People are very happy and excited when they hear wedding bells ringing, as a wedding is a cause for celebration. Often the planning for the occasion takes many months in order to secure a venue, arrange the catering, choose the wedding dress, send out the invitations and then finally, prepare for the big day. The costs of the wedding are often very high and the families have to dig deep into their pockets to ensure they are covered and the event is a success.
The marriage vows are given and taken and the happy couple set off for their honeymoon.
Sometimes the happiness wears off and the couple drifts apart and decides to get divorced. This is unfortunate but it is a fact of life.
A divorce, like a wedding, will be what the couple make of it. Divorces can be extremely expensive and acrimonious or they can be handled in a manner that helps keep the costs down and assists in retaining some level of friendship and respect between the parties as they face the future as individuals once again.
If there are minor children in the family, it is essential for the couple to ensure that the children are not negatively affected by the breakdown of their parents’ relationship and the ultimate splitting of the family unit. No matter what the issues are that have given rise to the problems in the relationship, the children should not be drawn into the matter and the parties should agree to show each other a level of mutual respect in the presence of the children throughout the process.
When a divorce looms, there are numerous issues for the couple to consider, such as child maintenance, spousal maintenance, care and contact arrangements with the children and the division of assets. A prudent approach is to discuss the various issues together in a fair and responsible manner and to see if an amicable agreement can be reached. Often such a meeting may not result in a full agreement, but it will have the benefit of determining the issues that can be agreed upon and the issues that will require professional assistance.
Outstanding issues may be canvassed in mediation with a qualified mediator agreed upon by the parties and the outstanding issues may successfully be resolved with the assistance of the mediator over a number of mediation sessions.
In the event that the mediation is successful, and an agreement has been reached, the parties can then set about instructing an attorney to prepare the necessary documents to initiate and formalise the divorce through the Courts.
The benefits of a mutually agreed settlement are tremendous. After all, the agreement to marry was based on mutual interest and so the agreement to terminate the marriage should likewise be based on mutual interest. Apart from saving on potentially crippling legal expenses, a mutually agreed settlement often has the benefit of ensuring that the children are not unduly affected by negative fallout between the parties and a semblance of friendship and respect between the parties may be maintained.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the parties will both require independent legal assistance and the process may be a long, difficult and expensive one.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)