We may think we know quite a lot about divorce — after all, it’s something that affects us all in some way, whether we have parents or friends who have got divorced or it’s something we’ve experienced or are currently going through ourselves.
Without a doubt, the internet is a great resource, but it inevitably means that some of the information about divorce online can be taken with a pinch of salt.
Here are 5 things you might not know about divorce.
1. You Don’t Need a Lawyer to Get a Divorce
Many people think that a divorce lawyer is required to get a divorce. In reality, technically, you don’t actually need to! It’s completely possible to get divorced without legal representation, and, of course, this is often easier if you and your ex-partner divorce amicably. That being said, it’s always advisable to seek out a divorce lawyer.
A divorce is a highly emotionally charged process, and plenty can happen: one party might start to get defensive over finances, you might disagree over who the kids should live with or you might decide that you want to put in place a legally binding agreement to keep you both accountable. Even if you don’t anticipate any issues, a lawyer will be able to make sure that you’re getting a fair deal.
When looking for legal counsel, make sure to find a lawyer you can trust. Try to find someone in your local area who you can speak about your case prior to any agreement. It’s vital that you feel comfortable with your choice. If you’re in the capital, for example, you’ll have plenty of choices, so look specifically for a variety of experienced divorce lawyers and carefully assess your options. A lawyer should be happy to take a look at the particulars of your case and clearly explain how they can help — before you commit your hard-earned cash.
2. There Is Such a Thing as an Amicable Divorce
When most people think of divorce, they think of long and bitter court battles. However, the reality can be far from different. Contrary to popular belief, a friendly divorce is possible! When a couple gets divorced, they will react in different ways. While it’s no doubt an upsetting and life-changing period, some ex-partners will stay close friends long after the divorce and some will need to maintain some degree of contact if children are involved, while others opt for a clean break completely.
Ultimately, though, a divorce offers a chance for individuals to completely transform their lives, such as by enjoying new hobbies. The start of this new chapter is made a lot easier if a divorce is amicable and a divorcee doesn’t have a bitter custody arrangement and a drained bank account looming over them.
3. A Quickie Divorce Isn’t Necessarily That Quick
The media is full of celebrity couples getting so-called “quickie divorces” — seemingly not a day goes by where we don’t see some new attention-grabbing news story about a couple getting divorced almost impossibly quickly. And, as is often the case, these stories are highly exaggerated — it’s not possible for a couple to get a divorce in 12 weeks, let alone is as little as 30 seconds!
According to statistics, the length it takes to get a divorce is actually increasing. In its most recent report, the Ministry of Justice stated that the length from petition (when the divorce is first filed) to decree absolute (when the divorce is legally ended) is 56 weeks. That being said, there are ways to make the process quicker, such as by completing and returning all forms quickly and agreeing with your partner how your assets (such as your home) should be split.
4. You Can Still Commit Adultery — Even if You’re Separated
To get a divorce in the UK, you need to satisfy one of five grounds for divorce. Alongside desertion (when your ex-partner has left you for a period of at least two years) and unreasonable behavior (the most commonly cited reason for divorce, which can involve an abundance of behaviors, including drunkenness, taking drugs or refusing to contribute towards general upkeep), adultery is also a grounds for divorce.
In the context of the law, this is defined as sexual intercourse outside the marriage between a man and a woman. This means that if you or your ex-partner has sex with a member of the opposite sex while you’re still married — even if you are separated and have a verbal agreement to see other people — this can be used as a grounds to start the divorce process.
5. Pre-Nups Aren’t Legally Binding
Some couples opt to get a prenuptial agreement (also called a prenup) before getting married to protect their assets in the event of a divorce. Many think that a prenup is legally binding, however, this isn’t the case. A court will definitely take a prenuptial agreement into consideration when considering how assets should be split — if a couple cannot agree without the court’s help — but there is no guarantee that the court will follow what is set out.
While your best bet is always to get legal support during the drafting of a prenup and prior to the marriage, it’s vital in any case to get legal support during your divorce.