For many of the clients we see at our offices, the first meeting with a lawyer can be a daunting prospect. One contributing factor to this is the number of myths that exist within family law, with clients very often being given misleading information prior to attending an appointment. This article aims to dispel a number of these myths:
- Myth – Divorce ends all financial claims.
- Reality – Financial claims can be brought many years after a couple has divorced. The main issue barring a party from bringing a claim is in fact re-marriage and still the other party is able to bring a claim against them as long as they haven’t remarried also. There are well publicised applications which have been made some 20 years after the final decree. It can prove a costly error not to deal with finances at the time of Divorce as inevitably the parties financial positions will have improved.
- Myth – The party blamed for the Divorce gets less in the financial order.
- Reality – It is only in exceptional cases that the person who has caused the relationship breakdown that this will be factored into the financial order made by the Court. The Court’s primary concern is and always will be the financial needs of the parties with a particular focus on housing needs.
- Myth – Debts in my ex partner’s name are their responsibility.
- Reality – in Divorce matters this can be untrue. The courts look at how the debt was accrued. For example, if it has been used for family holidays or general family living, then it is a family debt and must be factored in when looking at the overall matrimonial pot.
- Myth – I can get a quickie divorce if I don’t make nasty allegations.
- Reality – Currently we do not have an immediate no fault divorce in the UK. To avoid making allegations parties must wait a minimum of 2 years before applying and hope their ex-partner agrees. Failure to do so could mean a 5-year delay before being able to apply.
- Myth – Our finances will be divided equally
- Reality – Absolutely not! A marriage is a legally binding lifetime commitment that can only be ended by an order of the court made in divorce proceedings.
- Myth – If we live apart for 10 years we don’t need to get a divorce
- Reality – Whilst the starting point is equal division as to the assets, this may not apply if there is evidence to show one parties need is greater than the other. For example, that party earns less or has the children with them, then almost always the court will need to depart from this position and award that party a greater share of the marital pot.
This is only a small selection of the myths that we are presented with as practitioners. Because of this it is important to get advice at an early stage when considering Divorce or financial matters.