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What to expect when you're expecting (a Divorce)

Our People - Loretta Orsi-Barzanti
13 April, 2016

I love being a divorce lawyer. I really do. I’ve worked in family law firms as an outdoor clerk, a paralegal, a trainee solicitor and as a solicitor, so it’s fair to say that over the last 10 years or so, I’ve seen “the good the bad and the ugly” of divorces.

Divorce can bring out both the best and worst in people got an opinion on it…. so here’s what to expect from a divorce:

SHALL I, SHAREN’T I?

You will go through a lot of deliberation as to whether or not to get a divorce.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been married, it will leave you with sleepless nights that no amount of under eye-serum can cover up.

At first you’ll think “yes, I’m going to do it” and then you’ll come home and a lovingly cooked meal will be on the table and everything seems to be going alright and then something will happen, mostly likely something really small, and you’ll change your mind again.

You will go round in circles, wondering whether it’s right or wrong; what the neighbours will say; how your mother-in-law will react….etc etc.

The truth of it is, it doesn’t matter what the neighbours will say. The only thing that does matter is your own happiness.

SHOULD I GET A SOLICITOR?

Some people choose to do their divorce themselves, others decide to instruct solicitors and there are a few who mix and match. Whilst paying solicitors can seem expensive, I have seen many people who have started their divorce, done it incorrectly and then come to me for help.

In my experience, this has only increased their costs and the time it has taken. This is not to say this is true for everyone. A lot of people do manage to start and finalise their divorce with minimal fuss on their own. If you think you need help, ask for it!

WHO PAYS THE COURT FEE?

That’s right, not only do you have to pay the lawyers to sort out the divorce itself, but there’s a £410 court fee. That’s a lot of money just to pay the court, and it might be going up to £510!

It’s definitely a lot of money when you’ve already paid for a wedding, a place to live and just generally getting by day to day. So, invariably, you will fight, with your soon to be ex, on who pays this. Just be careful of wasting so much time and energy fighting over the court fee, it pales into insignificance in comparison to the stress it can cause.

SPOUSES ARE GENERALLY NOT VERY NICE

It’s true, you loved them once upon a time, but now they are acting like a toad and there is nothing you want more than to see them suffer. I’ve heard this time and time again.

Some times its true and sometimes it isn’t.

The fact of the matter is that divorce is an awful time and people’s characters change. The likelihood is one or other or both of you are grieving for a marriage that no longer exists and their way of dealing with it is through anger. Most of the time this does pass, but in some cases it doesn’t.

YOU WILL FIGHT OVER WHO GETS WHAT

You would be surprised how many people fight over the contents of the house. I’ve seen it all….fighting over bath towels, arguing over the cutlery and debating over the sofa!

Who gets the odd fork and walks away with “more”? After all it’s the little victories that win the war. Right?

I can tell you that most people do fight over the little things and of course the big things too. This is normal. That being said, the cost of fighting over these things through solicitors, is usually more than the item is worth and you would probably be better off financially, going and buying these items brand new.

THEY’VE ONLY GONE AND GOT THEMSELVES A NEW PARTNER

You don’t want to think about it but the time will come when the person you once loved finds themselves a new partner. The likelihood of being warned in advance by your ex (moral high ground….what’s that?) is slim. You’re most likely going to bump into them at the most inopportune moment – probably on a Saturday morning, in the supermarket, when you’re in a tracksuit and still have bed hair. My advice, take it on the chin, vent to your friends about it and let it go.

WHO KEEPS THE DOG?

We all love the dog, of course we do. But having a dog comes with perks and a whole heap of disadvantages. Sure, we like the cuddles on the sofa when it’s dark and drizzly outside as we snuggle in front of the fire watching Coronation Street. But, and here’s a big BUT, do we really want to go and walk the same dog in the same weather conditions? No, probably not. The argument that started out, “I want him”, “no I want him”, will quickly turn into “you have him”, “NO! You have him.

THE KIDS

This is the real fight.

I’m a mum and all the other parents out there will tell you that it doesn’t matter how many snotty noses you have to wipe, tears you have to dry, cheerios you have to pick out of your hair after a vigorous breakfast or whinging you have to listen to about (not) clearing up their room, you will always want your children with you.

You will fight, tears will be shed and more often than not the children will get caught up in the cross fire.

The important thing to remember is that it’s not the children’s fault. Both of you love the children equally so it’s best to see if you can reach an agreement which suits the children most. Sometimes an agreement really can’t be reached so seek help from solicitors or a mediator to see what can be done.

MY FRIEND GOT EVERYTHING OUT OF THE DIVORCE – WHY DIDN’T I?

Your friend is probably a liar and you should probably get new friends.

No, seriously….this is a myth!

No one ever gets everything. EVER!

Yes, they probably got a good deal, but no court in the land is going to give one party everything and leave the other party destitute (unless there are severely extreme circumstances which are really very rare).

The majority of cases are going to be fairly straightforward and by crude approximation the vast majority of financial splits can range between 50/50 and 70/30.

BUT [INSERT NAME OF FAMOUS PERSON HERE] GOT A DIVORCE IN 59 SECONDS…CAN’T I HAVE ONE?

No, and No.

You can have a divorce in 59 seconds when my pet unicorn comes with me to work and drafts the divorce petition.

Head of Family (Private Law)
Loretta Orsi-Barzanti is an associate solicitor and head of our Private Family Team. She advises on all aspects of Public and Private Law.

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