Various myths about divorce have been reinforced in the press, on the television or by those who think that they know everything about what is in fact a highly complex area of law. This article will therefore try to debunk some of these myths.
1. If you want to secure a quick divorce you can just cite ‘irreconcilable differences’
Absolutely not. ‘Irreconcilable differences’ are not grounds for divorce and carry no formal legal weight whatsoever. In England and Wales, ‘no fault’ divorces do not exist and divorces will not be handed out quickly. Unless you have been separated for more than two years, you can only file for divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour or adultery.
2. Having lived together for years we have the same rights as a married couple because we were common law man and wife
Again, this is completely wrong. The notion of ‘common law man and wife’ is a comfortable myth for those who live together and never marry but it not recognised by the law. Just because two partners have lived together for many years and perhaps even had children together, they do not have the same rights as a husband and wife would have. Whilst couples may be able to obtain a Cohabitation Agreement to safeguard certain rights in the vast majority of cases, unmarried couples will be deemed to have no rights to each other’s wealth by the court even if they have children and have lived together for many years.
Given the complicated nature of this area of law, it is essential that separating couples seek expert legal advice.
3. The children will always go to live with the mother
No, this is not a blanket rule by any means. The court has to make a decision over residency arrangements based solely on the interests of the children involved and if it is deemed that these interests are best protected by going to live with the mother then indeed it is likely that they will end up residing with her. This is set out clearly in the Children Act which states that the interests of the children override all other interests and factors such as age and awareness of the dispute will be taken into consideration. Generally speaking, the older the child, the more say they will have over who they end up living with whereas for younger children, it is often believed that their interests are best protected with the mother.
4. Everything will be split 50:50
This is not the case as the division of assets is entirely dependent upon the individual circumstances of the case. No two divorce cases are the same and as such they will be open to different ways of dividing assets and debts.
In cases where one partner earns significantly more, a split down the middle may not be appropriate. Factors such as income, contribution in the home, length of marriage, wages and residency needs will all be considered.
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For help with your divorce and to clear up any other things you may be confused about, call our specialist team of divorce solicitors today and receive legal advice to rely on.