It may seem like doom and gloom for happy marriages everywhere you turn but take comfort – divorce rates are falling.
Back in September, the Office of National Statistics revealed the good news that in 2017 in England and Wales, only 8.4 per 1,000 opposite-sex couples got divorced.
This was a 6 per cent decrease from the year before, which in itself showed a record low for divorce.
But despite every couple’s best intentions, it can and does still happen, the Daily Mirror reports.
At this stressful and vulnerable time it can be easy to cling on to misinformation.
Layla Babadi, associate and solicitor at Nelsons , has more than 14 years’ experience in advising on divorce proceedings and had debunked some of the common misconceptions about splitting from your spouse.
1. If you break up, you have to return the engagement ring
If you break off the engagement or call for the end of your marriage, you might feel morally obliged to return the ring to your partner.
But feelings of guilt aside, the law states that ‘the gift of an engagement ring shall be presumed to be an absolute gift’ – this will only be rebutted by proving that the ring was given on the condition, express or implied, that it should be returned.
So, unless your ex can prove that you agreed to return the ring, you don’t have to.
2. ‘Unhappiness’ can be used as grounds for divorce
It may seem strange, but you can’t get divorced simply because you’re ‘unhappy’ with your spouse.
Currently, grounds for divorce include adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour.
Alternatively, you will have to prove you and your partner have been separated for two years and for both parties to agree that the partnership has broken down.
However, if your spouse is refusing to accept the breakdown of the marriage, you’ll have to wait five years before legally ending the relationship.
The government has announced plans to introduce ‘no fault’ divorces in England and Wales, following on similar reforms in Scotland in 2006 which allowed couples to divorce without blame after one year of living apart.
3. A pre-nuptial agreement is legally binding
Pre-nup agreements are certainly worth having to protect pre-marital assets, but in the UK a pre-nup is not strictly legally binding, particularly if the marriage is long-term and when there are children or dependents involved.
However, pre-nup agreements are increasingly being relied on and upheld in divorce proceedings if the circumstances are right.
Having one in place can reduce acrimony or increase certainty on the breakdown of a marriage.
4. If your partner is caught cheating, they’ll get less money in the divorce
Fault has no bearing on the divorce proceedings and in the UK, the court will always start with a 50:50 split on assets.
However, couples with an international element to their marriage may find that they are better off divorcing in a different country and therefore it’s crucial that you seek advice as early as possible.
5. There’s no such thing as a quickie divorce
The most frequently asked question by divorce clients is, unsurprisingly, ‘how long will my divorce take?’ and the answer will always depend on a host of factors.
Such as, whether your spouse is co-operative and whether they consent to the divorce, how busy the courts are and how long they take to process the paperwork, as well as how complex your financial matters are and whether there are children involved.
As a starting point I often advise clients to expect a divorce to take a minimum of six to 12 months.
6. I need a lawyer to get a divorce
Although there is no legal requirement for you to appoint a solicitor to handle your divorce, people who attempt to conduct their own divorces without the support and advice of a solicitor are often not aware of the issues it could present in the future.
While you might think that your relationship is totally severed, there are legal loop holes that could cause problems further down the line, even decades after you split up.
So, in order to have peace of mind that your current and all future finances are protected, it’s best to approach an experienced team and ensure that any documents are checked by a professional solicitor.