The prerequisite to action is familiarity with the law and procedure. An outline is set out in Chapters 6 and 7 but information on the substantive legislation referred to at the end of those chapters can be obtained from good reference libraries.
Statutes concerned with matrimonial law, like court decisions on how they apply to different cases, are the centre of a web of legislation on other subjects—housing, insolvency, company law and property law—which, depending on the circumstances, can have a decisive effect on the outcome of matrimonial disputes.
Anyone thinking of permanent separation or divorce has to decide what he or she would like to achieve and establish whether it is possible to achieve those objectives. The fact that legal aid for divorce is now available for many fewer litigants does not mean that legal representation is unnecessary, or that it is safe for one party of a marriage to proceed without representation while the other may be able to pay for advice and representation. But whether someone is eligible for legal aid, or is not eligible and can pay privately (see Chapter 3), or prefers to act for him/herself perhaps with advice from a solicitor from time to time, knowledge of the law is an essential tool.
Since 1990 solicitors have been obliged to seek a settlement of all issues in dispute between divorcing couples. There are detailed rules providing for the procedure in divorce and related