How to protect yourself during a divorce

by Nadine de Souza

Unfortunately, when relationships break down emotions can become strained and not all divorces are amicable. In these circumstances it's important that you protect yourself and ask the court to help you if you need it. You might need to protect yourself from violence or harassment. You might also need to protect your property or your income and finances. Our quick guide below shows you some of the ways in which you might need to protect yourself.

How to protect yourself from violence

If your spouse becomes violent, you should see a solicitor straight away or ring the police. You can ask the civil court to give you an injunction to keep your spouse away from you and to exclude them from your marital home for a period of time. If your spouse breaks this order, then they could go to prison. The police also have powers to deal with a spouse’s violence or threats by using the criminal law system.

How to protect yourself from harassment

You can get a non-molestation injunction through the civil court if your spouse continues to harass you, telephone you or visit the property where you are living. It prevents your spouse from harassing, assaulting or intimidating you and your children. The ultimate penalty for breaching this order is imprisonment. Alternatively, you can contact the police and see if they can help you.

How to protect your property

During a divorce it's possible that your spouse will try and hide assets from you so that you get a different impression of their finances. If you think that your spouse has assets that they are trying to conceal, transfer or put into trust, then you can ask the court to freeze those assets. You need to get as much information together about the assets as you can and, most importantly, their location. This is a complicated area of law and you will need to get a solicitor to help you. You need to seek their advice as quickly as possible once you discover that your spouse is trying to conceal assets.

If your marital home is only in the name of your spouse, you can protect yourself by registering a Notice in the Charges Register against the property to stop your spouse from selling or mortgaging the property. You have to complete Form HR1 Application for Registration of a Notice of Matrimonial Home Rights, if your property is registered land. If your property is unregistered land, you must register a Class F Land Charge at the Central Land Charges Registry in Plymouth. If you don’t register your interest, then your spouse could sell the property without you knowing about it.

If your spouse refuses to sell or leave the matrimonial home or consent to a divorce, then you could get the court to order the property to be sold. You would need to get a solicitor’s advice if you want to do this.

Although it's tempting to change the locks on your marital property to protect yourself, you can’t do this unless you obtain an injunction first to keep your spouse out of the house.

Protecting your income and financial security

If your spouse usually pays for the mortgage or rent and stops doing so, then you can apply to the court for all sorts of protection once a divorce petition is lodged. But what protection can you get before a divorce petition is lodged? You can only make an application for maintenance. The court usually looks to maintain the financial stability of both spouses and so your spouse will probably be required to pay temporary income until long-term arrangements can be made.

Help from Lawpack

All the divorce forms you need – and expert guidance on how to use them – can be found in Lawpack’s Separation & DIY Divorce Kit.

If you need assistance in completing the forms, then you can use our DIY Divorce Service who will complete them for you. With our Managed Divorce Service they will complete them and also file them at court for you.

If you want more in-depth information from a divorce lawyer about all aspects of divorce law then read our guide, How to Get a Divorce by Punam Denley. Packed with tips and expert advice to ensure that you get through the divorce process smoothly.

Other information


Published on: September 24, 2014

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