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Divorce – Fact or Fiction?

Separating from your spouse and facing the prospect of petitioning for divorce and reaching a financial settlement can be incredibly daunting. More often than not somebody you know – whether a family member, friend or colleague – will have been through a similar situation and will have shared their experiences with you.

Surrounded by all of these different opinions and accounts it can be difficult and confusing to work out the fact from the fiction. In this Article, I will get to the bottom of five of the most common divorce myths.

Celebrities have a “quickie divorce”, why can’t I?
You may have seen reports in the media about celebrities receiving a “quickie divorce”. Unfortunately, there is no such things as a “quickie divorce” in England and Wales. On average, divorce proceedings will take approximately six months but could take longer as this is dependent upon a number of factors. Including, how co-operative your spouse is and how long the Courts are taking to process paperwork at that time. Additionally, if parties are negotiating a financial settlement, then it is often advisable to wait until a financial settlement has been agreed and sealed by the Court before applying for Decree Absolute, which can increase how long it takes for divorce proceedings to conclude.

I want a “No Fault” Divorce
The law currently provides that there is only one ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This can be established by relying on one of five facts. Namely:- adultery, unreasonable behaviour; separation for two years with consent, desertion or separation for five years. Under the current law, you therefore need to wait until you have been separated for two years (if you both agree to divorce) or for over five years (if only one party wants to get a divorce) to petition on a “no fault” basis. If you do not want to wait for two or five years to obtain a divorce,

then you would need to petition on the basis of adultery or unreasonable behaviour, which effectively blames the other party for the marriage break-down.
The Government is currently looking at re-forming the area of divorce to introduce a “No Fault Divorce”.

If I petition my spouse based on their Adultery or Unreasonable Behaviour then this will be considered when reaching a financial settlement.
This is not true. It is rare for the Courts to look at behaviour when looking at a financial settlement and any behaviour would have to be gross and exceptional for it to be taken into consideration. When looking at reaching a financial settlement, the Court will instead be focused on making sure that any settlement is fair and meets both parties needs.

Once I am divorced, my ex-spouse cannot bring a financial claim against me
Once Decree Absolute is granted the marriage is officially dissolved. However, if finances have not been resolved by means of an Order sealed by the Court, there is still a risk that your ex-spouse could bring a financial claim against you in the future. At Willsons, we always recommend reaching a financial settlement alongside divorce proceedings.

Common Law Marriage gives me the same rights as a married couple
Unfortunately there is legally no such thing as a Common Law Marriage, regardless of how long you might have lived together. Currently, unmarried couples do not have the same legal protection as married couples.

It is clear that navigating divorce and financial settlement can be a minefield. If you need advice on divorce, financial settlement or any other family matter, then please do not hesitate to contact Heather Wolfe in our matrimonial team on 02476 387 821.