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5 most common divorce myths - debunked!

View profile for Susan Howarth
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Whether it’s the KFC mutated chicken, the earth being flat or goldfish having a 3-second memory, we all love a good old urban myth – y’know, the kind of legend that spreads by word of mouth for its comedy or shock value.

The legal world is no stranger to a good myth too and at SH&Co. we regularly come across some corkers that clients often ‘believe’ to be true.

Hence, we figured a quick debunk of the top 5 might make for a useful read!

So, here goes:

1. We want a ‘quickie’ divorce

TV presenter Ant McPartlin and Lisa Armstrong are just the latest in a long line, but every week, the media reports on the latest celebrity split resulting in a ‘quickie divorce’ – so we all take it as read that we too can get one.

***SPOILER ALERT*** There is no such thing as a ‘quickie’ divorce! Fact.

Regardless of whether it’s you and me or a footballer, pop star or celebrity chef, every divorce case follows the same set court procedure, often taking 4 - 6 months unless resolving the financial matters causes additional delays.

2. We lived together as ‘common law man and wife’ for a long time so have the same rights as married couples

Arguably one of the biggest urban myths around, this one is right up there with bulls hating the colour red and The Great Wall of China being visible from space.

Many unmarried couples believe they have the same protection as married couples if they split up. They do not.

Under current law, it’s possible to live with someone for decades, even have children together and then simply walk away without taking any responsibility for a former partner if the relationship breaks down. All of which means there is very real potential for cohabiting families to be left in an incredibly difficult and compromised position, possibly homeless and/or without any form of income or maintenance.

3. Mediation might help our marriage

This is one of the most commonly misunderstood words in the legal world.

Mediation is not counselling, therapy or any form of relationship management designed to help with reconciliation. In short, Mediation CANNOT help fix your marriage.

It’s a method designed to facilitate communication and help couples move forwards after the breakdown of their relationship or marriage.

For more information on Mediation, read our 5-point guide explaining the process.

4. Finances and Assets are split 50:50

Many clients falsely believe that financial settlements are pretty clear-cut, that all finances and assets are divided straight down the middle. They may not be.

Although equal sharing is often a starting point, there are many other factors taken into consideration and under current English law, there is no set formula for dividing assets. Full financial disclosure is imperative and each case will be different.

Hence, independent legal advice is highly advised – to ensure financial settlements are agreed fairly and without leaving one party vulnerable and struggling to move on with their lives.

5. My ex won’t inherit if I die because we’re separated

The prospect of starting the divorce process after a messy, devastating and emotionally exhausting relationship breakdown can feel particularly daunting, but it’s important to be aware of the implications if you choose not to.

In the eyes of the law, your ex is still viewed as your ‘spouse’ with full spousal rights up until the divorce is finalised.

This means that regardless of whether you have a will or not, if you are separated but not divorced, your ex will still inherit if you were to die*

Chances are, this won’t be your preference. The simple solution is to change your will (or make one if you don’t have one) as soon as you know the relationship is over.

Who knew, right?!

More than a team of myth-busters

At SH&Co. we know the legal world and all it’s jargon can be more than a little confusing, so we’re not surprised at such misconceptions.

Which is why we’re here to bust those myths and provide the very best independent legal advice.

If you’re considering separation, divorce or have any questions in relation to pre-nups, post-nups or cohabitation, why not pop into one of our FREE weekly drop-in Family Law clinics.

Alternatively, you can arrange a FREE 30-minute appointment** with one of our specialist lawyers – call 01606 48777 to book your appointment now.