Divorce, or civil partnership dissolution, is a stressful time and it can be difficult to know where to start.

The Isle of Man Courts website provides useful guidance and forms for the divorce/dissolution itself. An advocate can guide you through the process.

Arrangements for care of children will be a priority. If a family agrees, a court order will not be needed, unless this is something parties particularly want.

If a couple cannot agree on the best arrangements for children, mediation should be considered and/or advocates can assist with negotiation. Advocates can provide information about mediation, which is a process to help people reach agreement without going through court.

If a court application is needed, the court is required to prioritise the welfare of the children. Specific issues such as travel or name changes of children often arise.

Financial arrangements will need to be made. In the majority of cases, couples agree how to divide their finances, often with assistance from advocates and/or mediation. If not, a court may be asked to decide. Once agreed, it is critical to obtain a court order to confirm the arrangements. Without that, one party could apply to court for financial provision in the future, even decades later.

Both parties are entitled to a financial settlement that is fair and reasonable in all circumstances of the case. What is "fair and reasonable" is not always clear and can cover many different factors that parties may not have considered such as financial needs now and in the future, earning capacity, health, etc.

Particular rules apply to pensions and inheritance.

Parties are entitled to information from each other regarding financial matters, to ensure that a settlement is fair and reasonable.

It may be necessary to take measures to protect assets from being sold or moved.

It is therefore critical to obtain legal advice to ensure that you and your family are protected in the short, medium and long term. Even if you have agreed financial matters, there may be something important that you have overlooked.

If there are business assets, trusts, or overseas assets, it is important to obtain advice from advocates with knowledge and experience in those areas. At Simcocks we have a team of experts in family, commercial, trust and property law to enable the best possible advice to be provided.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.