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Legal Briefing with Juliet Phillips-James: Divorce

By Juliet Phillips-James, Director, Gomer Williams (as featured in the Llanelli Star)

Q: My husband and I separated six months ago. We both agree that it is time to get a divorce. My husband has suggested that we do the divorce ourselves to save money. We do not own a house together, so we have no finances to sort out. Could you advise in the circumstances whether it would be feasible to do the divorce ourselves, given that we do not have much money and we are amicable towards each other?

A: Whilst it is relatively straightforward to legally dissolve your marriage (i.e. divorce), it is a little known fact amongst the general public that financial claims between ex-husbands and wives can continue indefinitely unless a clean break order has been obtained.
A clean break order prevents either party from making a financial claim against the other in the future. You may think that this is irrelevant now as you do not have any assets. However, what if a couple of years down the line you win the lottery or come into inheritance for example?
Your then ex-husband could decide to make a claim against you, seeking a share in your capital. Whilst this may not seem fair this could happen if you do not sort out all aspects of your divorce.
Also if you remarry and you have not applied for a financial order you are prevented from making an application against your husband, however your husband would still be able to make a claim against you if he has not remarried.
I would advise that you consult a family solicitor to deal with all aspects of the divorce on your behalf. Matters can be dealt with amicably but your solicitor will ensure that all the provisions are in place to protect you in the long term.
Where there is agreement between you and your husband you may be able to do the divorce and resolve the financial aspect for a fixed fee, thus keeping the costs to a minimum.
Some expenditure now on legal costs could save a lot of cost and stress in the future.

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