Divorce can be a Tall Order, But Planning Ahead Helps
Last week it was revealed that a woman in Saudi Arabia had decided to divorce her husband of 7 months because he is too short, and she could no longer deal with being far taller than her spouse. Her legal papers revealed that she could no longer withstand the mockery and shocked looks of her friends because of the height difference (Daily Mail, Oct 1).
People divorce for all kinds of reasons that may seem quite strange to others. Unfortunately, getting a divorce
in England and Wales often means having to dredge up these details. This isn't ideal and hopefully the fault based system will change in the future, but for now, what can you do to safeguard against a complicated divorce?
A Divorce System Increasing Animosity
To be granted a divorce in England and Wales you must show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and you then need to give 1 of 5 reasons for the divorce.
The law at present in many ways encourages hostility between the couple divorcing as the most commonly used grounds are unreasonable behaviour, adultery or desertion. To avoid apportioning blame you must either show that you have been separated for 2 years and both parties agree to the divorce, or that you have been separated for 5 years without agreement.
We could be set to see change in favour of no longer needing to give a reason after calls from national family lawyer's organisation Resolution
, and with MP Mr Richard Bacon bringing forward a 10 minute rule motion this October.
Until then, choosing a solicitor that can manage your divorce discretely and efficiently can help. Our Associate Solicitor specialising in Family Law, Carol Chrisfield, explains:"We don't judge the reasons for the breakdown of a relationship; we are here to support you in helping your divorce run as smoothly as possible. It is unfortunate that we still need to prove grounds for divorce which are often based on behaviour, but if this is the case we will always try to draft any divorce petition sensitively to avoid undue distress that could impact on future negotiations."
Providing Certainty for the Future
With almost 50% of marriages ending in divorce, there has never been a more appropriate time to consider taking action to avoid the possible future need to bring up bitter arguments in court battles.
One way of pre-empting any potential future complications and clearly defining the division of assets is by drafting a pre-nuptial agreement
or a cohabitation agreement.
An article in the Scotsman (5th Oct) highlighted that contrary to popular belief, marriage contracts didn't originate in Hollywood, but actually in 14th Century Scotland. This was to step in to protect women's rights before the law had caught up, but now, they're increasingly used to afford more control as divorce rates rise.
Carol also explains how agreements can even help those who aren't choosing to marry:"Most people have heard about pre-nuptial agreements but very few have heard or have thought about cohabitation agreements. Given the number of people that now live together without marrying, they should definitely be considered.""The agreement will set out the rights and obligations of the parties and can protect assets and particular property, whether or not this is held by one party or held by them jointly. This may relevant where the parties do not contribute equally, or where one may have assets that they owned prior to any relationship."Our expert Family Law solicitors at Simpson Millar are here to help whether you just want to know more about your rights, if you are starting to think about drafting a pre-nuptial or pre-cohabitation agreement, or if you need professional help with your divorce.