Divorce is not an everyday event, and as it can be a highly emotional experience, many people don’t want to talk about it, which results in many myths around getting a divorce.
This article undercovers the facts behind the myths and provides you with the truth so you can approach divorce with the knowledge to make informed decisions.
Myth #1: The spouse to ‘blame’ for the divorce will get a worse deal financially in the divorce settlement
Friends and family may tell you that you’ll get more money than your ex in a divorce if your partner cheated on you. It might feel right, logical even, especially if you are on the receiving end, but this is not the case.
There is no link between any financial settlement and the severity of your husband or wife’s behaviour during the marriage unless your spouse’s conduct specifically affected your financial resources. An example of this would be if your husband or wife had a gambling problem and lost marital assets or got into a lot of debt.
Myth #2: Mothers always get the children.
There is no legal bias towards the mother when deciding where a child should live. The overriding principle that the court must follow is the child’s best interests. Evidence shows that unless a child is at risk, they tend to do better when both parents are active in their lives. Increasingly, separating couples enter shared care arrangements where the children spend equal time with each parent.
Myth #3: The primary breadwinner during the marriage will get more of the assets on divorce
Again, this is another situation that feels right, especially if you didn’t want the marriage to end, but it’s not true. There are no defined formulas for calculating financial settlements other than the default starting point of splitting all assets acquired during the marriage equally.
In some situations, the spouse who hasn’t worked might get more because they have not built up a career. Often a wife will sacrifice her career to stay at home and bring up the children. In this situation, it is likely, that she didn’t contribute to a pension scheme, and instead, the husband worked and built up a pension pot for their futures.
In this situation, it would not be fair for the husband to get most of the pension provision because they decided that he’d go out to work while his wife took care of the home and children.
Myth #4: Child support payments or the lack thereof give or take away parental rights to see their children.
This very common misconception possibly causes more conflict between parents than anything else.
You may also be interested in reading How to Divorce Without Messing Up Your Kids
The argument goes, “why should they see their children if they aren’t paying for them?” or “I pay for my kids, so I have a right to see them”.
Child maintenance and access to children are two separate things. The Child Maintenance Service deals with child support, and access to children is dealt with by the court.
The court decides on contact based on what is in the child’s best interests. It is important to note that the court does not like to see parents in court fighting over access to see their children because they recognise the pain and damage it can cause a child.
Myth #5: You must divorce in the same country where you were married
You do not have to divorce in the same country where you married. And you don’t have to live in the same country as your husband or wife to get a divorce. As long as the UK is your permanent home or the permanent home of your husband or wife, you can divorce here.
Myth #6: You need to attend court to divorce and sort out financial settlements
You don’t have to attend court to divorce, and most couples don’t need to go to court to sort out their money and property issues. In fact, in most cases, this would be the last thing you would want to do. Disputed financial settlements can cost £15,000 to £25,000 each in legal fees. Fortunately, there are several other ways you can resolve these issues to avoid going to court.
Couples can agree on the financial settlements themselves amicably, instruct financial or legal advisors in more complex cases, or use mediation to resolve disagreements.
Once you’ve reached an agreement, this needs to be drafted into a consent order by a solicitor or online divorce provider who will submit it to the court for approval to make it legally binding. This option is by far the best way as it is less stressful and will save you a significant amount of money. The average cost of a consent order from a solicitor is £1500 – £3500 on average, and from an online provider like Easy Online Divorce, the prices ranges from £299 – £599.
Myth #7: Your ex can come after any money you come into in the future
This divorce myth is a half-truth. A divorce doesn’t automatically sever financial ties between separating couples. The only way to do this is by applying for a financial clean break order from the court.
You may also be interested in reading What is a Clean Break Order and Do I Need One?
Having a clean break or consent order in place fully protects you against the risk of your ex trying to claim against you at any point in the future.
Bonus Myth: My ex can stop us from getting a divorce
Not. Any. More.
Under the old divorce law, your ex could defend against unreasonable behaviour or adultery claims and completely stop any application based on separation unless you had been apart for five years, keeping many in misery.
Thankfully this was scrapped with the introduction of the new no-fault divorce law on the 6th April 2022. Now you just have to make a statement that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, and your ex cannot stop proceedings.
There are many myths surrounding divorce, but these are the ones we hear most often from our clients. Such misinformation worries many people considering divorce and keeps them trapped in unhappy marriages.
I hope that I’ve been able to put your mind at rest and have given you some practical information to help you make informed decisions about your divorce. If you want to discuss any of the points raised or anything we may have missed, drop me an email or schedule a call with me here.