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Top 5 pitfalls that divorcing couples make

2 wedding rings on a tablecloth

If I had a super power, it would be the ability to turn back time. For years now, I have been a family law solicitor, and have found that I often encounter the same problems.

Clients come to me having rushed through a painful and over whelming divorce and have made a crucial mistake. In light of this, and because I sadly haven’t been blessed with my chosen super power, I thought I would highlight the most common mistakes I have noticed when a couple separates:-

1. Not getting a financial order.

With the new divorce procedure and online system, more people will deal with the divorce proceedings themselves. Individuals often believe the final dissolution order (formerly decree absolute) severs your financial ties. IT DOES NOT. Please forgive my shouty capitals, but it is so important that you understand this. If you have an agreement regarding how you will deal with your finances, you must obtain a financial order so you have a Clean Break. This will prevent future financial claims against you. You are vulnerable if you win the lottery; inherit some money or the value of your house increases due to a recent global pandemic. Time and money spent on a properly drafted Clean Break Order at the time you divorce will ensure that you can rest easy, knowing your ex cannot come back in the future and make a claim. Expensive and stressful future court proceedings can be avoided. Turning back time is unfortunately not an option.

2. Re-marrying before the finances have been resolved.

This is genuinely one of my worst nightmares. My stomach lurches when a client innocently informs me they have booked their wedding before the final dissolution order (now decree absolute). It is vital to know that if you re-marry without a financial order, you may lose your right to apply for one. You cannot rely on the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, which is uniquely designed to focus on fairness. Instead, applications would need to be made under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. This law is strict and unforgiving, especially when there are children. Randomly and happily, pension claims can still be made after re-marriage. However, this is little comfort especially if the main asset is the house.

3. Agreeing to offset capital assets against child maintenance payments.

A paying party might give the primary carer a lump sum or a higher share of the marital assets, hoping to avoid ongoing child maintenance each month. The law does not allow this. It is impossible to avoid the Child Maintenance Service or have a clean break in relation to child maintenance. Despite the lump sum paid, you will still have to pay maintenance.

4. Taking legal advice on your separation from family or friends.

Friends and family are invaluable support for when navigating the emotional rollercoaster that a divorce can be. However, their experience is completely different to yours and each case is unique. The only person you should be taking legal advice from is a qualified solicitor.

5. Believing that your friends are the only people that can see your social media posts.

NEVER (sorry, it is necessary here too) post anything on social media, or indeed write anything in a text message or email, that you would not want a Judge to see in the future. The truth is out there!

Get in touch

If you would like advice or help avoiding any of these common mistakes, or have any other family law issues, please do contact me on 01924 291122 or email me at

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Rachel SteadRachel Stead
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My wife and I engaged Catteralls Solicitors conveyancing services to both sell our old house and to buy our new house. We can thoroughly recommend their services in this regard. In particular we would like to give excellent feedback to Ms Eleanor Parkin, our Conveyancing Executive at Catteralls, who dealt with us throughout the buying and selling process. Some aspects of that process became problematic but Eleanor went above and beyond that which was expected of her and ensured that any problems were resolved effectively and efficiently to ensure a smooth completion. Our engagement with her was always friendly and professional and we would be happy to recommend her professional services to others. Thank you, Eleanor!
Caroline WilsonCaroline Wilson
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Thank you Catteralls for helping us with our recent house sale!! I will certainly recommend you to family and friends.Catteralls would be the first solicitor I came to if I needed any help in the future! Thanks again for everything. Fantastic communication, making a hard time in our lives that much easier. I can not fault a thing.☺️
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Aneka RandallAneka Randall
17:04 09 Dec 22
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20:07 02 Nov 22
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