The Fireside Divorce Lawyer

One will have no doubt heard various phrases such as “taken to the cleaners” or “if he does not pay maintenance do not let him see the child” when talking about divorce proceedings or contentious ancillary relief proceedings.  Unfortunately, these phrases are quite common, and it is necessary for a divorce lawyer to dispel the myth around such phrases on a regular basis. I have listed the phrases below:

1. It is not possible to divorce without blaming the other party

This is untrue. Divorce can be achieved when the parties have lived apart for two years and there has been no resumption of cohabitation. Both parties would consent to this. Alternatively, one can wait for five years with the parties living apart and consent may be dispensed with.

2. You get a better settlement if your spouse had an affair

This is untrue. The division of matrimonial assets is split on an equitable basis regardless of blame unless there was such behaviour by a party which had a detrimental effect on the jointly held assets.

3. Pre-nups and post-nups are legally binding

This is untrue. They are not legally binding. However, a court may look to the content of them to ascertain what the level of agreement was at the time of their inception.

4. If you are separated, you cannot commit adultery

This is untrue. One is married until divorced and a sexual relationship with another person during marriage is viewed as adultery.

5. Unmarried fathers have no rights

This is untrue. If a man is named on a child’s birth certificate as the child’s father, then he has parental responsibility for the child.

6. Being divorced means you have no more financial claims on each other

This is untrue. Divorce deals with the termination of the marriage. Ancillary relief deals with the division of the matrimonial assets. A claim for ancillary relief can follow divorce.

7. If your ex does not pay maintenance, you can stop him from seeing the kids

This is untrue. There is a legal obligation to pay maintenance for children up to the age of 18 or 20 if they are still doing A levels. If maintenance is not paid there is no legal right to stop contact between the father and the children. It is not “pay per view” as one Magistrate recently quipped.

8. Most financial settlements are split fifty-fifty

Much will depend on the length of the marriage as to how finances are divided up. It is not as straightforward to simply state that the assets are split 50-50. The family circumstances have to be taken into consideration and the age of any children.

9. You can get divorced in twelve weeks

There are a number of factors to be taken into consideration including the time it takes for the court office to stamp the documents and return them to your solicitor for service on the respondent. The respondent will then have to complete the documents and return them to the Matrimonial office in the court where they will have to be dealt with administratively and the petitioner’s solicitor will then be told to lodge the Certificate of Readiness with the court and then one must wait on the court listing process. Therefore, even with a non-contentious divorce and with documents being signed and returned as quickly as possible a divorce will take longer than 12 weeks.