Divorce Myths

The internet is littered with myths about divorce, half truths, blatant lies, out of date information and well meaning but inaccurate advise, it can be highly frustrating trying to find the answers to your questions. ​Below, we list the most common myths and the actual situation. You can always contact us on 0330 999 0959 for further information on your situation:
 

Getting divorced means you are free from each other financially

MYTH – Unless you have a solicitor drafted consent order, then either of you could make a future claim against each other’s assets, even several years after you have been divorced.
 

If my ex does not pay child maintenance, I can stop them seeing the children

MYTH – The parenting arrangements and child maintenance payments are two unrelated matters. If you have problems with your ex not paying child maintenance, the CMO can help you recoup what is owed to you.

If you admit to adultery you have to pay more

MYTH – The courts will very rarely look to punish or reward for behaviour in a marriage. In some cases the person committing the adultery may be asked to cover the court fees (£550, or £600 with a consent order).

We will have to go to court

MYTH – It is very rare that you will have to actually attend court.

If I agree to the unreasonable behaviour I will have to pay more

MYTH – You do not have to agree to the grounds, but most people will sign it off with a statement to that effect, in order to progress the divorce. The courts will not look to punish either party for their behaviour in a marriage and we will usually agree the grounds with you both in divorce negotiation, to save time and disputes later. The documents are all confidential under family law, so no one will see the grounds listed.
 

If I don’t agree to the divorce there is nothing my ex can do

MYTH – You can oppose a divorce but we are not aware of any case in England were a court has decreed that a couple must remain married when one of them does not want to. Papers can be served on you by a court bailiff. If this is going to happen anyway, you might as well have some say and control over the process. We can help you both divorce amicably and quickly and let you move on with your life.
 

The children automatically go with the mother

MYTH – As society changes and parenting roles become more flexible, in more cases the father is having more of a role and in some cases is the parent with care.  
 

The usual parenting arrangement is the children see their father every other weekend

MYTH – There is no set or normal arrangement. There may be separate arrangements during holiday and term time; different arrangements as the children grow older and flexible arrangements to suit everyone involved. More and more parents are pursuing a 50/50 parenting plan, which we can help you develop based on our tried and tested parenting schedules.
 

You must have a solicitor to get divorced

MYTH – You can process the divorce yourselves or use an internet company. However if you need a consent order you will normally need a solicitor. At Surrey Mediation, we only ever use solicitors to process your divorce as we find their experience is invaluable to provide a quicker and more accurate service.  A court can reject a divorce if there is a single piece of information missing on the petition, or if a box has been incorrectly ticked. We therefore use experienced divorce solicitors to process all our divorces.
 

You can get a quick divorce if you pay more, like the celebrities do

MYTH – The court will deal with the paperwork in the order they receive it. No case is hurried through. Our solicitors will turn around paperwork quicker than most firms and will ensure your petition gets to the court asap.
 

I bought the house in my name only so it is not an asset of the marriage

MYTH – All assets need to be disclosed. The fact you are married means they could be an asset of the marriage irrespective of whose name they are in. A court has ruled that a house is transferred over to the ex partner, even though they had not been on the mortgage or deeds to the property.
 

Lottery winnings are not an asset of the marriage

MYTH – Congratulations on winning the lottery, but case law shows they are an asset of the marriage and must be disclosed.
 

If we can’t agree then the courts will decide for us

TRUTH – Possibly. But a court trial costs so much that most cases are decided outside of court. If you are going to have to agree outside of a court then you may as well do so as quickly as possible and before you have spent thousands on legal fees.
 

I can get divorced because I committed adultery

MYTH – You cannot rely on your own adultery, just that of your spouse.
 

The wife always gets 60% of the assets

MYTH – We have heard this one many times and not sure where it has come from. The starting point for division of assets is known as the ‘yardstick of equality’ at a 50/50 split. A court could move that up to 100% / 0% if the circumstances dictated.
 

The pension I accrued before the marriage is not taken into account

MYTH – This would depend on the length of the marriage and both your individual circumstances. It is a massive grey area, best discussed with family law professionals. We have joined up with  Westminster Wealth LLP who provide pension advice and our  solicitors can provide legal advice on this matter.
 

If I leave the marital home, I give up my rights to it

MYTH – It is still an asset of the marriage and your name is probably on the deeds as well. A solicitor usually advises you not to leave the family home, but this is not always in the best interests of the children's (or your own) sanity and well being. Divorce Friend can really help here to establish a plan for you both and we can help look at the costs of running two homes and how this can be achieved.
 

If I leave the marital home, I no longer have to pay the mortgage

MYTH  - If the mortgage is in joint names you are both jointly and severally liable for the full amount of the loan. We can help you agree how the mortgage will be paid whilst you separate and our mortgage advisers can help you to re-mortgage where required.
 

There is a standard calculation to work out a fair split of our assets

MYTH – There is no standard calculation and the outcome is agreed very much on your individual circumstances and needs. What one court may decide on one day with the same information could be completely different to another court on another day.
 

A solicitor will help me get more of the assets

MYTH – A solicitor can advise you on legal matters. Having a solicitor does not mean you will get more money.
 

I have to name the other person to prove adultery

MYTH – The third party is very rarely named in divorce proceedings.
 

My ex can force me to agree something I don’t want to do

MYTH – Divorce Friend, family mediators, solicitors and the courts are all set up to ensure someone is not being bullied into agreeing something they don’t want to. There is usually negotiation and a movement on positions required to reach agreement, but the judge will not seal a consent order if they feel any manipulation or unfairness has taken place.
 

I can get a quickie divorce from £37

MYTH – You can pay a company to send you the divorce forms (that you can get for free from the court) but court fees for a full divorce and consent order are £600. Some people on low income may be exempt from court fees and we can talk you through this. Most divorce take between 8 and 12 months to complete.

My ex can hide all their assets easily

MYTH – If you are concerned that full financial disclosure will not take place you can both complete a Form E each. If you lie on this you could be committing contempt of court or fraud.  It is very difficult to hide assets these days as most dealings leave an electronic trail. We can discuss this further with you at your initial meeting.
 

We can get divorced if we both agree on the ground of ‘irreconcilable differences’

MYTH – There are only 5 grounds for divorce in the UK. See our grounds for divorce page for more details.
 

I went to work during the marriage and paid for everything so I should get more

MYTH – The work put into raising a family and looking after the family home are usually treated as equal to the paid work you did during the marriage.
 

I can transfer money to a trusted friend and it can’t be counted

MYTH – The court would take a dim view of any attempts to hide monies.
 

I am automatically entitled to spousal maintenance

MYTH – Spousal maintenance is not an automatic right and is based on budgets moving forwards. Most courts look to achieve a clean break and we can assist you in maximising income through working and child tax credits. Child maintenance is an entirely different matter to spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance should be discussed at mediation to show the court full consideration of the financial implications has taken place.
 

We have lived together for years as common law partners so come under marital law

MYTH – There is no such thing as common law marriage in the UK – not since 1753 anyway - and therefore there is no automatic right to share assets. We can still help couples who are not married agree a fair split of joint assets and parenting arrangements.
 

Prenuptial agreements are legally binding

MYTH – In the UK prenuptial agreements are not legally binding although a court would consider them, especially if legal advice was sought at the time.
 

If I change the locks on the house, my ex can’t return

MYTH – Your ex still has a legal right to enter the house. This is where Surrey Mediation can help you reach agreement on living arrangements.  
 

If my ex does not return the children I can call the police and they will return them to me

MYTH – This falls under family law and the police will only deal with criminal law (or preventing a breach of the peace and some other civil law matters). If the children are well and not at risk of harm, the police have absolutely no powers to remove them.
 

My ex had an online relationship where they exchanged indecent photos and messages, so I can file for adultery

MYTH – Sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex needs to have taken place for adultery to proven.
 

I can stop my ex introducing the children to their new partner

MYTH – Your ex can introduce the children to their new partner without your permission. You could ask the court to make a judgement on this (but this takes time) or agree to discuss this through  mediation, where a plan can be put in place.
 

We separated several years ago and now both have new partners, so cannot divorce on the grounds of adultery

MYTH – You can commit adultery anytime until the decree absolute is announced. Whether this is the best ground for your circumstances is a different matter. You would not normally gain financially from using adultery as a ground for divorce.
 

I don’t have to disclose my finances or my earnings

MYTH – You need to disclose all your finances or any agreement reached can be set aside and you will have to start the whole process again.
 

We have to attend mediation in order to go to court

MYTH – In some cases mediation is not suitable and this will be established via a MIAMs appointment.
 

I can automatically change the children’s names after divorce to my maiden name

MYTH – You need the consent of everyone with parental responsibility.
 

A divorce will cost thousands of pounds

MYTH – Whilst costs can escalate quickly you can process a divorce yourself for free and may have no court fees if you are on certain benefits.
 

I can get divorced for free

TRUTH – See above.
 

I can automatically get legal aid for a solicitor

MYTH – Legal aid has been withdrawn for most family matters but is now available for mediation.
 

I have to complete a Form E to get divorced

MYTH – If the finances are agreed and relatively simple, a full disclosure can be given to the Divorce Friend on our disclosure forms.
 

We can’t decide who will have the children so the court will make the decision for us

TRUTH – Although a full court case will take months if not years and can cost in excess of £20,000 plus VAT each.
 

My friend and I have similar circumstances so I should get the same as them in my divorce

MYTH – Each scenario and case is different. It is very dangerous to compare other divorces and this can lead to unrealistic expectations and costly disputes.
 

There is no advantage to us of getting divorced

MYTH – Apart from being linked under family law whilst you are married, without a clean break consent order, you could make a claim on each others' assets years ahead. A pension can only be divided on divorce with a pension sharing order. Finances on divorce have to be up to date at the time the consent order is filed and not reflect the finances when you separated.
 

I have hired a real "rottweiler" of a solicitor, so I will get more

MYTH – We recommend using a Resolution practising solicitor who has signed up to help resolve family matters professionally and amicably. Hiring an expensive solicitor who is not interested in reaching a fair settlement for you both will most likely end you up in court and with a substantial legal bill.
 

A solicitor can tell me what a court will decide

MYTH – A solicitor can let you know matters of law, but no one would be able to accurately forecast what would happen in a court, especially without a full financial disclosure from both sides. Our barrister package, where a family law barrister will independently give a view on the case is the best method to ascertain what a court will consider in your case.
 

You must get divorced to have a financial agreement

TRUTH – To share pensions or have a consent order you must also get a divorce. If you want the agreement without a divorce, you can purchase a legal deed of separation. But these are not as set in stone as a consent order. We can discuss with you the differences between the two and what is best for your circumstances.
 
As you can see the whole area of family law is a complex one and can end up costing you a lot of money. Our solicitors can give you legal advice on the matters raised and our fixed fee packages can help answer many of your questions. Feel free to contact us at any time if you have a question about divorce or separation on 0330 999 0959.


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