Busting 5 myths about divorce with Hertfordshire solicitors HRJ Foreman Laws
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Katharine Scoot, director and family lawyer at HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors, based in Hitchin and Welwyn Garden City, busts five myths about divorce.
Whether your decision to divorce is amicable and mutual, or your situation is more complicated, there is always disruption to daily life. Sometimes, though, common assumptions made by couples turn out to be no more than myths.
Myth one: both spouses are automatically entitled to half of everything
In most matrimonial cases, the court will seek to fairly divide the assets based on both parties’ needs and the needs of any children under the age of 18.
Other factors will include:
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• The current income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources of each spouse. This will also consider future assets and any increased earning capacity.
• The current standard of living, future financial needs and future responsibilities.
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• The conduct of each of each spouse, where the court considers it to be important to future financial arrangements and the welfare of the family.
• The value of any benefit that either spouse has lost as a result of the divorce e.g. pension provision.
Myth two: child custody will always favour the mother
Where the child lives and how much time he or she spends with each parent will be based upon what is in the child’s best interests. The word “custody” is no longer used in relation to children; the court now makes child arrangement orders which state where a child should live and how much time should be spent with each parent.
In recent years, there has been a move towards shared parenting orders. They do not necessarily mean that each parent spends exactly 50 per cent of their time with a child; arrangements are based on what is in the child’s best interest. It will be different for every family.
Myth three: we’ll have to go to court
Seeking a divorce does not mean you have to go to court. In fact, most solicitors will help you to avoid it altogether. There are various ways of resolving family/children and matrimonial disagreements without going to court. These include party to party negotiation, mediation, solicitor to solicitor negotiation, arbitration, round table meetings and an application to the court if a resolution cannot be reached.
Myth four: I have a pre-nuptial agreement so my finances are protected
Pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in England and Wales. However they are persuasive provided that they have been entered into at least six weeks before the date of the marriage. Both spouses should fully disclose their finances, preferably with supporting documentary evidence. Finally, both parties should take independent legal advice before signing a pre-nuptial agreement. This improves the chances of the agreement being considered and followed by the court in the event that their marriage breaks down.
Myth five: we are common law partners and we have the same rights as a legally married couple
The last in our list, but one of the most frequently believed myths. There is no such thing as a common law relationship. Unmarried couples do not have the same rights as a married couple, regardless of how long they have lived together. According to Resolution, the family lawyers association, the number of unmarried couples living together – or cohabiting – has more than doubled from 1.5m in 1996 to 3.3m in 2017. The Association also says that: “Millions of cohabiting couples are unaware that they don’t have automatic claims, for example to the property they live in, if they split up.”
You can take steps to protect yourself if you are in a cohabiting relationship. A solicitor will help you to draw up a cohabitation agreement which states both parties’ intentions for finances, property or childcare, if the relationship breaks down.
For further information or legal advice about divorce, child arrangement orders or any other family law matters email HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors or call us on Hitchin 01462 458711 or Welwyn Garden City 01707 887701.
About the Authors
HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors delivers legal services for businesses, families and individuals in Hertfordshire. It has offices in Hitchin and Welwyn Garden City. It is recognised by Lexcel – the Law Society’s quality mark for excellence in legal practice management and excellence in client care. It is also regulated by, and compliant with, the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Its areas of expertise include company and commercial law, Commercial property law, conveyancing, family law, wills, trusts, probate, inheritance tax, civil litigation and commercial litigation.
HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors experienced family law team in Hitchin and Welwyn Garden City will help you with:
• Relationship breakdown
• Dissolving a civil partnership
• Matrimonial finances
• Children’s law and child arrangements (previously known as child custody)
• Pre-nup and post-nup agreements
• Co-habitee disputes
• Living together agreements