Divorce & Family

Family Law Myth Buster

Our expert family lawyers have expounded some common myths.

We’ve lived together for 20 years and have three children. I’m a common law spouse I have rights don’t I?

Unfortunately no, the law does not offer any protection to unmarried couples on relationship breakdown.  There are some claims that can be made in relation to property but the court’s powers are limited.  If there are children your partner would be expected to pay maintenance for them and if this is not agreed the child maintenance service can assist.

Father’s never get residence of their children the court is biased towards the mother

This is not the case.  The courts can, and do regularly, grant residence orders to fathers where it is in the children’s best interests.  In addition shared care arrangements are more common as the stereotypical roles of parents have changed with fathers being much more involved in caring for their children.

My partner does not pay maintenance for the children so I don’t have to allow contact

So far as the court is concerned money and children issues are treated separately therefore whilst your partner has an obligation to pay maintenance for the children which isn’t being met, this does not impact on the children’s right to have a relationship with them.  The presumption is that contact will take place if it is safe to do so and therefore you may find yourself having to respond to an application for a child arrangements order if you stop contact.

My spouse isn’t entitled to anything as they haven’t worked and all the assets are in my sole name

This is not correct The court views all assets, however held, as being assets of the marriage and falling into the matrimonial pot.  As always there are certain exceptions which arise as a result of the source and the timing of the acquisition of the asset but you must not assume that because something is in the your sole name your spouse will not be entitled to a share.  NB this includes pension where the court have powers to make orders to share the pension between you in various ways.

The credit card is in joint names but I’m not responsible for the debt because I did not benefit from it

Unfortunately if the liability is in joint names you will be responsible and can be pursued for the liability if your partner doesn’t pay it.  The court does not have to the power to transfer liability for debt even where a party has not been responsible for the spending.

We are amicable, we have divided our assets between us and have decree absolute.  We don’t need an order of the Court

No matter how amicable things are now circumstances can change as people move on with their lives.  We always recommend that any agreement is recorded in a consent order to be endorsed by the Court.  Until you have consent order both parties’ financial claims remain open and there can be no clean break.

I haven’t committed adultery as we were already separated when I met my new partner

Technically you have as adultery means that you have had a sexual relationship with someone other than your spouse whilst you are still married.  Your spouse could present a petition based upon your adultery.

I will get a better financial order from court if I issue the divorce proceedings

This is not correct; it will only be in exceptional cases that behaviour will impact on the division of assets.

For more information on how our family law team can help you, please contact us.