Do you know where your marriage certificate is? If your wedding day feels like a distant memory – whether it’s a good or bad one – it can be easy to forget about the piece of paper that you received to certify the change of legal status. Your marriage certificate is a crucially important legal document, often required by authorities.
You should always keep your marriage certificate somewhere safe. If you do need to get a divorce, the person who has the marriage certificate can legally start the divorce proceedings, which usually gives them psychological control. This can be very important, for instance, to the survivor in an abusive relationship.
When you file for divorce you will need to provide either your original marriage certificate, or an official copy obtained from a registry office, or the church where you got married. If you don’t have your original certificate of marriage, or an official copy, we can obtain one for you. Depending on where and when you got married, this can take up to three weeks – in the meantime you may find that your spouse has beaten you to it and already submitted their divorce petition.
Why it’s important to file for divorce first
You cannot start divorce proceedings without a marriage certificate. The person who files the divorce petition first obtains a practical advantage. Being first to submit the divorce petition means that you can exert control over the speed at which your divorce progresses. The court fee to file for divorce in England and Wales is currently £550. Once the divorce petition forms have been submitted, you can begin to separate the finances.
For divorces with an international element (e.g. money, property, domicile abroad) being able to choose the jurisdiction for the divorce, with the assistance of a suitably qualified international divorce solicitor, can provide advantages, as different countries apply different rules as to how assets are split.
If your spouse isn’t aware that you wish to file for divorce, you can take advantage of the element of surprise. This can be important if you are worried that your spouse may try to conceal some of their assets. It also means that you can have the support team of your choice assembled. You can ensure that you hire the best divorce solicitor. Your spouse cannot use the same solicitor as you, or in fact engage any solicitor who has knowledge of your marital circumstances, in case they are later found to have a conflict of interest.
Keep your friends close – and your marriage certificate closer
Going through the process of getting divorced is challenging. It is vital that you look after yourself and your wellbeing. Giving yourself the best possible chance of a fair and equitable outcome is one of the greatest kindnesses that you can offer yourself during a difficult and stressful time. You should always know where your marriage certificate is, and have easy access to it. If you are actively considering divorce, at Benussi & Co. we recommend that you keep your marriage certificate as close as possible – it may sound extreme but if necessary sleep with it under your pillow! It could prove to be very useful.