Divorce related FAQs

What are my rights to see children?

In the eyes of the courts, it is never about the rights of the parent, but instead the rights of the child – i.e. what’s best for your children. Family Law in the UK allocates formal parental responsibility to the mother of the child, though there are instances where the father may obtain parental responsibility if the father is named on the birth certificate.

Separating couples are generally advised to enter into a formal agreement for parental responsibility and visitation rights, without court intervention.  Mediation and arbitration may be necessary, but it is usually possible to formalise an agreement without bringing the matter before the courts.

Your rights to see your children will be determined by the courts on the basis of multiple factors – children being paramount – after which the decision of the court will be final and legally binding. Hence, it is better to come to a mutually-amicable agreement with your partner, if possible.

What can I do if my ex-partner is difficult about me seeing our child? 

If you are unfairly being denied access to your child after a separation, you are entitled to make an application for a Child Arrangement Order. This involves bringing the matter before the courts, in order to formalise your access rights and enable you to see your child. As always, the decision of the court will be final and legally binding, so it is advisable to first attempt to reach an acceptable agreement with your ex-partner.

The level of contact you are entitled to (and maybe allocated) will be assessed in accordance with your individual circumstances, those of the other parent and the best interests of the child. It is extremely rare for a court to rule that one parent has no legal right to see their child, though it is equally rare for both parents to be satisfied with the final ruling laid out by the courts.

Consider independent mediation and arbitration as a more practical, agreeable and affordable alternative.

Can I be entitled to my husband’s business after divorce?

There is no simple answer to this question, as there are dozens of important factors to be taken into account. For the most part, your entitlement (or otherwise) to your husband’s business will be determined on the basis of whether the business is considered a ‘matrimonial asset’.

Matrimonial assets are those that are built up during a period of marriage by both parties. If the business was founded or simply increased in value during the period of marriage, you may be entitled to some of its assets or value. The courts will consider the extent to which you contributed to the success of the enterprise, in order to determine how much you are entitled to (if anything).

How do I claim child maintenance from my husband after divorce?

Formalising child maintenance is usually the responsibility of the Child Maintenance Service, which on behalf of divorcing couples calculates a fixed payment to be paid to the “Parent with Care” of the child by the Non-Resident Parent”. This will usually be formalised during the divorce proceedings themselves, rather than at a later date.

However, you are entitled to lodge an appeal if you do not believe that your husband is paying maintenance at a fair level. In addition, it is also possible to reach a formal agreement with your partner as part of the divorce process, as opposed to the Child Maintenance Service deciding on the payment amount on your behalf.

What are my financial entitlements after divorce?

Financial entitlement following divorce is assessed on the basis of matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets. All assets deemed to be matrimonial assets will be divided between the divorcing partners, either in a manner agreed by the individuals divorcing or by the courts. Matrimonial assets are those that are built up during the period of marriage as a joint effort by both partners, including the following among others:

  • The family home
  • Other properties purchased
  • Savings and pensions
  • Furniture and appliances
  • Vehicles
  • Business ventures
  • Shares and bonds

Generally speaking, anything that was purchased or built-up during the period of marriage will usually be considered a matrimonial asset, and therefore divided between the divorcing partners. Exactly how much you are entitled to will be determined on the basis of your contribution to the matrimonial assets in question.

Anything you or your partner owned or built-up outside the period of marriage will be classified as a non-matrimonial asset and will not usually be divided, unless under certain circumstances.

How long do I need to be married to claim my husband’s assets after divorce?

Divorce law in the United Kingdom is not particularly clear on the length of marriage needed to qualify for certain entitlements. There is a great deal of ambiguity – particularly given how the definition of a ‘long’ or ‘short’ marriage has changed with time.

It is also important to bear in mind that along with time married, the length of time you lived with your partner prior to getting married will also be taken into account. If you lived together for 20 years before marrying for just one year and subsequently divorcing, this may be considered a longer and more binding relationship than if you had lived together for two weeks and then married for five years.

Generally speaking, however, courts consider marriages of five years or less to be ‘short’ marriages. In which case, your entitlement to finances and assets may be lower than if you were married for more than five years, prior to divorcing.

How do I divorce?

The divorce process begins when one of the parties files a legal petition, requesting that their marriage is terminated by the courts. The individual filing this petition will be required to provide formal confirmation of their grounds for divorce – i.e. the reason for wanting to terminate the marriage.

It is rare for one party to file for divorce without informing their spouse, though this does sometimes happen. For example, if a party is afraid how their spouse may react, or simply has no idea where they are at the time.

Ensuring a smooth, simple and accelerated divorce process means enlisting professional legal support at the earliest possible stage. Do not attempt to go through even the initial stages of divorce alone – consult with a legal representative for advice.

How long does a divorce take?

A variety of factors will determine how long it takes for your divorce to be finalised, though most cases take between five and six months. Again, you can reduce the risk of complications, delays and disruptions along the way by speaking to a qualified legal representative at the earliest possible stage.

How do I claim a stake of my husband/wife’s assets in the course of divorce proceedings?

Claiming a stake of your partner’s wealth after divorce can be approached in a variety of ways. Ideally, you and your partner will have reached an agreement during the course of the divorce proceedings. If not, the matter should be brought before the courts, which will result in a formal ruling as to how much of your husband/wife’s wealth you are entitled to.

If at a later date you believe you have not been allocated your fair entitlement, you may be able to file an appeal. Though this will depend entirely on the court’s initial ruling, or the agreement you reached with your partner in the first place.

In all instances, we strongly advise independent mediation and arbitration as an alternative to court intervention, where possible. Along with being much less intimidating and complex than court proceedings, mediation and arbitration can also be significantly less expensive.

My partner is hiding financial assets, how do I become entitled?

If you wish to claim entitlement to final assets you believe your partner is hiding, you will first need to provide conclusive evidence to prove that this is the case. This alone can be a complex and time-consuming process, so we strongly advise seeking legal support at the earliest possible stage.

If you can provide evidence that your partner is hiding financial assets from the courts, you will be able to file a claim accordingly. Likewise, evidence of hidden financial assets could be enough to motivate your husband to negotiate an agreement outside the courts.

Assessing the strength of the evidence you have is essential, in order to establish whether or not you have a valid case. This is something you should never attempt to go about alone – seek expert legal support to discuss the most appropriate course of action.

Do I have to attend the divorce court hearing?

A divorce that is uncontested and runs smoothly from start to finish doesn’t need to be brought before the courts. So long as you and your spouse can agree on the division of assets, child access entitlement and so on, court intervention may not be necessary.

You will only be required to attend a court hearing where there are disputes and disagreements on any important matters. Such disputes and disagreements can often be addressed through mediation and arbitration, as a quicker and more cost-effective alternative to court intervention.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you do take your disputes to court, you will be liable for any court fees and legal costs that apply.

How much does a divorce cost?

Costs vary in accordance with the nature and complexity of the case, though of the average uncontested divorce will cost between £1,000 and £1,500 plus VAT.  Where a divorce is contested, additional legal fees and court fees will apply, making for a significantly more expensive process.

How can I stop my partner moving abroad with my children?

Custody and visitation rights will be established with your spouse as one of the most important aspects of the divorce proceedings. However, it is not unheard of for one partner to indicate their intention to move overseas with their children.

If your ex-partner intends to relocate abroad with your child, they are legally required to request formal permission from the court, if you do not agree with their intentions. Under no circumstances will the court grant permission for the child to be taken out of the country, if it is not considered to be in their best interests. Otherwise, your ex-partner will only be permitted to take the child out of the country for a maximum of 28 days, without your consent.

If you’re worried that your ex-partner may be planning to take your child out of the country for longer than 28 days without your permission, an emergency application for a Prohibited Steps Order should be filed as quickly as possible.

As this is an extremely serious issue, it is essential to seek expert legal support at the earliest possible stage.

Shall I write a new will before or after divorce?

It is important to remember that if you have a will in place while going through divorce proceedings, it will remain valid until it is updated. This, therefore, means that the terms outlined in your will when it was originally written will continue to apply, despite the fact that your circumstances and intentions may have changed significantly.

This is why it is worth considering writing a new will before your divorce is finalised. If you ever find yourself in a situation where your circumstances or intentions regarding your estate change, this is the time to write and formalise a new will. A valid and viable will written or updated before your divorce will continue to be valid after your divorce.

Can I stop my partner from selling our home that I and my underage children live in?

This is ultimately a matter for the courts to decide if you cannot reach an agreement with your ex-partner. However, under no circumstances will the courts reach a ruling that in any way risks your underage children being made homeless.

For example, if you do not have sufficient savings or income to realistically rent a property or buy your own home, the courts will most likely freeze the sale of the property. By contrast, if you are earning more than enough to rent/buy a property and provide an appropriate standard of living for your children, they may be granted permission to sell the family home.

The extent to which the family home is classified as a matrimonial or non-matrimonial asset will also be taken into account.

If you have any questions or concerns on any of these issues or would like to discuss your post-divorce entitlements in more detail, book your obligation-free consultation with Aristone Solicitors today.

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Child and Family Law

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