Divorce: separating facts from fiction

21 Oct 2019

Divorce is a difficult and challenging process for individuals and often their wider family.  Before an initial appointment with a solicitor, it is common for people to undertake some online research of their own or talk to friends who have been through a divorce themselves.
However, rather like the perils of self-diagnosis for a health condition, there are now lots of myths and misinformation surrounding divorce. 

Myth 1 - you need to be separated for two years before you can issue divorce proceedings.
The only bar to issuing divorce proceedings is if you are in the first year of marriage.  You do not need to be separated for a certain period, or even separated at all, before issuing divorce proceedings. 
Myth 2 – if you issue proceedings based on your spouse’s adultery, you must name the third party.
This is not true and in fact, naming the third party is actively discouraged.  Be mindful that in naming the third party, they will be served with all the divorce paperwork, some of which contains very personal information, which you may not wish to disclose.  It can also slow the process down and increase animosity.
Myth 3 – you can obtain a ‘quickie divorce’. 
This term seems to have been coined by the media.  There is no such thing as a ‘quickie divorce’.  Every undefended divorce, even those of celebrities, is subject to the same process and generally, the same court time constraints.  The divorce can take approximately six to eight months.  If finances are yet to be resolved, the process can take much longer.  When the media refer to a celebrity who has their divorce made in ‘just seconds’, this is how long the judge will take to pronounce the decree nisi, which is just one small part of this process.  
Myth 4 - the content of the divorce petition is likely to impact upon the financial settlement.
This is generally untrue.  The court will consider several factors when deciding on financial matters.  An individual’s misconduct is only very occasionally taken into account and therefore the content of the divorce petition is unlikely to impact on financial matters.
Myth 5 – I will need to attend court.
Unless the divorce is defended or there is an issue over who will pay the costs of the divorce, neither party will need to attend court.  This will be dealt with on paper by the judge.  If, there are separate proceedings relating to finance or children, then you are likely to need to attend court in respect of those proceedings. 
Myth 6 – If I start a relationship after I have separated from my spouse that is not classed as adultery.
That is incorrect.  Whilst you are still married, this will be regarded as adultery and your spouse could issue proceedings against you on this basis, even though the relationship started after your separation. 
Should you wish to discuss any family law issue, please contact Marwa Hadi-Barnes, senior associate at DMH Stallard solicitors.

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