Some common misconceptions about divorce and separation

Posted 01 July 2021 by Dawn Pennell

You can have a ‘quickie’ divorce – even with co-operation between spouses the divorce process is likely to take five or six months to complete and longer if one party objects.
I have a ‘common law marriage’ because I have lived with my partner for more than two years – this is not the case.  What you are legally entitled to if your marriage breaks down will be very different from your entitlement if a cohabiting relationship comes to an end.
A Court will always say that children should live with their mother – parents have equal rights in relation to raising their children.  It does not matter if you are their mother or father.  A Court has to decide what is best for the children taking all circumstances into account.  It is possible to share care even after separation or divorce.
If I empty the joint account my spouse will not get any of that money – while it is true that either of the people who have a joint account are entitled to withdraw money from it if you do that and there is a divorce a Judge can take into account in the financial settlement the amount you have withdrawn from the joint account.
You will get a bigger financial settlement if your partner has cheated – Courts will be concerned to know what resources are available to the couple and will consider how they can be divided fairly.  It is unlikely that cheating by a spouse will make any difference to the settlement achieved.
You cannot file for a divorce if your spouse lacks mental capacity – it is possible to apply for a divorce even if your spouse lacks mental capacity and is unable to agree to the divorce or to take part in the proceedings.  Your spouse will need to have someone to make decisions for them during the divorce and that person is called a litigation friend.  If there is no suitable or willing family member or close friend then an application can be made to Court and the Official Solicitor may agree to act if there is no-one else willing and able to do it.
This article was written on 1st July 2021 and the law may change following this date.  Every case, of course, depends on its own circumstances so always take legal advice from a trusted professional about your own set of circumstances.
Dawn Pennell is a Partner based at the Stalham Office.
If you would like to discuss matters relating to separation Capron & Helliwell continue to offer a fixed fee first appointment for family law matters – for details or to book an appointment please contact Dawn Pennell on 01692-581231 or via email  at
This article aims to supply general information but it is not intended to constitute advice.  Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead.  However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy.  Always seeks specific advice.

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