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If you find yourself in a contentious divorce, you need a strategy and a team of people to help you. This is not something you can fight alone. One of our specialist divorce lawyers has put together some top tips for improving your prospects of success if you are facing a courtroom dispute.

Assemble your team

First off, get an experienced divorce lawyer; look for one with experience of handling contentious cases that have ended in court. Your lawyer will be the voice of reason and help you create the strategy you need to get the best outcome. You may need to involve a variety of experts including financial advisors, surveyors, forensic accountants, a good lawyer will be able to guide you on who you need to call upon and when. Ask your friends and family for support, although please do leave the legal advice to your lawyer. Counselling can also be invaluable to help you manage the negative emotions and anger about the proceedings – keeping you calmer and focused on the case.

Understand what assets you both have

Do not assume that your ex-partner will be honest and up-front about their assets. Create an all-inclusive schedule of the assets of the marriage. If you think assets are being hidden speak to a forensic accountant (we have a team in-house) who trace and quantify hidden assets and bring them to light. However be careful not to break any rules when looking into your spouse’s assets. If you are considering hiding assets – don’t do it. They are likely to be found, it will leave you discredited in the eyes of the court and it could have an adverse effect on the final settlement.

Try to avoid moving out of the marital home

If you have children and expect to remain in the family home after the divorce try not to move out. It is important for the children to have stability and routine in what can be a very confusing and uncertain time. That said don’t live your life for the litigation. If it is unsafe or simply unbearable to remain there consider other options. Speak to your lawyer before making any decision. Moving out does not affect your financial claims but tactically you may be put at a disadvantage if your spouse is happy living in the house with the children now that you have moved out.

Understand the strengths and weaknesses to your case

There are very few cases in a family dispute where the outcome is obvious and there is as single right answer. Judges have a wide discretion to allocate assets on divorce as they think is fair to the circumstances of the case. If you think you are right then it is very likely that your spouse will think he or she is right as well. In that case if a Judge has to decide the outcome, either one of you wrongly believed you were right, you were both wrong or the answer actually lay somewhere between what you both thought was right. A good lawyer will advise you what your good and bad points are. Sometimes that advice will be something you will not want to hear but it is important that you do so that you understand what your chances are of achieving what you hope to achieve. If your case isn’t strong then you need to settle it and avoid a final hearing.

Be a reliable witness

Often if the case gets to a final hearing then you will be expected to give spoken evidence in court, answering questions of the barristers and of the judge. They will ask you questions about the information and disclosure you have previously given. If that information wasn’t accurate then you can be sure that your spouse’s barrister will seek to discredit you and suggest to the Judge that your evidence cannot be relied upon. If you are advancing unreasonable arguments then your spouse’s barrister will either be trying to persuade you that you are being unreasonable or to demonstrate to the judge that you are being unreasonable. If you are honest from the outset you don’t need to worry about being “tripped up”. Discuss the pros and cons of your case with your legal team in advance, be prepared for any questions that will be thrown at you.

Be smart, be commercial and not emotional

It is very important to approach a divorce with a rational and logical mind to make the best decisions for you and the family. This is where your divorce team comes in. A lawyer, financial advisors, a counsellor etc can help you to avoid emotionally charged decision making and instead focus on the battle in hand. It is too easy to make decisions based on how you feel about your spouse or out of a desire to get this awful time over with as quickly as possible, you are making decisions that could affect the rest of your life. At the same time you always need to consider the costs you are incurring against the value of the benefit you are trying to achieve. Be willing to compromise without giving away too much.

How can we help you?

At Stowe Family Law, we have a wealth of experience in dealing with these types of cases. If you find yourself in a contentious divorce or dispute you will need a lawyer who is robust and fights your corner. Our lawyers are highly experienced in complex divorce cases often involving court proceedings, so we will have the right person for your case.

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