Q.1 Can I get a ‘quickie’ divorce?
Although the media will try and tell you differently there is no such thing as a ‘quickie’ divorce. As a guide, and providing that the petition is undefended, the process can take between three and six months. If a financial settlement is involved this timescale will be extended.
Q.2 On what grounds can I get a divorce?
There is only one ground for divorce, which is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In order to show this, you can rely on one of five facts, which are: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two-year separation (with consent), five-year separation and desertion.
Q.3 What happens if there is a dispute over who the children should live with?
The children’s welfare should be the most important factor to the parents and, if they can make the arrangements between themselves, then there is no call for legal professionals or the court to be involved.
However, this can be a very sensitive and traumatic time for all concerned. It may be that parents cannot agree and will seek legal help to negotiate. It is a requirement of the court that the parties involved are referred to mediation to ensure that all avenues have been exhausted before a court application is made. If the matter is unsuitable for mediation, or an agreement is not achieved, then either parent may make an application to the court.
Q.4 What happens to the matrimonial home and other assets?
When couples begin divorce proceedings, the assets of both parties should be disclosed. All assets in sole or joint names can be taken into consideration when determining an appropriate financial settlement. Solicitors and the court can advise on this issue only when full and frank financial disclosure has been provided by both parties.
Q.5 How long do you need to live with someone before they can be your common law partner?
There is no such thing as a ‘common law partner’, and caution should be exercised when parties decide to cohabit. Cohabiting couples do not enjoy the same protection following the breakdown of the relationship as married couples.
Q.6 How is maintenance calculated, and how can I be sure my ex-partner will support the children?
This is not an area we advise on, as the power to determine the amount and enforce the same lies with the Child Maintenance Service, which uses a set formula to work out what should be paid. A calculator is available on its website to help you work out what level of maintenance would apply in your circumstances.
If you need advice on any family law issue, you are welcome to attend our free legal surgeries which are held every Monday and Thursday from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. No appointment is necessary. Alternatively, please contact one of our experts, who will be happy to help:
Nicholas Clough: firstname.lastname@example.org