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Divorce and Legal Advice in Middle Age

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 8 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Divorce Legal Advice Middle Age Custody

Divorce is a sad reality for many people in middle age, but they must be sure that they seek sound legal advice when settling on terms about custody, child support, and equitable distribution of property. By teaming with a lawyer specializing in family law, those in midlife can be assured that their needs will be represented as they manoeuvre their way through the divorce process.

Custody, Visitation, and Child Support

Agreeing on divorce terms can be quite difficult, as emotions are sure to be running high, but those who have kids must keep their wits about them as they decide on issues regarding the care and welfare of the children. Custody arrangements, as well as visitation rights for the non-custodial parent can be the most disputed part of divorce proceedings, because each parent is likely to have different ideas about what is in the best interest of the children.

Child support may be another sticking point, but it is best if each person, along with their lawyers, makes the effort to be reasonable in negotiations. Even after a divorce is finalised, ex-spouses who share children will be forever tied to one another to a least some degree.

Legal Grounds for Divorce

In the UK, the court will only grant a divorce after receiving evidence that the union has been "irretrievably broken down." Causes for such a decision include the following:
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Unreasonable Behaviour
  • Separation of Five Years
  • Separation of Two Years, if both parties agree

Once a petition for divorce has been filed, the petitioner (the person who filed) and the respondent (the other spouse) can either handle the details themselves by using managed divorce do-it-yourself forms, or more commonly, by hiring lawyers to represent them and be sure that their rights are being honoured.

Contested Divorce Versus Non-Contested Divorce

If the respondent agrees to a divorce, the proceedings are typically fairly straightforward, especially if the couple doesn't have children or large amounts of property. All divorces go through a two step process, the first being decree nisi. A decree nisi is granted when the court is satisfied that grounds for divorce have been clearly established.

The second step, decree absolute, finalises the divorce, making it irrevocable. Simple, non-contested divorces can be finalised in as little as 4-6 months from the date that the petition is filed, but complicated divorces may take a much longer time.

Battling over children and property can take a great deal of time, but it's important that both parties voice their wishes at this time, because once the final divorce decree has been issued, the terms cannot be changed. Sound legal advice is imperative, because learning years later that you had additional rights is sure to cause additional resentment.

Divorce With Decency

Family law lawyers often have horrible tales to tell about couples who allowed their bitterness toward one another to consume them, making it all but impossible to come to settlements that seemed reasonable and fair. That is bad enough when the process involves only two adults, but oftentimes, divorcing couples cause their children unnecessary hurt by fighting incessantly about custody, visitation, and child support.

It is important, of course, that couples look out for their own interests as they go through divorce proceedings, but when they are parents, they must remember to prioritise the needs of their children above their own.

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