Myths of marriage and divorce

Did you know there are several myths surrounding civil partnerships, marriage and divorce?

  1. Can I get divorced if we have just drifted apart?

Yes – from 6 April 2022 ‘no fault divorce’ has been introduced, which means parting couples no longer have to prove their marriage has irretrievably broken down due to one of the five ‘divorce facts’: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or separation of at least two years or in some cases five years.

Instead, they can apply for divorce solely or jointly, without assigning any blame on one party. 

  • Will my partner get 50% of our assets, even if they have cheated?

In England, the courts will always start with a 50/50 split of assets. But there are a number of instances where this may not be the case, such as the length of the marriage/civil partnership, large sums of inheritance or money generated after separation and sometimes generated pre-marriage and whether there are children. Fault – such as one partner cheating – has no bearing on the division of assets.

  • Do I have to give my engagement ring back if we split?

If you break up with your partner, you may feel a moral obligation to return the ring – however, unless it can be proved that the ring was given conditionally, the law states that it is an absolute gift, meaning you do not have to return it to your ex.

  • Do I need to appoint a solicitor?

While it is possible to get a divorce without the support of a solicitor, you may run the risk of missing important legal loop holes, such as the ‘remarriage trap’. Put simply; if you remarry without a claim for a financial order against your first spouse you may be barred from seeking maintenance and other financial claims. You may also find yourself out of pocket down the line. Without full legal severance it is possible that an ex-spouse could chase you for a share of funds you may accrue later in life – whether that be a pension pot, inheritance or even a lottery win!

  • We’re not married, but we’ve been together years – will I get 50%?

There is no such thing as a ‘common law wife/partner’. If you choose not to marry then do consider a living together agreement to protect your best interests. Going through a divorce or separation can be one of the most stressful periods in your life and highly emotional.

For more information and support contact one of our members.

Written by Jane Charlton,
legal director at Shakespeare Martineau in Milton Keynes