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Sadly, not everyone will be popping champagne corks as the clock strikes midnight this New Year’s Eve. For those in unhappy marriages, it’s often the start of a new year that triggers the decision to call time on their relationship and, in some cases, initiate divorce proceedings.
If this applies to you, firstly, we’d like to offer our best wishes and say how sorry we are that you’re going through such a difficult time. But let us reassure you that there is life — an amazing life — after divorce – and it all starts with being in full control of the facts from day one.
In this blog, Law & Life addresses some of the most common myths and misconceptions about divorce to set you on the right path:
1. “My spouse was unfaithful and abusive, so I’m entitled to everything!”
Any form of domestic abuse or adultery suffered can be devastating for the victim. Within divorce proceedings however, conduct of this kind is not a factor which will influence a financial agreement or how marital assets, such as your home, will be divided.
2. “I will have one of those celebrity ‘quickie divorces’ please”
There really is no such thing. In America, you could get a “quickie divorce” by going south of the border to Mexico, which is probably where the idea came from. But all divorces in England and Wales take about the same amount of time, whatever the grounds. On average, the divorce process now takes 8-10 months, or up to 6 months if there are no financial arrangements negotiations.
As family law solicitors, we’d encourage you to see the positive side here. For most people, the anger, hurt, betrayal, upset or guilt subside over the time it takes for the process to be completed. It can make for a healthier start to your new life where you are not carrying over the emotional baggage you might have done had you been able to sign a simple document and walk away overnight.
3. “Mothers are always granted custody of the children.”
Although it’s certainly common that the mother has the children living with her, it’s not a hard and fast rule.
The Children’s Act 1989 states clearly that a child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration. Courts will always encourage you and your partner to make your own arrangements without getting them involved.
If you really can’t work it out together, the court decides based on what’s best for the children. For example, if there was evidence the mother was incapable of looking after the children alone, the court would ask for reports to confirm it. Or if the mother worked full-time while the father stayed at home to look after the children, the court may decide it’s in the children’s best interests to stay with their dad.
4. “I want a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t an option in England and Wales. To get a divorce, you must show your marriage has irretrievably broken down as a result of either adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years’ desertion, two years’ separation (with your spouse’s consent), or five years’ separation.
5. “I must have a solicitor to get divorced”
You always have the choice to represent yourself and not appoint a solicitor. Divorce is more straight forward than it used to be but it is still a legal procedure. You may find that you can navigate the procedure for the divorce itself. But it is very easy to come unstuck in financial negotiations and agreeing terms of a financial settlement. If you do not understand the financial claims you are entitled to or the Orders the Court has the power to make both in your favour and against, you are at risk of losing out on a fair and reasonable financial settlement. If the wording of a financial agreement is not drafted correctly, you will lose out.
An informed family solicitor will provide support and reassurance, as well as legal expertise to ensure you fully understand your options and you completely understand what you are agreeing to and signing.
We’ve only scratched the surface with this topic. For the more in-depth version, order your complimentary copy of our new book, The Good Divorce Guide by emailing your name and postal address to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Good Divorce Guide was written by our team of family law solicitors and is designed to navigate you through divorce with as little pain or anguish as possible.
So, if you’re thinking about divorce in 2018, don’t let your preconceptions frighten you off or stop you from taking that brave next step. Discover the truth and seek advice from a trusted expert to help you through the legal maze.