McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

10 Divorce Myths Debunked

Divorce is one of those topics that everyone seems to have an opinion on, whether knowledge is gathered from stereotypes, seeing celebrity divorces in the media or drawing on their own experiences or those of friends or family. However, divorce is a complex area of family law and no two cases are the same.

The family law team at McHale & Co have many years’ experience in helping couples through divorce and during our time working within this area of the law have found that many people have a range of misconceptions about the process. 

In this blog post we have debunked some of the myths surrounding divorce that we regularly find cause serious concerns.

1) Getting a divorce is very expensive

With many newspapers reporting on high-profile cases, it seems like it costs a fortune to go through with a divorce. However, most cases are reasonably inexpensive as settlements can be reached without attending court. Also, if you choose to, you can represent yourself in court, but this can result in an unfair or incomplete settlement, so we would advise you to seek advice from a trusted legal team.

Lawyers usually charge by the hour, and can usually estimate an overall cost at your first consultation. However, most law firms, including McHale & Co, offer fixed-fee divorces giving you financial certainty.

2) I will have to pay maintenance for years

Although husbands and wives can seek maintenance from their spouse after a divorce, courts prefer to end marriages with a clean break. This is when a financial settlement is ordered by the court to prevent monetary claims between spouses, so parties aren’t financially attached in the years following the divorce.

This kind of clean break does not apply to child maintenance, however - this must be paid by the parent that isn’t the sole carer following a marriage breakdown.  

3) The mother always gets custody of the children

In the past, it was far more likely that a mother would be awarded custody of the children following a divorce, and many people still believe this is the case. However, today’s courts are much fairer when taking into consideration the opinion of the child (if they’re old enough) and who the child lives with.  Many fathers are actually awarded full custody of the children.

However, a common resolution today is for parents to make arrangements for shared care, either through private agreement or the court. This time is not usually split equally amongst both parents, but time is allowed so they can both play an active role in their child’s upbringing and care.   

4) I earn the most money, so deserve a bigger share

The main breadwinner isn’t necessarily entitled to more assets, because the domestic contributions of the homemaker are viewed in the same light as any financial contribution. If the contributions are deemed as equal, then an equal share will be distributed. If assets are limited, the courts usually lean towards the parent caring for the child when it comes to distribution.

5) I'm entitled to half of everything

No law in England or Wales exists that states a spouse is entitled to exactly half of everything a party owns. Both sides of a case will be thoroughly examined, ensuring the needs of each party are accommodated fairly and any children are provided for. Factors taken into account include the length of marriage, the assets of each party, and the resources available. In many cases, one spouse will end up entitled to more than the other.

6) Prenuptial agreements aren't worth it

Misconceptions range from prenuptial agreements not being worth anything, to being too rigid and setting out exactly what is to happen with no room for manoeuvre. However, the reality is that prenuptial agreements lie somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum. Prenuptial agreements aren’t fully legally binding in England and Wales, but are considered by the courts if they are thought to be fair.

If you’re looking to set up a prenuptial agreement, it is vital they are properly prepared and that adequate legal advice is sought to ensure they are considered by the courts should a marriage break down.

7) Lawyers always want to take divorces to court

This is another misconception of divorce. Many law firms, including McHale & Co, are members of Resolution, an organisation that encourages settling marriage breakdowns in a non-confrontational manner. 

Although taking a case to court is sometimes necessary to resolve unfair or disputed agreements, there are many other methods to negotiating divorce proceedings. Mediation is the most common way of resolving a divorce amicably and involves a discussion over arrangements for children, property, debts and other financial issues, all with the assistance of an independent third party.

8) If I move out, I’ll lose my rights over the family home

If you choose to move out of the family home, people often think this is a voluntary 'surrendering' of their rights. However, this is not always the case.

9) I've heard that divorces are aggressive and hard work

Although divorce can be a distressing experience, many are resolved amicably and without acrimony. As we have discussed above, there are a number of methods that provide constructive routes to ending a marriage amicably and agreeing on a settlement, including mediation. 

10) My spouse doesn't want a divorce - I can't get one

In some circumstances, consent doesn’t necessarily have to be given to proceed with a divorce. If your petition is based on unreasonable behaviour, this does not have to be admitted (unlike with adultery). Although a divorce can be defended, in many cases it is unlikely that the court will refuse it. In most circumstances, although initial objections may be made, most parties will eventually agree to cooperate.

Categories: Divorce & Family Law
Tags: Divorce

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