The most common questions about divorce

The idea of divorce can be daunting, especially with so much misinformation about financial settlements, the legal process and childcare arrangements. In order to try and debunk some of these myths, we have compiled a list of common questions that we are asked about divorce to help unpick some of the confusion.

 

Can a divorce actually be amicable?

While divorce is often difficult for all involved parties, most people are hoping for an amicable divorce, particularly where children are involved. The best way to achieve this is to have an attitude of cooperation and try to iron out the elements of the settlement, putting any children involved first. Mediation can help this process by talking the settlement through with an impartial person who can keep discussions on track. It is also expected that the introduction of ‘No-Fault divorces’ this Autumn will help people divorce in a more amicable way.

  

Are assets split 50/50 in a divorce? 

50/50 is generally a starting point for divorce, however unique circumstances are taken into account. No one party should be left at a disadvantage and an even split may not be a fair outcome for all parties. For example a parent who has taken on the majority of childcare may not be in a position to earn an income to support themselves and so may require a different division of assets. A solicitor will be able to advise you on your unique circumstances.

  

How unreasonable does behaviour need to be as an accepted grounds for divorce?

Many people assume that filing for divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour means that the reasons must be extreme, such as gambling, drug use etc. However this isn’t the case. Smaller unreasonable behaviours are accepted as grounds for divorce. Your solicitor will be able to advise you further on the items that can be listed as unreasonable in your circumstances.

 

Can I get a quick, cheap divorce online?

Beware of companies claiming “quickie” divorces. They rely on you working out the details yourself, which can leave you open to a bad settlement. They are unable to advise you on your unique circumstances and give no support for the process. When it comes to divorce, it is most definitely a case of you getting what you pay for.

 

OK, but if I use a solicitor won’t it cost me a fortune?

People are often surprised at how little it can cost for a solicitor to be involved in your divorce. Costs may be higher if parties cannot agree on the division of assets and child access arrangements, which is why we recommend mediation and a cooperative approach, based on the advice of your solicitor around your unique circumstances. This way you are getting a settlement that suits you individual circumstances, based on legal advice, in a low cost, cooperative way.

  

What is mediation?

Mediation is a tool to help you work out the settlement of your divorce. It is carried out with an impartial, trained mediator. Sitting at a table in a non-confrontational way to work out your settlement is a cost effective way of deciding on the division of assets and childcare which will hopefully avoid any need for court.

 

If my ex partner doesn’t respond to a divorce petition will I have to stay legally married to them?

There are ways to proceed if your ex doesn’t respond to a divorce petition. However you will need to discuss your individual circumstances with your solicitor to find the best option for you.

 

Does divorce mean I have to attend court?

No. So long as you are able to agree on your financial settlement and the care of any children, court will not be necessary. If you are unable to reach an agreement however you are able to attend court in order to let a judge settle any disputes and decide the fairest division of assets and arrange custody agreements.

  

Will unreasonable behaviour or adultery adversely affect the settlement?

The financial settlement is calculated separately from the reasons for divorce, meaning that regardless of the reasons for divorce the financial settlement will only take account of fairness for all parties involved.

 

Does the mother automatically get custody of any children?

The short answer to this is no. Custody should always be arranged in the best interests of the child. If an agreement cannot be reached then a court will decide what is in the best interests of the child based on the parents roles in the child’s life until this point, the situations of both parents going forward, the behaviour and personality of each parent and the preference of the child. Courts recognise the important role of both parents in a child’s life and will reach a custody decision accordingly.

 

Can my ex make a claim on my finances in the future?

A decree absolute doesn’t stop either party from making financial claims in the future. In order to guarantee this a financial order is needed. Your solicitor can help ensure your finances are protected into the future.

 

Do I have to give full financial disclosure?

Yes. It is thinly way to achieve a fair settlement and so it is a legal obligation to provide full financial disclosure.

 

What is the difference between joint custody and a shared contact order?

Joint or shared custody is where both parents have equal time with the children and have joint responsibility for key decisions about the child. A shared contact order is where one parent assumes the majority of responsibility and the other gets regular visitation rights. Both parents still have a say in decision making for the child, however the primary carer has the final say in key decisions.

 

If an ex stops seeing the child, can they stop paying child maintenance?

The short answer is no. Child maintenance is calculated according to your unique circumstances and can be calculated here. Custody and maintenance are seen as separate things and cannot be used to influence one another. So a parent deciding to stop seeing the child doesn’t mean he isn’t liable to support them. Similarly, if a parent stops paying maintenance this cannot be used to stop access to the children. They should be treated as separate entities.

 

If you are considering a divorce and need legal advice, get in touch today. We offer a free 30 minute consultation to look at your options going forward. Call us on 01326 316655 or email for an appointment with Family Solicitor Kerys Deavin: Kerys.Deavin@hinedowning.com