Time and time again our family lawyers are asked the same questions; we decided to take our top 5 frequently asked questions about divorce in this interesting fact sheet.
It is not possible for any separated couple, famous or otherwise, to obtain a divorce within the first year of marriage. After that, the procedure for all divorces is much the same. There is no fast track or ‘quickie’ way to divorce and you cannot pay extra to obtain Decree Absolute more quickly. The media often report on how celebrities have obtained a ‘quickie’ divorce however this is usually because they report at Decree Nisi stage, and what they fail to report is that the couple will need to wait another six weeks before obtaining Decree Absolute.
Generally, from start to finish the divorce process will take between four to five months. This is sometimes delayed if the couple has not agreed financial settlement by the time Decree Absolute can be applied for. This is because it is often advisable not to bring the marriage bond until the financial bond is brought to an end by entering into a financial Consent Order. This is particularly the case where pensions are involved.
If a property is jointly owned and has been the shared home during the marriage or civil partnership, then you do not have a right to change the locks without the consent of your spouse, whether the property is rented or owned. This is because you both have a legal right to be in the home and one spouse cannot exclude the other unless a court has ordered it. If there is a risk of domestic violence or abuse then an application can be made to the court for an ‘Occupation Order’ which if granted, will exclude one spouse from the home.
The answer to this question is not straightforward. Property that is gifted or inherited from third parties during the marriage is not automatically matrimonial money to which the sharing principle applies. However if the nature of the gifted item or inheritance changes during the course of them marriage, then your spouse may have a claim against it. For example, if you inherit money and invest it into the matrimonial home or use it to purchase a car etc… then this could change its status from non-matrimonial to matrimonial. It can sometimes be argued that the source of funds should be factored in when dividing the matrimonial property due to it being an unmatched financial contribution made by one party therefore speaking to a solicitor at an early stage can help you make sure that you are well informed about the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
The simple answer to this is no, not automatically. The court does not concern itself with punishing one party for their behaviour which led to the breakdown of the marriage. Instead the court will look for a fair and reasonable financial settlement that meets both parties’ needs. This can often seem unfair to the spouse who did not choose to separate, however what is considered fair to the court can often be very different to what is considered fair by the parties.
This very much depends on the parties. Most solicitors will encourage settlement and actively try and negotiate settlement either themselves or following a referral to Mediation. Very often Mediation can resolve any disputes over financial matters more quickly and at less expense than a court hearing.