The Importance of instructing legal representation in divorce proceedings: why you need the right divorce lawyer
Separations are never easy, no matter the circumstances. Whereas the start of a relationship brings with it a sense of belonging, sentiment and consideration, the end of a relationship can, unhappily, leave a feeling of bitterness, dislike or angst. Decision-making often suffers at a time when emotions run high and vulnerability sets in. While it is possible for a party to choose to represent their own interests following a separation, the lack of legal representation will often prove more detrimental in the long-run. This is where a professional, dedicated and experienced family lawyer can make all the difference.
The complexities of divorce proceedings
With the overhaul of Gibraltar matrimonial law in August 2019, Gibraltar has seen the introduction of ‘no fault’ divorces which have reimagined the nature and scope of divorce proceedings. It is no longer possible to file divorce proceedings on the basis of any shortcoming or serious matrimonial or criminal infraction that may have taken place during the course of the marriage. Gone are the days of having to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that a party has been unfaithful, or that the petitioning party had been subjected to any form of unreasonable behaviour which makes it impossible for the parties to cohabit any longer. Proceedings may now be filed, simply, on the basis of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and may be commenced after 12 months of marriage.
Contrary to popular belief, the amendments to Gibraltar matrimonial law do not make proceedings any less complicated, particularly in the context of a marriage involving children and/or questions as to the division of financial assets that require resolution. Such factors do, more often than not, result in a considerable measure of disagreement that can allow the simplest of separations to unfold into the most complex of proceedings.
At the commencement of any divorce, and throughout any proceedings in which the court may be asked to determine any question regarding the (a) upbringing of a child; or (b) the administration of a child’s property or the application of any income arising from it, the court will be duty bound to ensure that its first and paramount consideration is the welfare of any such child. When commencing proceedings, a petitioner will be required to file, amongst other documents, a ‘Statement of Arrangements for Children’ which sets out the specific present and future arrangements for any children to the marriage, whether biological children of both parties, any other children who have been treated by both of the parties as children of the family, or any children born to either of the parties who have not been treated as children of the family. At the preliminary appointment hearing, which both parties must attend, the court may, of its own initiative or otherwise, make any interim order in respect of the residence, contact or maintenance of any such children. In any such proceedings, a sensible and sensitive lawyer who is experienced in dealing with child-related proceedings will help to ensure that the divorce progresses without any unnecessary complications that will ultimately impact upon the lives of any children of the parties.
The petitioner shall be required to indicate, in their petition, what orders they shall be requesting the court to make as proceedings progress. A respondent who files an acknowledgment of service may equally indicate what relief they shall be claiming. Once a petition has been filed, either party shall be at liberty to commence proceedings for financial relief. Notwithstanding, unless the parties agree otherwise, both parties are required to file a full statement of their financial information in which they will be expected to produce full and frank disclosure of all income earned; all property owned, whether legally or beneficially; bank statements; business interests and investments, amongst other matters. Upon financial proceedings being commenced, parties will be required to produce questionnaires of each other’s disclosure, and to define the issues that they will require the court to determine at a final hearing. The more intricate a parties’ finances and marital assets are, the more indispensable that a practiced and knowledgeable legal practitioner will be.
An objective and practical approach
Having the right lawyer from the outset helps to provide parties with an objective, expert opinion on how best to navigate the waters in any dispute. The higher the emotional demand becomes, the more invaluable that having an expert opinion will be.
Getting the right lawyer is a long-term investment. At ISOLAS LLP, we pride ourselves with offering the right advice that is tailored to each individual client, always ensuring that a client’s specific circumstances are considered and that a client’s rights, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of any proposed approach, are carefully considered before life-changing decisions are made. We offer client-focused advice that is aimed at reducing costs and protecting our clients’ interests. Our lawyers are trained and effective dispute resolution practitioners who tailor their services towards achieving an amicable resolution where possible, thereby avoiding protracted legal proceedings.