlement, unless the conduct of your spouse has been exceptionally gross, so there is usually little point in arguing the issue of conduct in relation to financial/property matters.