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What can’t you do during a divorce?

Many people ask their family solicitor what they should or should not do during a divorce. Every case is unique and it is always advised to take advice specific to your circumstances. However, some general guidance can apply to every case.

Can I date, or start a new relationship?

In short, yes you can. It is worth being mindful, though, that if the relationship becomes serious, particularly if you move in together, you may need to disclose your new partner’s financial situation and this could be taken into account in the overall outcome.

If I have another relationship, could I be accused of committing adultery?

Adultery means sexual relationships outside of marriage. Adultery is not a crime and is not something a court would take into account when dealing with the finances – contrary to what some people may think. For divorces that have been or will be commenced before 6th April 2022, adultery may be cited in a divorce petition and the person that the adultery was allegedly committed with can even be named. This will no longer be possible after 6th April 2022 when the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 comes into force.

Can I contest a divorce?

Under the current ‘fault based’ divorce system, yes, you can legally contest a divorce in some circumstances. However, it is worth bearing in mind that contested divorces can cost more and will potentially involve you having to attend at least one court hearing. The most common reason for defended divorces is that the Respondent objects to the allegations made in the petition as to his/her behaviour or adultery.

When the new ‘no fault’ divorce legislation comes into force in April 2022, the option to contest a divorce will be removed. That said, a respondent who does not agree to a divorce going ahead because of religious or other valid reasons will still be able to make this known to the court.

General tips/tricks for what not to do during a divorce

Until the divorce is completed, the Decree Absolute granted and the finances fully resolved, it is best to (amongst other things):

  • Try to avoid conflict.  Aim to keep things amicable where you can. This is best for both parties and any children involved. Our solicitors are all members of Resolution – a national body of family practitioners who promote non-confrontational approaches to family matters.
  • Avoid attempting to conceal assets – this only ends up being most costly and problematic long-term.
  • Respect your ex-partner’s privacy and property, as you would expect them to respect yours in return.
  • Avoid sharing details of your divorce on social media. In some cases these can be used as evidence against you. Family proceedings in court are generally heard ‘in private’ and so, if you post details of these online, particularly where children are involved, you could be committing a crime.
  • Avoid making your children aware of any conflict between their parents – above all this will be distressing for them.
  • Avoid changing your spending behaviour or withdrawing money from a joint bank account without agreement or authorisation.
  • Above all – look after yourself. Take time out to care for your mental wellbeing, and consider seeking support from a professional. Divorce is an incredibly difficult process and needing help does not mean that you are failing.

For more information tailored to your circumstances, we would recommend contacting a legal professional. We can offer legal advice for divorce, and our team of experienced divorce specialists will work with you every step of the way.

Having graduated in July 2017 with a first class honours degree in law from the University of Bedfordshire, Holly has since been exploring her interest in Family Law. She is currently undertaking her postgraduate LPC and masters course to qualify as a family solicitor. Holly joined Hawkins Family Law in August 2017. She has previously volunteered with public legal advice services and currently is enjoying a new challenge having recently begun a paralegal role at Hawkins Family Law.

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