As Divorce and Family Law Solicitors our team of specialists come across a number of misunderstandings or "myths" about Divorce law. It is a complicated area of law and it is always advisable to take specialist legal advice tailored to your own circumstances. Here are a few of the more popular Myths that we come across.
This is often used in the media but the divorce process is anything but quick. It can take between six to nine months from the start of the Court process before you are able to apply for the Decree Absolute. The phrase “quickie divorce” is usually used to describe an “undefended” divorce which the vast majority of divorces are.
“You are automatically divorced if you have been separated over a certain number of years”
You have to go through the same process whether you have been separated for ten days, ten months or ten years. It is the Court who make the divorce orders and therefore there is no automatic divorce after a certain number of years of separation.
“You can get a divorce simply because you have drifted apart or no longer love each other”
You still have to meet the legal grounds for divorce which is that your marriage has irretrievably broken down and that you have the legal basis to do so, please see grounds for divorce. If you are issuing divorce on the ground of behaviour, for instance, then we have to give examples of the behaviour which is unreasonable to you and the Court has to be satisfied that such behaviour would be unreasonable to a reasonable person. The Court would require more detailed behaviour than simply “drifting apart”.
We do not yet have “no-fault” divorce although this is expected to come into law soon. As Resolution solicitors, we do try to agree the examples of behaviour before we issue the divorce to keep the level of animosity to a minimum. Unless you have been separated for over two years (and you both agree to the divorce) or over five years (then just one person can want the divorce), then, unfortunately, you there is the need to apportion “blame”. However this is handled sensitively by our Divorce solicitors.
“It is quicker to divorce if you have been separated for 2 or more years”
The divorce process is the same no matter which fact you rely upon. The divorce papers still need to go to Court and be sent to your spouse. However, using one of the separation facts means that you do not have to apportion blame.
“You can’t claim against each other financially in the future, when you’re divorced”
This one often shocks people as you’d think that if you’re divorced then financial ties are cut too. However without a court order setting out any financial agreements and dismissing your claims against each other, you are still vulnerable to claims in the future. So, if you win the lottery in ten years and have not sorted a court order, your ex could apply to Court for financial settlement from you. It is always best to get something sorted at the same time as the divorce.
“A separation agreement is legally binding”
The only document that makes your financial agreements enforceable through court, is a court order. A separation agreement is not in itself legally binding but can be used as a persuasive document to the Court in considering a final financial Court Order. A separation agreement is better than nothing if you do not wish to or cannot issue divorce proceedings shortly after separation. However the best document to obtain to protect yourself in the future is a Court Order.
“Common law marriage”
Within English Law, there is no such thing as common law marriage. Many people believe that if they have been in a romantic relationship or lived together for a certain period of time that they will be treated as if they are married. This is not the case. There is a law governing marriage which you have to have complied with to form a legally binding marriage. If you have not then you will not be classed as married and therefore will not be protected by the law governing divorce.
This can leave cohabiting or “unmarried couples” legally and financially vulnerable. You can enter a cohabitation agreement before living together to set out what will happen if you separate. It is best to obtain specialist legal advice on this area of law.
From our 3 office locations in Oldham, Tameside and North Manchester (Junction 22 of the M60) we help people, in your situation, across Oldham, Saddleworth, Failsworth, Hollinwood, Manchester, Stalybridge, Hyde, Rochdale, Bury, Tameside, Glossop, Stockport, Cheadle, Sale, and Altrincham areas.
Call us today and speak to one of our Specialist Divorce Team
If you need help and advice regarding Divorce, call one of our Specialist team today on 0161 785 3500 and we'll talk you through how we can help you.