Divorce is difficult; when it happens, it is devastating to every aspect of a person’s life. No one gets married expecting to later divorce.
Dividing assets and deciding who gets what is always a struggle. Everything a couple owns is likely to have emotional and financial attachments.
However, the difficulty increases when you enter divorce proceedings with misconceived ideas about it.
This article explores myths about divorce we encounter on a regular basis and the truth about what you can really expect.
My wife committed adultery. The breakdown of our marriage is her fault. When the court sees this, they will allocate more of the finances to me, because that is what is fair.
The courts are not influenced by how the parties have behaved towards one another when it comes to sharing out money. In fact, the court looks to the factors contained in the Matrimonial Clauses Act which includes considerations such as income, needs, standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, contributions and conduct. The bad behaviour of a spouse only plays a part in a settlement where that behaviour has been very extreme or is a financial nature e.g. hiding assets.
In actuality, divorce and finances are treated completely separately. It is very rare for behaviour to impact upon a financial award.
I was the breadwinner during the marriage, my wife looked after the house and the family. As long as she is provided for, the rest of the assets will stay with me. My contributions were worth more.
A lot of people struggle with this one!
The main breadwinner is not necessarily entitled to more of the matrimonial assets. The contributions of the homemaker are considered alongside the contributions of the breadwinner.
In lengthy marriages, the starting point is always equal division of the assets, and this can include income, pensions, and properties. The fact that one spouse has remained at home to look after the children and maintain the family home, does not diminish their entitlement to a share of the assets. Their physical contribution, in most cases, is as important as the financial contributions made by the breadwinner.
We have been living together for years. We have the same rights as a married couple.
Whilst organisations like Resolution are campaigning for the law (in England and Wales) regarding cohabitation to change, the fact remains that currently if you are cohabiting you do not have the same rights as a married couple.
There is no such thing as a common law marriage. If a cohabiting couple split, their claims will be limited to property held or invested into together and limited to support for children.
Not knowing your rights can be costly and leave you in real difficulties if you do decide to split. If you are in a long term relationship, there are many things you can do to ensure that your contributions and assets are protected in the event of a break up. It is particularly important to safeguard your future if you have children. You can enter into a cohabitation agreement setting out your rights and agreements.
Family Law is not an exact science. Each case is different and depends on the facts. Misconceptions like the ones I have just explained are why it is important to take advice on these matters. It is very easy to get it wrong. Judges are given discretion to decide cases justly. No two judges are likely to make the exact same decision in a case, but as lawyers we can guide you towards the likely outcome in your case and prepare you for it.
The family lawyers at Heald solicitors are all members of Resolution and they can help you sort out separations, divorces and separations with kindness and good sense.
Contact Kelly Longmore on 01908-662277 for advice on family related matters.