There are a number of misconceptions and myths with regards to marriage, cohabitation and divorce process. These misconceptions can add additional stress to what is a difficult time in your life.  Finding out the correct legal advice early on in the process can reduce stress and pressure.  We have summarised some common misconceptions and myths.

Common Law Marriage

Many people think that if they have been living together for a period of time then they enter into a ‘common law marriage’.  This is not, in fact, the case as there is no such thing as a common law marriage.  Cohabiting couples, however long they have been living together, do not have the same rights as married couples when it comes to financial settlement.  For instance, cohabiting couples have no claim against one another for maintenance, other than child maintenance, and cannot claim pension shares, or lump sum payments, or property adjustment orders.

If you have been in a lengthy relationship but not married, then you may very well require legal assistance in order to obtain proper child maintenance for any child of the relationship and deal with issues with regards to jointly owned property.  Cohabiting couples also have claims under Schedule 1 of the Children Act with regards to any child of the family.  Again this is something that you need legal advice as to any claims you may have.

The Decree Absolute is the end of the process

There is also a misconception that if you are married then financial claims come to an end upon Decree Absolute.  Many people undertake divorces themselves without seeking legal advice and are unaware that the pronouncement of a Decree Absolute does not bring to an end financial claims that either party to the marriage have against the other.

Irrespective of whether you issue divorce proceedings yourself, legal advice should always be taken with regards to dealing with the financial aspects resulting from the breakdown of the marriage and in particular financial claims which are available to you.

The person living in the house keeps it

People believe that if they leave the house during a separation they will not be entitled to a share, this is wrong. There are numerous factors which will determine ‘who gets the house’ or even if it is required to be sold. The most important thing is ensuring that the needs of all the parties involved are met.

When children are involved, one parent may stay in the house to provide the children with some continuity. The other parent might agree to receive other assets to reflect their interest in the house or agree to wait until the children are older before seeking their share.

There is no definitive answer as to what happens to the house. The outcome will depend on the circumstances of each family and the different needs of the couples and their children.

The assets are split relative to income

This is not necessarily the case.  There are a large number of factors and no set procedure for dividing assets in divorce. An equal share is often a starting point.  Factors taken into account include any pre-nuptual agreements in place, the length of the marriage and if children are involved the financial needs of the parent with care of the children.  Also being the main wage earner in the relationship does not entitle you to more, being at home can be viewed as an equal financial contribution to the relationship.

These are just a few common misconceptions, there are many more.  If you need help with any aspects of your divorce, separation and financial situation do not hesitate to contact Clare Cherry our experienced family lawyer for advice.