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24/11/2020

Getting divorced? Divorce myths busted!

Couples hands with divorce agreement on the table

Any divorce is emotionally draining, and everyone knows someone who has been divorced. Unfortunately it turns into a game of Chinese whispers and through the line of communication ‘advice’ gets inaccurate.

As a family lawyer initially meetings usually consist of correcting all the divorce myths clients have heard.

My partner committed adultery – I should be entitled to more.

This is the most common myth I hear. Even though divorce and the division of financial assets are linked, they are separate. When it comes to the financial aspect of the divorce, the Court is not really too interested in why the marriage ended. The Court will look at both party’s finances and how it can achieve a reasonable outcome taking into account all the circumstances of the case.

You can only use adultery as a ground for divorce if it has been committed with the opposite sex?

In England and Wales you can only use Adultery as a ground for divorce if your partner has had sexual relations with someone of the opposite sex. This means that if your partner has had sexual relations with someone of the same sex then you would not be able to use Adultery.

I want a quickie divorce

This is also one of the most commons myths I hear! Unfortunately nothing can make the divorce go through the Court system quicker. The media is partly to blame for this one. We normally hear of celebrity couples getting a ‘quickie’ divorce within 6 weeks. The 6 weeks is typically the time between the decree nisi (the first stage of the divorce) and the decree absolute (the document which terminates the marriage).

As stated above divorce and financial matters are separate. Receiving your decree absolute terminates your marriage but it does not terminate your financial obligations to one another. A divorce can take any where between 6-9 months, whereas financial matters can take much longer, sometimes years. It always depends on the individual case.

I want a no fault divorce

This one may no longer be a myth soon. The government has announced that when Parliament time allows they will make no fault divorce into law. Currently parliament time is taken up by the pandemic and Brexit.

Current law is that you must prove one of the five facts which are Adultery, Unreasonable Behaviour, 2 years separation with consent, Desertion, and 5 years separation without consent. The closet fact to a no fault divorce is 2 years separation with consent. Obviously this is not desirable to the couples who have no issues but decided to end the marriage, as they would have to wait 2 years to divorce amicably.

Wives get more out of a financial settlement

This is untrue. When deciding upon a financial settlement, the Court looks at what resources the couple has and how fairly they can divide the assets. Generally Wife’s will stay at home to look after the house and the children. This is seen as equal to the Husband going out to work. Once the children of the family are grown up then the Wife has no reason not to obtain employment and Courts sometimes want to see active steps taken by Wife to seek employment. It is true that the person who has contributed more towards the marriage looses more, it is a method of meeting needs.

The Courts starting point in financial matters is always 50-50. They then look at different factors which are laid out in section 25 of the matrimonial causes act to determine how the assets should be spilt. There is no set formula in deciding how the financial assets should be divided.

The most important thing to do when deciding to separate is to seek legal advice. This will help you determine on what grounds to divorce your spouse and what you can expect in the financial settlement. It is always difficult to determine the financial settlement if lawyers have not seen full financial disclosure from both spouse but lawyers will be able to give you an idea what to expect and how the Courts deal with matters.

If you are thinking of separating and starting divorce proceedings then please contact Jasdeep Nagra on jnagra@thursfields.co.uk or 0345 20 73 72 8.

Jasdeep - Colour

Jasdeep Nagra,

Solicitor, Family Law

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