The Divorce Process
The divorce process can take some 5-6 months or even longer depending on the case, on whether children are involved, on the value and complexity of the assets that must be divided and on whether the couple is able to reach an amicable agreement. It is recommended that, where possible, the couple decide between themselves how their joint assets should be divided before hiring a mediator or arbitrator to document their settlement.
If you are unable to reach a mutually satisfactory decision with your spouse, you will need to engage the services of a lawyer. The lawyer will negotiate with your spouse’s lawyer to find a suitable way to divide the assets. This may be done by an equitable, fifty-fifty distribution but, if children are involved, the custodial parent should receive more money as his or her needs will be higher. Child support will also be required from the non-custodial parent in order to help maintain the children.
Lawyers can make settlements outside of the courts, but Court proceedings come into play if the parties are unable to reach a suitable arrangement.
You will also need to file divorce papers with the High Court Registry which will cost about $25.00. Stamp fees are paid to the Attorney General’s Chambers but the documents are filed at the High Court Registry. These documents include the initial petition which costs about $2.40 to file and a statement of claim which costs $1.20. If the divorce is contentious, and the statement of claims needs to be changed after it was originally filed, each new filing will cost $1.20. This filing is followed by the filing of an exhibit requiring a stamp fee of 25 cents and this is followed by an affidavit which costs about 84 cents. These are then followed by requisite certificates which cost $1.20. Persons can request that they receive a stamped copy of the filings by including extra copies.
Once you have identified a divorce lawyer or mediator you should prepare yourself to answer the following questions:
- The reason you are filing for divorce.
- Whether you are living apart from your spouse and when you separated.
- The names and ages of any children who are part of the family.
- The children’s current and future living arrangements.
- The current contact arrangements between parents and children.
- A list of your assets, savings, income and pension.
- A list of your spouse’s assets, savings, income and pension.
- Details of any ongoing problems, including debts, or substance abuse.
You will be asked to walk with documentation and/or specific evidence to support your claims for divorce. You will also need to have:
- Your marriage certificate.
- Certificates and appraisals that support and accompany your list of assets, savings, income and pension.
Divorce can have a greater financial impact on your finances than buying a house or even retiring. It is important that you get an understanding of what you are entitled to in any divorce settlement. It may be helpful to employ a financial analyst to properly assess the value of your assets and those of your spouse to ensure a fair settlement distribution.
After the Divorce
The first couple months after a divorce can be the toughest as you adjust to a completely new lifestyle and new income level. It is important to make a budget and to stick to it to ease your adjustment to the financial changes. You may now become responsible for rental, insurance and other payments which your spouse may have taken care of, so these must be reflected in your personal budget. If it becomes necessary to cut back on some luxuries to make ends meet, try to work that into your budget so that you can meet your obligations.
You may also need to establish a bank account in your own name. Make sure that joint insurance policies have been taken care of.