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But while there are some obvious bones of contention for divorcing couples, such as how to split the assets and who gets custody of the children, here FT Money presents 10 other lesser-known quirks that potential divorcees should be aware of. People often assume there will be a financial impact if one partner has had an affair, or left the marriage. In fact, this will rarely make any difference to the overall division of assets. When it comes to money, by and large the court is not interested in why the marriage is ending, but rather what resources you each have available and how they are to be divided fairly.
In English law, the court can only grant a divorce on the grounds of adultery if it is committed by your spouse with a member of the opposite sex. This means that if your wife leaves you for another woman, you will not be able to use the fact of her adultery on its own to persuade the court to give you a divorce. He says this is one of those archaic English laws that many believe to be discriminatory. It has yet to be challenged but lawyers predict it will be soon. But English law only recognises adultery between a man and a woman and any formal claims of discrimination would be dismissed.
What is being referred to is the pronouncement of a decree nisi in open court, which gives entitlement to the petitioning party to a divorce. The final divorce certificate — the decree absolute — can only be granted six weeks later. In reality, say experts, a divorce takes at least four to six months to conclude and it can be longer if the parties need to reach a financial settlement.
It takes months, as opposed to weeks, to deal with. Often the final stage — the decree absolute — is not applied for until all financial issues Gentleman seeks lady for special discretionary times been resolved. This can be several months, sometimes years, after the initial petition. Where the confusion lies, explains Ms Woodham, is that the initial process of changing your legal status from married to divorced does not deal with the division of the matrimonial finances, which is what couples generally find hard to agree. If couples go to court rather than settle this outside, it takes on average more than a year to resolve.
However, a case currently in the courts highlights the need for there to be a better system, says Ms Chitroda. The couple have been living apart sincebut the husband objects to the divorce. Under English law, if one partner objects, courts are not permitted to grant a divorce unless the couple has lived apart for five years. England has a reputation around the world for awarding generous payouts to the financially weaker party in a divorce.
Generally speaking, financial awards made in other jurisdictions in Europe and elsewhere in the world are much more limited. This is because judges in England have extremely wide discretion when deciding how assets should be divided upon divorce. Ms Chitroda says the courts have to be satisfied in the first instance that the English courts are the correct jurisdiction for the divorce.
Although increasingly rare, it is still possible in England and Wales for the court to order that one spouse pay maintenance to the other for the rest of their lives. Even if you did not marry in the UK and neither of you is a UK national, you could still get a divorce there. If you have obtained a divorce in another country and it has left you with inadequate financial provision, you could be entitled to make an application for financial remedies in England and Wales.
To get another bite of the cherry you will need to meet all of the relevant legal criteria. This includes that the foreign divorce is recognised as valid, that you have not remarried and that you can demonstrate a sufficient connection with this country.
If these are all correct then the court in England may be persuaded to use its wide discretionary powers to make an award in your favour, as if the divorce had been granted here, to alleviate the hardship you might have suffered by reason of your foreign divorce. However, Mr Ferguson makes the point that such an award may not be of the level you would expect to have received had the divorce been obtained in this country.
It is a common belief that where there has a been a lengthy marriage where the wife stayed at home to raise the children, the courts will agree to maintenance payments for life. However this is changing: English courts are increasingly placing time limits on post-divorce maintenanceassuming that the financially weaker spouse will eventually go out to work. The judges said she could get a job if she needed more money.
She also points out that quitting your job just before you get divorced will not mean you get out of paying maintenance. Tactical manipulation of earning capacity is usually dealt with robustly by the court. If you end up in dispute with your soon-to-be ex over your finances and one of you applies to the court to determine the issue, each of you will be put under an obligation to give full disclosure of all of your financial and other relevant circumstances.
Any changes to your financial position that occur in that time — even if the bulk of your disclosure has already been provided — must also be Gentleman seeks lady for special discretionary times with your spouse. The court takes the duty of disclosure extremely seriously. Where there is evidence to suggest that a party has deliberately or recklessly withheld information, at the very least the court may draw adverse inferences against them. In a more extreme case, that party could find themselves with a order being set aside or even criminal proceedings being brought against them.
Mr Ferguson points out the fact that an asset, such as a foreign property, may not be in your name because, for example, it is held by a family member on your behalf, but that does not mean you can get away without disclosing it. The fact that the trust may have foreign trustees and be governed by foreign law is not, on its own, enough to stop the English court from making such an order.
However, most couples who divorce do not have assets in excess of their needs. However, divorce lawyers say couples often mistakenly think that there is a formula which is applied to the division of their assets. Current English law is far more discretionary and is based on what each party needs to live on and the principle of sharing assets.
This means every case is different. We are all individuals and the ways we choose to live our lives are infinitely variable. To achieve a fair result, all the competing factors and circumstances must be taken into. Cyber security might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you are ending a marriage, but lawyers say divorcing couples need to take it into.
Lucia Clark, an international family law specialist at independent law firm Morton Fraser, lists some tips for protecting yourself online:.
Change your password Many people share passwords with their spouses, and assume that their ex will not stoop to sneaking a look at their inbox. Sadly, their optimism is often misplaced. In addition, your ex will probably know the answer to your usual security questions, so these should also be changed if possible. A person guilty of an offence under this law can face up to 12 months in prison or a fine.
Are you still in sync? Be aware of synced devices. Apple products, for example, are often synced together so you can access information from various devices, such as an iPhone, iPad or laptop. This can cause a problem when you are separated and may have appointments which you might not want your ex to see. You might also share an Apple ID or iCloud. Sharing these can again give your ex-partner access to s, messages, photos, or locational data without you even knowing about it. Get alerts on Marriage and divorce when a new story is published.
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