Does the reason for divorce have an impact on the financial settlement?

Rarely. The divorce and financial proceedings are best thought of as two tracks running in parallel. In some circumstances if the reason for divorce relates to financial matters (gambling or wanton/reckless spending) then the divorce can influence the financial outcome but this is unusual.

Do I have to go to court to get a divorce?

No. The court must be involved as, ultimately a judge has to grant the divorce. However, the process can (and usually is) all dealt with on paper passing between the parties and the court until, ultimately, they are divorced.

What do I have to do if I have received divorce papers?

You should have been sent a document known as the Acknowledgement of Service. You are required to complete this and return it to the court confirming whether you intend to defend the divorce or allow it to proceed. Unless completely comfortable with what you are agreeing to you should consider taking specialist legal advice.

Do I have to go to court to reach agreement about financial matters?

No. There are various ways to reach agreement ranging from direct discussion through to court proceedings. However, whichever route is followed no agreement is final and binding unless set out in the terms of a court order and approved by a Judge. This does not require attendance at court and can be done ‘on paper’ and sent to a Judge for approval as long as it is in the correct format.

Do I have to tell my ex-spouse or partner about my financial circumstances?

You do if you want any agreement to be binding. To be final and binding any agreement requires court approval. Court approval can only be obtained if you and your ex-spouse or partner has provided full and frank financial disclosure to the other.

Can I stop my ex-spouse or partner from getting rid of assets?

The court has various powers to stop assets being disposed of and even reversing disposals that have happened. This is the case if it can be shown that the person disposing of assets is trying to do so to put assets beyond your or the court’s reach in legal proceedings.

Do children always end up with their mother?

No. In proceedings relating to children the court is blind to gender. Any decision is based on what is the child’s best interests taking into account various statutes and a range of case law.

Can the other parent of my child take the child to live in another country?

If you have Parental Responsibility then they cannot take the child to another country without your permission or permission of the court. If you do not consent then the other parent must apply for “Leave to Remove” the child (court approval). However, some take this step unilaterally anyway and if you are in any way worried that this is a risk you must urgently take specialist advice to try and prevent removal until it has been properly considered.

Are pre-nuptial agreements worth having?

In many cases yes. Although they are not considered binding like a contract, if certain criteria are met they carry significant weight. They are now a very useful tool for protecting wealth and providing couples with a degree of certainty for the future.

Does ‘common law marriage’ exist?

No. This is a popular myth. Just because you live together it does not mean you have acquired any rights or entitlements.