Often dubbed as ‘Divorce Day’, the first Monday of each new year is the most popular time for divorcing couples to seek out family law advice. This is because it is usually at the end of each year that our lives begin to slow down and we are able to take some time to properly reflect – who we are and where we see ourselves in the future. In this process of creating resolutions, it’s only natural for us to reflect on our relationships. Sadly, some couples
come to the realisation that they have fallen out of love or grown apart. This is the most commonly cited reason for divorce.
Key Facts on Divorce
Here are some interesting facts on divorce, collected by the UK’s government’s Office for National Statistics:
- It is expected that 42% of marriages will end in divorce
- There were 13 divorces per hour in 2012 in England and Wales
- 1 in 7 marriages ended because of adultery
- The average age for divorce was 45 for men and 42 for women
- 48% of couples divorcing had at least one child aged under 16 living with the family
- Most divorces (71%) were for first marriages
- 9% of couples divorcing had both been divorced before
If you find yourself thinking about divorce in the New Year, it is important to note that there are legal steps you can take to protect your personal, family and business assets. Some individuals prefer to protect their assets by way of limited company structures while others may opt to set up family trusts. Sometimes what you do not know can adversely impact you. This is why it is preferable to obtain legal advice as early as you can in a relationship, especially before a marriage has completely broken down. It is wise for spouses who may find themselves in a weaker financial position than their partners to go for a free consultation with a solicitor to determine what they should do to prepare and what steps they can take to get a better sense of their family’s finances. This advice will be invaluable when it comes to negotiating a fair financial settlement between the parties. Another option may be to try counselling or mediation services to handle a separation as this offers a discreet way to resolve issues between the couple.
United Kingdom, a prime location for international divorces
Many foreign nationals come to the UK and elect to have their divorces handled by English courts, should they qualify to. This is primarily because English law gives greater discretionary powers to their courts compared to comparable jurisdictions, say France. In particular, the landmark case of White v White in 2000, established the principle that the domestic contributions made by a spouse would be comparable to financial contributions made by a spouse. For example, if one spouse stayed at home to raise children the other spouse worked full-time, they were both deemed to have made equal contributions for their family’s well-being. As such, any wealth accumulated by a working spouse through the course of their marriage years should be divided fair and equitably between both spouses. The English courts tend to favour the concept of equality over trying to use rigid formulas to determine what would be deemed to be a fair reasonable living needs arrangement upon divorce. This is in contrast to European jurisdictions in which there is no legal requirement to share assets in the same way upon divorce. In fact, spouses in these jurisdictions are within their legal right to request that property acquired before marriage stay with a spouse under the community property regime principle.
Perhaps another reason why cases of divorce increase in the beginning of each year is that English law attracts international divorcees to English courts as such courts have the power to demand access to all financial records worldwide. This means that wealthy spouses who try and hide assets can be compelled to make a complete disclosure of all assets. Then, judges have the final say on what would be deemed to be an appropriate division of assets by considering the facts of each case and referring to the statutory checklist. Moreover, English courts can set aside an agreement which was made less than three years before a divorce court application. For greater clarity, if it becomes evident that the intention of entering into such agreement was to defeat an applicant’s claim for financial provisions upon divorce, then the court can set aside an agreement and award a division of assets they deem to be fair. Hence, while prenuptial agreements, post-nuptials, family trusts are all valuable mechanisms to safeguard your assets, the courts are more likely to deem them binding, if it is clear that they were created before marriage or early on in the marriage.
If you find yourself in need of family law advice in the new year, please contact one of the specialists at Grayfords law.
For more info on divorce facts and figures, see link below- http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/taxonomy/index.html?nscl=Divorces
by Pooja Sihra
Pooja is a guest blogger for Grayfords. Pooja is an international, post-graduate LLB candidate studying at City University London. She received her BA (Hon.) in Law and Society/Sociology in 2009 as well as a Master’s in Public Policy, Administration and Law in 2013 from York University in Toronto, Canada. Her interest in family law developed after navigating the challenges of acting as an estate trustee without a will in a family matter.