Top 5 myths surrounding divorce – dispelled by a divorce lawyer

The most popular day to start divorce proceedings is in early January. Whether it is the pressure of the cost of Christmas, or working longer hours in the lead up to the festivities, the first working Monday of the new year is commonly referred to by many lawyers as “Divorce Day.”

In 2019, “Divorce Day” falls on 7 January and there are many myths surrounding the divorce process. Here are a few of them to consider:

Myth 1 – you can get a “quick divorce”
This is by far one of the most common myths I come across. That’s it, you’ve mutually decided to separate and therefore you can opt for a “quickie divorce” – not true. Even in most straight forward cases, you are looking at a minimum of four months to get through the courts. If you have significant financial assets, a wider family to consider, or even if you plan to separate after 40 years of marriage – it is easy to see why it can take a long time to untangle yourselves from each other’s lives. More complicated cases can take twelve months or more, so please abandon any hopes for that quick, no hassle divorce! Sadly there is no quick fix in Divorce

Myth 2 – Pre- and post-nups are legally binding
This one is not a very straight forward answer, but I had to include it near the top of the list because it is one of the first questions I get asked.

Some say a prenuptial agreement, or a pre-nup, is “not worth the paper it is written on”, because they are not automatically binding in England and Wales. However, if a pre-nup is drawn up properly, and fairly with the opportunity of legal advice, there is a strong chance it will be upheld in court. If it doesn’t exist then you have no chance.

My advice is to speak to a solicitor if you are considering either a pre-nup or a post-nup (an agreement which is drafted after marriage in the event of a pre-nup not being drawn up at the time, or due to a change in circumstances). The area of pre- and post-nup law is complicated and there are various criteria that need to be fulfilled – so make sure you seek the right advice.

Myth 3 – Common law partners have the same rights as married spouse
This is something we write about frequently here at Downs Solicitors. We keep a close eye on the development of law in this area, because the law relating to cohabitation and unmarried partners seems relatively static, despite the constitution of marriage changing rapidly in recent years.

As the law currently stands, unmarried spouses do not get the same rights as someone who is married or in a civil partnership – and this is one of the biggest myth busters going. Too many people fall into this trap, because they think they are protected in law if the relationship ends and this is simply not true – even if you have been in a relationship for 30 years. This also stretches to any co-habiting siblings, another topic we have written about recently.

All is not lost – there may be some things a solicitor can do to help mitigate any risk of vulnerability in the event of a relationship breakdown such as having a Co habitation agreement Make sure you seek advice in the first instance.

Myth 4 – Being divorced means no more financial ties
This is a surprisingly common myth, but, without a financial order, you are still financially tied to each other until you both die or remarry. This includes being open to further financial claims after your divorce – for example, in the event of one of you falling into financial difficulties through injury or ill health, the other may have a claim against the other

Myth 5 – Everything is split 50/50
This is entirely dependent on circumstances and needs of the parties and therefore a split down the middle is often only used as a starting point. Even if a couple agree on an equal share of property or other financial ties, there can be more difficult factors to consider, such as Pensions or inheritance, care for children or other responsibilities such as insurances or later life care.

The best thing you can do if you are considering separation or divorce is seek advice as early as possible. Get in touch with Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.