Your Divorce Rights Explained

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In England and Wales, there is no such thing as a common-law wife or husband, because under English law a common-law marriage does not exist.

If you’re getting a divorce, it’s crucial to know and understand what your rights are. The divorce process can be straightforward, but there are factors that can affect the process, such as:

  • Agreeing on a financial settlement
  • Dividing property
  • Matters involving any children

Your rights will need to be protected and your interests secured, whether you are the wife or husband, and there are some common rights which may come into question during separation or divorce.

It’s vital to get guidance from an experienced Divorce Solicitor at an early stage, who can provide you with expert legal advice so you know what your options are.

For initial advice get in touch with our Divorce Solicitors.

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Your Right to Get Divorced

One of the first issues you’ll need to be sure of when it comes to your rights in divorce is, are you yourself entitled to a divorce?

If the following are true, then you are legally entitled to get a divorce:

  • That you’ve been married for over a year
  • Your relationship has permanently broken down
  • Your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage)
  • The UK is your permanent home or the permanent home of your husband or wife

Another point to be aware of is that a contested (disputed) divorce will cost a lot more money and take a great deal longer if the divorce has to go to Court and be decided by a Judge. Many couples can find mutual agreement on both wanting a divorce and the reasoning behind it.

Even if you only need a Divorce Solicitor to help you get a fair financial settlement, or to resolve a child custody dispute, the best way to keep your divorce costs down, is to avoid going to Court. Your divorce solicitor can talk you through the options.

Your Financial Rights in Divorce

In divorce cases, there are no watertight rules regarding your financial rights, but when agreeing the financial settlement, certain conditions are better than others.

For example, if you were the main breadwinner in your marriage and your partner stayed home to look after the children, you might receive less financially from the divorce.

When it comes to dividing assets such as the family home it can become a little trickier, but there are a range of options available to you that your Divorce Solicitor can explain to you. When you have that conversation with your Solicitor it’s important to set out your preferences of which assets you might want in your divorce settlement.

Your Divorce Solicitor will also run through the different factors that the Court may take into account, such as:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Your age, and your spouse’s age
  • Which assets are held jointly, and which are held individually
  • Your income and pension provisions
  • Your income and capital needs
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Your Property Rights in Divorce

You and your ex-partner have a choice when it comes to working out how money and property are divided. If you can both agree on how these will be split, then you can avoid going to Court entirely and save time, money and stress.

When you and your ex agree on how to divide your matrimonial assets, a Divorce Solicitor can make your agreement legally binding, and also come to any agreement on child maintenance at the same time. However, a judge will have to look at any agreement you reach to make sure it’s fair and your interests are met.

Your Right of Occupation

You have a right of occupation even if you are not a joint owner of the marital home. You have the right to live there, and you cannot be excluded from the household if, for example, your ex decided to have the locks changed. Make sure your interest in the property is protected however and speak to your solicitor about putting a notice against the title for the property.

Your Rights Concerning Children

Children play an important role here too. If there are children from the relationship, the Court will give priority to whoever is caring for them, and address their needs.

Divorcing parents can have a dramatic effect on the wellbeing of children, as it can cause them a lot of emotional distress. The Court will always put the best interests of the children first.

The children have a right to a relationship with both parents. They cannot be denied this right by the Court or anyone unless there is evidence of physical or emotional abuse by one parent towards the children. The children’s welfare is at the heart of the Court's decision making.

As married parents who have both names on a child’s birth certificate, you will both have what is known as Parental Responsibility for that child. This means you retain the right to have access to information and share in the important decisions on the child’s behalf, such as where they go to school or health matters.

This means that whether you are the birth mother or father, you have an equal right to contact with your child and an equal right to care for them.

Our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors can advise you further, recommending what would be best in your particular circumstances.

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