Relationships in the modern world can be unpredictable, as evidenced by recent figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicating that almost half (42 per cent) of all marriages end in divorce.
Naturally, splitting up with your partner can prove to be stressful and complicated, particularly if you have children together, jointly-own a property or share a buy-to-let home.
Therefore, it is important that couples seek specialist advice, in order to help alleviate some of the tension at such a difficult time.
Married couples and civil partners
People who are married or in a civil partnership in England and Wales have certain legal rights in the event of a divorce or dissolution.
However, under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, anyone seeking a divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership needs to either:
Have been separated from their partner for a period of two years or more, or;
Be able to prove that their partner is ‘at fault’ due to adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour.
Critics claim that existing laws are flawed, in that they effectively encourage couples to attribute fault to a partner in order to obtain a speedy divorce – which, naturally, can exacerbate the difficulties of an already tense situation. This has led to calls for the introduction of a ‘no-fault’ divorce law, which are currently being consulted on.
In most cases, a Court will split the assets accumulated by a married couple or civil partners equally, unless one partner is able to prove they have made a greater contribution to the couple’s wealth.
Seeking specialist legal advice from the earliest opportunity is always important.
Unlike those who are married or in a civil partnership, cohabiting couples have very limited legal rights in the event of a relationship breakdown.
The concept of ‘common law marriage’ is a myth and, in reality, cohabiting couples who separate must rely on a complex web of trust and property law to establish who has ownership of the assets and what they are entitled to as an individual, in the event of a split.
It is important for couples to consider making other arrangements to protect themselves, such as setting up a cohabitation agreement.
How can Reynolds Parry Jones help?
Our expert family law team specialise in advising on all aspects of divorce, the dissolution of civil partnerships and cohabitation agreements.
Download our easy-to-understand Divorce Process PDF here: https://www.rpj.uk.com/pdf/RPJ-Divorce-Infographic.pdf