Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce – (i.e. everything you wanted to know about divorce but were too afraid to ask)

We have put together a list of frequently asked questions regarding divorce – should you have any queries not covered here, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.

Are divorce records public?

We are frequently asked whether anyone can look at anyone else’s divorce records. It is the case in the UK that whilst the divorce files held at Court contain marriage certificate, divorce petitions and copies of any of the decree nisi’s or decree absolute, the only document available to the public is the Decree Absolute. Many are worried if they file a Petition for unreasonable behaviour whether the details are available to be divulged to the general public. Unless there is an open defended Petition, in open Court, no details of the unreasonable behaviour petition are available for public consumption. This means only the two people involved need ever know what was contained in the petition, other than the judge certifying the matter for decree nisi and absolute.


Are divorce settlements taxable?

There are many forms of divorce settlement. Income tax is not payable on maintenance payments whether they are spousal or child maintenance. Money transferred between ex-spouses which forms part of a divorce settlement either to equalise assets between the parties or to distribute them is not taxable to the person receiving the assets and is not tax deductible by the person transferring. Generally, transfers between spouses are non-taxable but take caution, that any transfers must take place during the year of separation to avoid triggering capital gains tax. There are some taper reliefs available if there is a delay on a transfer of the main home from one to other but again ensure that you are aware of the time limits.


Is divorce online legal?

Divorces online can be legal but take caution on choosing the correct one. There are very good precedents online but effectively you should ensure that it is compliant with what is expected from the divorce courts and does not fall foul of any of the requirements. In order to deal with a divorce online it is necessary to fully complete the divorce petition providing your full names, details and an original marriage certificate. Whatever method of divorce online you follow, you will have to pay the Court fee for issuing the petition and decree absolute which is currently £550. There may also be a fee payable to utilise the service. Again, take caution if you want to deal with a divorce settlement. Whilst the divorce petition itself is easy to deal with online, you must ensure that you get the correct advice as to the amount of financial settlement and how this can be achieved. Do not be tempted to fail to put a Consent Order into the Court if settlement has been reached. This could lead to difficulties at a later date.


Can divorce be stopped / put on hold?

Divorce can be halted at any stage either before or after decree nisi. If you have put a petition into court and wish to stop proceedings altogether and withdraw them, then an application can be jointly made by both parties to withdraw it and dismiss the proceedings. If you have reached decree nisi, again you should ensure that you are aware whether you want to withdraw and dismiss the proceedings altogether or simply put them on hold whilst you can investigate the possibility of a reconciliation. If you have waited more than a year after the decree nisi has been granted, you will have to make an application to court so that the court is aware whether there have been any change of circumstances or any other children born to the marriage after the decree nisi. This will then enable you to proceed to decree absolute if you wish to do so. If you have a petition in court which you have simply asked the court to halt, this can always be amended at a later date if it has not been withdrawn from court by adding amended particulars if it is an unreasonable behaviour petition.


Can divorce be free?

The question of whether divorce can be absolutely free is often asked. The answer to this is “no”. Whilst costs can be limited if proceedings are dealt with online, nevertheless you will always have to pay for the court costs of the petition and decree absolute and any other applications that are made to court. The costs of a divorce ie the legal costs, can vary dramatically. It may be that you can receive advice through to the Citizens Advice Bureau which can be free, or other third parties who might be willing to give such advice or by obtaining full advice online. However, free items can end up being very expensive if you do not receive the correct legal advice and enter into the financial settlement that can impact on both you and your children for many years to come.


Can divorce settlements be reopened?

It is exceedingly difficult to reopen a financial divorce settlement once the same has been approved by the court with a court seal. There are specific criteria for reopening a financial settlement and that is if there has been fraud or material misrepresentation. The case law in relation to this is very clear but if someone has made a representation upon which the other party has relied and it turns out to be totally incorrect, and would have made a difference to the settlement had the correct position been known at the time, then the Court can reopen the case. It is for this reason that parties are advised to make full and proper financial disclosure at the time of the settlement or imminently before or else face the risk of their settlements being reopened if their misrepresentation would have made a substantive difference. This applies both to Court hearings and if agreement is reached consensually. To learn more, check out our article titled, Can A Divorce Settlement Be Reopened?


Can divorce papers be served by email?

Divorce papers can be served by email provided that a read receipt is obtained and evidence can be produced to the court unequivocally that the recipient has actually received the divorce papers. It is prudent to serve by both post and by email at the same time so that if necessary, a statement proving service can be delivered to the Court. If a Court is in any doubt that the other person has not received the divorce papers if there is a silence or the acknowledgement of service is not completed. Then the onus to prove service falls on the person seeking to rely on it. If there is any doubt then be prudent and deal with matters by post, email and even consider personal service. The Courts are particularly hot on proving that it has been properly served especially if it is being served out of the jurisdiction, they will additional proof that it has been received.


Can divorce happen in pregnancy?

Divorce is always a question of timing and sometimes the parties wish to divorce when the other party is pregnant. This can be because the facts of a pregnancy comes as a shock and causes the last straw in the marriage or because one or other of the parties did not wish this to occur. As a firm we do not recommend parties to divorce during pregnancy if it can be avoided or indeed up to six months after a child is born because of the emotional upheaval that this causes. We are also of the view that sometimes the hormonal imbalance that it is caused by pregnancy or birth can cause extra emotional surges that can make parties make decisions that may not be in their best interests. If there is a divorce during pregnancy, once the child is born, then there will still be liabilities for the child’s upkeep notwithstanding that the child may not yet have born. This is because by law the father of the child will still be liable for his/her upkeep. Further, the fact of the birth of the child or the anticipated birth of the child, can lead to additional financial obligations in a divorce settlement.


How divorce works in the UK?

In the UK at the present time, despite the suggestions by David Gawk the previous Justice Minister that there was going to be a change in the divorce laws in the United Kingdom, after he had retired, this no longer applied. Whilst there is still a bill going through Parliament to change the fault based divorce to no fault divorce, this is still not law. This means that at the current time, in order to divorce, you have to establish that the marriage irretrievably broken down based on five facts namely:


  • That the Respondent has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them; or 
  • The Respondent has been behaved in a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them (unreasonable behaviour petition); or
  • There has been two years desertion; or
  • Two years separation with consent; or
  • Five years separation.


The plan by David Gawk was to abolish all of those grounds and simply have the parties give notice to divorce with a requisite period for this to take place. A divorce in the UK can take place without a financial settlement but it is prudent to obtain a financial settlement before there is a decree absolute or else face financial difficulty if the person dies in the interim.


How divorce affects children?

Many articles have been written about the impact of divorce on children in the UK. The specific information in most of the reports suggests that the absence of one of the parents in the children’s lives ie the father can cause children to become distressed, have a lack of concentration at school and can impact on their future emotional wellbeing. These factors are very much based on areas for the divorce itself, on the financial position of the parties, and of the approach that the parties take to the divorce itself. If the parties behave sensibly towards the children, the impact will be minimal. Children from wealthier families tend to do better than those from poorer families. However, if children from more wealthy families have the funds to allow them to get in with the wrong crown or to start taking drugs with the financial assistance that they have, then divorce can just as much affect middle class and upper-class children. There tends to be a lot of scaremongering particular in the media about the effects of divorce on children, but there is also enormous literature out their online and otherwise on how to have a happy divorce that minimises the affect on children.


How divorce settlement is calculated?

In the United Kingdom, divorce settlements are based on the rights that each party may have against the other. These are for maintenance which is otherwise known as periodical payments, secured periodical payments, lump sums orders, property adjustment orders ie for housing, pension sharing or splitting, and generally division of other assets. In order to consider what the correct settlement is, both parties would be expected to fill in documents of disclosure which are known as Form E’s. These are documents that were devised by Judges to show the full extent of the parties’ assets, debts, liabilities and tax liabilities. The first place that the Court will go is to calculate what the needs of both of the parties are for housing and to pay for their bills, mortgages etc. The Court will determine what monies is available for housing and the mortgage ability of both parties. They will then see what is the shortfall between the needs of the parties and what they are able to produce. The starting point for any divorce settlement is equalisation of the capital and if there is enough money to capitalise or pay out a final settlement, the Court will look first to that ability before considering whether maintenance should be payable. If there is not sufficient money to clean break the parties’ settlement, then there will be a split settlement of part capital and part maintenance. Whilst the starting point for a divorce settlement is a 50:50 split, this can be changed depending on the other party’s needs. It is not automatic that you will receive 50% of the home particularly if your wife needs more to rehouse. Divorce settlements and how they are calculated is a very complicated matter and is based on many factors.


What divorce feels like?

Divorce can feel very different to each of the parties, depending on whether you are the party that wished to have the divorce or not. Divorce will feel very different depending on your background, the circumstances of the matter and how the divorce ended and your financial circumstances. So for example there are some divorces that can feel incredibly easy, consensual, and will result in the parties having very little change in their lifestyles. Other divorces can feel like a mountain has to be climbed, and very disorientating for the parties. Also, the impact of the divorce will very much depend on the legal advice given and whether the parties feel that they have understood the process and been supported throughout by both their lawyers, families and friends.


What divorce papers do I need to remarry?

In order to remarry in this country, the process would require you to produce your decree absolute ie the final decree that you obtained on divorce. Normally the decree absolute will only be granted after a financial settlement has been fully concluded. You will only need to produce the decree absolute and any other papers that the registrar would require for your remarriage. In certain religious marriages, it will be necessary to produce evidence that a religious has been entered into either by way of a Talaq or a Get, dependent on the religious ceremony being undertaken.


What divorce does to a woman?

The impact of a divorce on a way depends on many factors. The research undertaken over the last few years demonstrates that if a woman has grown up in a very secure background that she would be less likely to be impacted emotionally by the divorce itself. However, there is other research that suggests that it very much depends on the circumstances by which the marriage ended. For example, if a woman has been cheated on by her husband, then this may impact very deeply on her psyche and confidence. One of the main issues that women describe when a marriage comes to an end is that their confidence is very lacking and that this has been caused quite often by a sustained undermining of them by their partner. We often will suggest that women in particular should undertake some form of counselling either during the divorce itself to help them through the process or after to allow them to regain the confidence to enter into a new relationship.


What divorce does to a man?

Men often will say that the biggest impact on divorce is the inability to see their children in the way that they did before. If they feel that their relationship with their children is going to suffer then men will find it exceedingly difficult to go through the divorce process and feel an inordinate loss. Some men complain that the woman will be granted a lot more of the proceeds of a house than them on the basis that the children will remain with the wife, some men find that a very unfair scenario and can feel very embittered as a consequence. If a man has ended the marriage in order to set up a new relationship with another woman, then the impact of the divorce may lessen, the circumstances of the divorce and the finances can lead to whether it has a huge impact or little impact on them.


Which divorce papers do I file?

In order to obtain a divorce, you will need to fully complete a divorce petition and file with it the original of your marriage certificate. You will need to ensure that all parts of the divorce petition are completed with the correct names that mirror those that are on the marriage certificate. You will need to file three copies of the petition and a fee of £550 (which covers the issuing of the Petition and the decree absolute) on filing the Petition. You will also need to ask your solicitor, if you are using one, to complete what is known as a “certificate of reconciliation” confirming that they have discussed the possibility of reconciliation with you and whether they have given the names and details of those qualified to assist.

All the papers must be duly signed in the correct place so that the court can easily issue your petition. You should also indicate to the court whether you would like the papers back for personal service or whether you wish the court to serve them.


How to get divorced quickly?

In order to have a very quick divorce in the UK, you will need the cooperation of your other half. This can be achieved by ensuring that when the divorce petition is served, that they complete the acknowledgement of service to confirm that they have received the petition as quickly as possible and ensure that they return one copy to you and one to the court. You will then be in a position to apply for decree nisi at the earliest possible time. Simply dealing with the divorce is not the end of the story, and you will need to achieve a financial settlement. This can be achieved either by agreement between you or undertaking mediation on a speedy basis to ensure that an agreement is reached between you, that can be drawn up and submitted to the Court for their approval at the soonest possible time. Cooperation is the buzz word in relation to all parts of the divorce and if you can achieve this, your divorce will be quick and easy.


How to get divorced cheaply?

The cheapest way to get divorced in the UK is to use an online service for the divorce petition itself or instruct a lawyer with a very low hourly rate so that the divorce petition can be dealt with as quickly as possible. There will always be a payable court fee but the level of divorce costs will depend on how you go about the divorce. In order to reach agreement quickly if there is a dispute over who should divorce who, I would recommend that you undertake mediation. Mediation can deal with all aspects of divorce and financial settlement and normally is a cheaper hourly rate than divorce lawyers. If mediation is not something that can be undertaken because of difficulties in the relationship or the ability to talk in the same room, then there should be disclosure on a voluntary basis leading to an overall settlement between solicitors at the cheapest rate and over the quickest period.


How much does it cost to file for a divorce in the UK?

The cost of filing for a divorce in the UK in relation to court costs are the same. These costs £550 which covers the petition and the granting of decree absolute. The amount of the actual divorce costs will depend on whether you use a solicitor to do this for you and their hourly rate and the amount of time that it takes or whether you choose to use an online service and the amount of their charges. Each law firm charges a different rate and you should investigate this by phoning around to them to find out what the rates are that will be charged to you. Do remember that it is not simply filing the divorce papers that is the final issue but the cost of dealing with a divorce settlement as well. The average cost for a divorce practitioner varies between £500 plus VAT plus court fees to £3,000 plus VAT and court fees. To learn more about divorce costs, see our post called How Much Does A Divorce In The UK Cost


How long does it take to get a divorce in the UK?

The amount of time it takes to a divorce in the UK will very much depend on the following factors:-


  1. Is your wife or husband prepared to cooperate and to agree to the grounds for a divorce that you have set out?
  2. In relation to an adultery petition if they deny adultery then you will have to start over with a different kind of petition.
  3. In the case of an unreasonable behaviour petition a draft will have to be served first and then the petition lodged with the Court.


The amount of time that it takes for the court to process these documents will depend on the court concerned. Some courts are exceedingly busy and will take much longer to issue a petition or grant a decree absolute. Please remember that there is an obligatory six weeks and one day wait between decree nisi and decree absolute. Again, most practitioners would recommend that you do not apply for decree absolute until the financial settlement has been sorted. In some cases if there is a dispute over the financial settlement then it can lengthen the period of the divorce process. Most average divorces taken between six months to a year. See our article to learn more about How Long It Takes To Get A Divorce In The UK 


How much does it cost to get a divorce if both parties agree?

If both parties agree on the divorce process itself and the financial settlement there will be court costs to pay of £550 and the costs of drafting up a consent order to put into court. The costs of this kind of divorce can very between £1,000 to £3,000 plus VAT or less if the parties draft all the documentation themselves which is not recommended. To learn about how an amicable divorce works, see our post here.


Is dating during separation adultery UK?

Many people get confused as to what amounts to adultery in the UK. Put simply in order to achieve an adultery petition you have to demonstrate that sexual intercourse has taken place. Accordingly, if you date during separation but do not have sexual intercourse, then it cannot amount to adultery. If however before there is a decree nisi you have sexual intercourse with someone other than your husband or wife, this will still rank as adultery. The advice to be given is do not enter into another relationship before you have a decree nisi unless you desist from any sexual intercourse.


What is the cheapest way to get a divorce?

The cheapest way to get a divorce is for both parties to agree who should be the petitioner and who should be the respondent, to agree whether there is going to be an adultery petition or not, in which case one of the parties will have to give a confession statement. If you are going to proceed on unreasonable behaviour the particulars of behaviour should be agreed between you. The financial settlement should be agreed as quickly as possible so that you will avoid enormous costs. It is important to take advice from a lawyer as to the parameters of a divorce settlement before entering into such an agreement, otherwise mistakes can be made. It will be helpful to use a lawyer mediator if you have limited funds to reach an earliest possible settlement.


What are the five stages of divorce?

The five stages of divorce are often referred to as the five stages of grief they include:


  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance


Often there are more nuance emotions that will vary based on the circumstances of the case. People who don’t initiate a divorce can often spend significant amounts of time in denial. So too can those who have the marriage convincing themselves that the party left was to blame. The blame game can hold parties in a pattern of unhappiness for a very long time and can prolong divorce proceedings themselves if the parties don’t go through the relevant processes. It is exceedingly important to recognise the stages that you are going through and work through them with a therapist if you are stuck on one of the stages. It is also important to know that if you are in denial and blaming unnecessarily that this will have more likelihood of an impact on the children of the family.


How long do you have to be separated before divorce in UK?

If you wish to petition on two years separation with the consent of the other party, then you must be separated for an uninterrupted period of two years before you do so. If you wish to petition on five years separation, then again there must be an uninterrupted period of five years in order for you to do so. If however, you do not wish to base your divorce on separation, then there is no mandatory period of separation in order to divorce. There is however a requirement that in order to divorce, you must have been married for a period of one year from the date of the marriage itself, before you can issue divorce proceedings.


Who pays for a divorce?

A Petitioner in a divorce petition can claim the costs of the divorce petition itself which include the costs of their solicitor and the court costs up to a maximum amount. The costs of the divorce settlement are met by the parties themselves as there is a presumption of no order for costs. If you do wish your partner to pay for the costs of the divorce, please ensure that you get your solicitor to sign the petition and that you don’t sign the same in person. If you personally sign the divorce petition, you are not entitled to the costs of a solicitor. This is a mistake that quite often is made by the parties and should be avoided.


Where do I start with divorce?

In order to start dealing with a divorce, my very firm advice would be to take advice from a solicitor as to whether you have sufficient grounds to commence divorce proceedings. Once you have been advised on that issue, you can then draft and issue your divorce petition, having firstly served a draft on your partner. You will have to consider what financial settlement will be appropriate and take advice on that but you may have to go through a process of the financial position in order for a solicitor to advise you. When going to see a divorce lawyer, it is important that you have all the facts at your fingertips and make some notes before doing so.


Is adultery a crime in the UK?

Adultery is not a crime in the UK. Adultery is a civil matter for which you can issue a divorce petition. The ground for divorce appropriate to this is that the respondent has committed adultery and you find it intolerable with them. In order to proceed to adultery, you must ensure that you can prove that sexual intercourse has taken place or obtain a confession statement from your husband/wife.


Does Adultery Affect Divorce UK?

Adultery will not impact on any financial settlement in the UK unless there is a financial consequence to the adultery. If it can be established that the adulterous relationship consisted of your husband or wife expended significant sums of the matrimonial assets on their girlfriend or boyfriend, then this might rank as dissipation of matrimonial assets that could have an impact on the divorce settlement. Other than that, unless there is a child born of the adulterous relationship which again will impact on the finances, the adultery will have no effect. Many clients feel that there should be some kind of penalty for adultery but this simply does not exist.


Can I get divorced without my spouse’s signature UK?

The divorce courts do require evidence that your spouse has been served with the divorce petition. In most cases this does require them to have signed the acknowledgement of service confirming that they have received the petition and are aware of its contents. Sometimes if you can demonstrate that you have made every effort to effect service but that your spouse simply does not wish to cooperate in the proceedings, if you can demonstrate that they have been served both by post, by email and by personal service, and they do not respond, then you can apply to the Court for what is known as “deemed service”. This means that the Court can deem that the spouse has been properly served and will allow the petition to proceed on an undefended basis. There is a very high standard of proof required in these cases. If the court believe that the divorce may be a sham with foreign nationals divorcing in order to obtain status in the UK they will severely question the veracity of the service.


Can you get a divorce without going to court?

You can get a divorce in the UK without the necessity of going to court. This can apply equally to the divorce petition on an undefended basis where it is simply a paper exercise by the court. The court on looking at granting a decree will see that all the papers are in order and there has been proper service and a response from the other spouse. It will also apply to the financial settlement if there is a consent order with the requisite papers placed before the court. There is no necessity for the parties to attend court unless the court requires it if there are substantive questions to be asked about the financial settlement.


How do you emotionally survive a divorce?

How individuals emotionally survive a divorce will very much depend on their own background. A very secure self-assured spouse will be more likely to survive a divorce emotionally with the least impact. Someone who comes from a background where they have felt unsecure and their emotions have been supressed, will find it more difficult to survive a divorce. It is imperative according to therapists that you recognise that it is acceptable to have different feelings and feelings of insecurity and upset at different stages. The advice that is given by the top therapist that it is important to give yourself a break at times from the process, to ensure that you do not go through the process alone, and that you receive the maximum support from family and friends. This means that you must ensure that you take care of yourself emotionally and physically. Many clients can find themselves not eating properly and failing to sleep. If you have children, it is important to reassure them and listen to them to maintain stability in your routines with them, the more routine it is the more familiar life will be of a consistent discipline with them.

It is important to let your children know they can rely on you and not to involve them in the conflict.


What happens when you get divorced?

When you receive a decree absolute on divorce, the financial settlement that you would have entered into then becomes enforceable. Up until that time, technically the settlement cannot be enforced. A decree absolute dissolves the marriage that you entered into with your spouse and can also affect the terms of your Will. The financial settlement will override any other provisions that you have in your Will and therefore a recommendation from lawyers is always upon decree absolute to either writing a codicil to up date the terms of your Will or make an entirely fresh Will. Once the decree absolute is granted and the marriage is dissolved it will leave you and your spouse free to remarry again if you so wish.


How long after divorce did you remarry?

Upon decree absolute being granted, it is then open for you or your spouse to remarry. However, you should be very conscious of the fact that if you have represented in your financial settlement that you did not intend to cohabit or remarry and you do so within a very short period, it may be a circumstance that will lead to your spouse being able to reopen your financial settlement. If you have formed a relationship with someone else but indicated that you did not intend to remarry, after about six months there can of course be a change of circumstance and you may decide that you do now wish to remarry. You must clearly balance the timing of this or else face a potential reopening of a settlement.


What is the new divorce law in the UK?

A new divorce law is contemplated in the UK, this has not yet received the Royal assent. It is proposed that it will sweep away the current grounds for divorce based on unreasonable behaviour, separation or adultery so that a “no fault” divorce will be introduced. The proposals include retaining irretrievable breakdown of marriage as the sole ground for a divorce, replacing the requirement to provide evidence of a fact around behaviour or separation with a simple requirement of a statement of irretrievable breakdown, retaining the two stage process of decree nisi and decree absolute, creating the option of a joint application by the parties for divorce or an option of one party to initiate the process. It is proposed that the ability to contest a divorce will be removed absolutely and there will be a minimum timeframe of six months from the petition to the final divorce ie 20 weeks from petition stage to decree nisi and six weeks and one day from decree nisi to decree absolute.


What is unreasonable Behaviour in divorce UK?

At the current time you can divorce based on the marriage having irretrievably broken down and the fact that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them. This is a subjective test of what you find to be unreasonable but must be sufficient to get through the courts. Unreasonable behaviour can range from very anodyne allegations such as leaving the top off the toothpaste or making your partner feel lonely with the marriage to more extreme allegations of violence, harassment and intimidation. In order to proceed under this ground, under what is known as “the Law Society protocol”, a draft of your proposed petition should be sent to your spouse or their solicitor so that they can have time to consider the allegations. This is to try to avoid a contested petition. Once they have either approved these or rejected the same, a petition can then be lodged with the court.


Do both parties need a solicitor in divorce?

Whilst technically both parties do not need a solicitor in a divorce scenario, nevertheless it is always desirable for each party to retain their own legal advice. Whilst it is not so important in relation to the divorce petition itself, in relation to finances, if only one party has legal advice it could be suggested that the other party has been subjected to duress or pressure in agreeing a financial settlement. This means that at a later date the party that has not received any legal advice, could allege that they did not have sufficient information on which to form a decision or they were subject to duress at the time. This will then enable them to possibly reopen the entire settlement and have the matter re-adjudicated. In order to avoid this, it is absolutely vital in every case that the party that does have a solicitor advises the other of their right to seek legal advice and the need for them to do so. My advice would be in every case, that the parties should retain a lawyer to ensure that there are no difficulties in the future and the correct financial settlement is reached.


Is the wife entitled to half of everything in a divorce?

The answer to this often-asked question is that the wife is not necessarily entitled to half of everything in a divorce. The starting point for every divorce financial settlement is an equal division of the capital assets. However, this can be departed from if it is reasonable to do so. This means that if there are substantive pre-acquired assets that have been built up before the marriage, or the marriage is very short, or there are no children, or there are equal assets and earning capacity, then the entitlement to half goes out of the window. Furthermore, there is no presumption of a starting point of half of the income. Parties often get this wrong and state that they want to have half of their partners income as well as capital but this is not the law. The courts will look at the needs of the parties and whether the needs can be bet by an equal division. There are times when the wife may be entitled to more than half of the matrimonial home in order to meet her housing needs.


What is No Fault Divorce UK?

At the current time we do not have No Fault Divorce. We have a fault-based system whereby grounds for divorce must be cited in order to obtain a divorce. These are either separation, adultery or behaviour. No fault divorce is currently being contemplated by new laws that were supposed to be introduced in 2019 but are currently on hold. No fault divorce means that grounds will be swept away and simple notice given by one party or both parties will enable the parties to divorce based on irretrievable breakdown. It must be noted that it is not currently the law in the UK although no fault divorce is available in most European countries, USA and most of the world.


What is a simple dissolution of marriage?

There is much confusion as to what is meant by a dissolution of the marriage. Put simply, on decree absolute, the marriage is dissolved which means that the parties are no longer considered to be married, can enter into a fresh marriage themselves, can make provisions under their own Wills or fresh Wills, and can lead separate lives.


Is it okay to date while going through a divorce?

Until a marriage is dissolved the parties are still married and there is much confusion about the do’s and don’ts of this. The most important thing to remember is that if you start to date someone else whilst you are going through a divorce, that if you commit adultery or have sex with the other person that this can then lead to your spousal petitioning on that ground. Furthermore, dating in itself isn’t prejudicial, however, if that person is staying with you say for more than three days a week, then it could be considered to be cohabitation which could then affect your financial settlement. The cardinal rule therefore is simple dating is acceptable, sex is not, cohabitation can be prejudicial to your case.


What can wife claim in divorce?

Both parties have a right to make claims for financial relief against each other. This will include claims for maintenance ie periodical payments or secured periodical payments, lump sums, property adjustment orders, pensions and any other assets etc. What a wife or spouse can claim will depend on the assets available. If a wife is earning the same as her husband, then she will not have an entitlement to maintenance. If she is earning a little less than her husband, she could stay be precluded from maintenance. Child maintenance will be available to the wife if the children are living with her and the husband is separated from her. It is very important to seek legal advice as to the parameters of a settlement before entering into any agreement with your spouse.


Can I get half of my husband’s pension in a divorce?

As part of any claims in divorce, a wife may be entitled to seek a share of her husband’s pension. The amount of the pension will depend very much on the length of the marriage, the amount of the pension and whether or not the wife has pension provision herself. As a rule of thumb, a wife can claim up to half of her husband’s pension on divorce by way of a pension share, but there are specific rules in relation to this that the husband could ringfence some of the pension that has been built up before the marriage or after separation. The amount of the pension should be determined as part of an overall divorce settlement, bearing in mind that sometimes a wife may prefer to have more upfront assets such as more of the house and waive her right to the pension. Specific advice should be taken in relation to this and if necessary actuarial advice in relation to how much there should be of a pension split by way of a percentage.


Can I file for divorce online?

It is always possible to file a divorce online provided that you comply with all of the necessary requirements. This means that you must have the petition completed in full and file with the court through the online service your original marriage certificate. You must be quite clear about the grounds for divorce under which you wish to proceed. If you have not been separated for two years or more, you cannot file for divorce based on two years separation. If you do not have the consent of your spouse to have a two year separation with consent, you cannot proceed under that ground. If you have not been deserted for two years, you cannot file a petition on that basis.

If you can prove that adultery has taken place, then you could petition on the grounds of your spouse’s adultery, online. You will either have to have a confession statement from them or proof of adultery. If they deny the adultery and you have no proof, you will have to change or amend your petition online. If you wish to proceed for unreasonable behaviour, then again you will have had to have served a draft beforehand but thereafter you can file your petition for unreasonable behaviour online. Please be sure to complete all parts of the petition, particularly about jurisdiction and ensure that the spelling is correct and that the names are set out clearly that are on the marriage certificate.


Do I have to share my pension when I divorce?

There is much speculation about whether you have to share a pension on divorce. There are many ways that pensions can be dealt with on divorce namely: –

There can be a pension splitting at the time of the divorce and this will depend on the length of the marriage and the rest of the settlement. It will also depend on how many pensions that you have and quite often a pension’s actuary will have to advise the parties taking into account both parties’ pensions. Sometimes the parties will wait until there is an actual retirement before they will take their pensions and this kind of order can be made if the parties so wish but it is preferable to have a pension splitting, so that the pension is split when the divorce takes place. Sometimes you will not need to share your pension if much of it was built up before the marriage or after separation. Further, sometimes a pension will be traded off or set off against other assets ie the house or other lump sums so that you can retain your pension. As a rule of thumb, if this has been a long marriage, the court would want to split the income on retirement.


Does divorce revoke a will?

Divorce does not necessarily revoke a Will, nor does it mean that a Will made before you were married comes back into effect. Whilst the current Will remains valid, for inheritance purposes, your ex-partner may be treated as if they had died when your marriage or civil partnership was dissolved. The advice that is given to every client on divorce is that you must update your Will because if you do not do so, this can have serious consequences for your estate or for your intentions. Ex-spouses can make a claim on your estate if they were being financially maintained by you. If you were financially maintaining your ex-partner after divorce ie by paying them maintenance, and they are not included in your Will they could potentially make a claim under the Inheritance Act. It is important to ensure that your executors are prepared in case there is a challenge to the Will and there must be flexibility to negotiate with your ex-partner to protect the interests of other beneficiaries.


Does it make any difference who caused the divorce?

The courts do not take into account any information about who was to blame for the divorce. It is for this reason that many practitioners have been campaigning for no fault divorce. The only impact on the financial settlement is if there has been any financial misconduct or spending of matrimonial assets that have prejudiced the other party. This means that monies that have been spent on drugs or drink or on a girlfriend or boyfriend or have been negligently frittered away could be taken into account. This means that the court could consider that you have already had those monies and they should come down on your side of the equation. In the absence of financial misconduct of any kind, any adultery or unreasonable behaviour or separation will not have any impact whatsoever on the financial settlement.


What happens if my spouse refuses to get divorced?

If your spouse refuses to get divorce, it means that they would have had to have filed with the Court an acknowledgement of service to your petition indicating their intention to defend. They would then have to have filed a full defence to your petition called an Answer. If they simply state that they are of the view that the marriage has not irretrievably broken down, then the court would have to decide whether or not there are sufficient grounds for your divorce to be granted. This is what occurred on the case of Owens v Owens when the Supreme Court decided that there was not sufficient grounds for Mrs Owens to be granted her divorce based on unreasonable behaviour, and as a result she had to wait until she had been separated for a five-year period. After the five years of separation the court are very unlikely to refuse a divorce. The court when deciding these matters will have to hear evidence on both sides and from any witnesses to decide whether the party petitioning has sufficiently proved the grounds that they are relying on.


What is a divorce decree?

Under English law there are two decrees. The first is known as a decree nisi, this is a decree whereby the court finds that the facts upon which a petitioner is basing their petition have been approved. For example if you have petitioned for adultery then adultery is substantiated or unreasonable behaviour, that the grounds set out have been found as facts, or in the case of separation, that the period for separation has been established. Once there is a decree nisi, it is possible for the court to make orders in relation to finances or a consent order ie an agreement between the parties as to finances to be lodged with the court to conclude the financial arrangements. Until there is a decree nisi, no agreement can be finalised by the court.

Six weeks and one day after the decree nisi has been granted, it is open for the petitioner to apply for a decree absolute. It is very important not to apply for decree absolute until the financial settlement has been lodged with the Court and approved


What is a divorce petition?

A divorce petition in the UK is a document which is applying to the court on the basis that the marriage between the parties should be brought to an end or dissolved. A petition contains the names of the parties where they live, details of any children, the fact that the court has jurisdiction to deal with a divorce petition and the basis upon which the divorce is being sought. The petition is lodged with the court with your marriage certificate and the relevant fee seeking that the court will allow the divorce to proceed on an undefended basis so that the parties can then dissolve their marriage. There has to be jurisdiction of the court in order for a divorce petition to go before it. In the UK there is specific criteria for jurisdiction namely that the parties must have lived in the UK for six months before the presentation of the petition.


What is a divorce mediator?

mediation is a process by which the parties can be advised by a solicitor or barrister mediator as to the parameters of a financial settlement, the grounds for divorce, aspects relating to the children of the family and all issues. A divorce mediator is one that is trained in spotting the issues that can be discussed with the parties so that they can bring agreement to the parties as soon as possible. There are specially trained divorce mediators who are familiar with these issues. Under the processes now in order to issue a financial application to bring the matter to court or any aspects of children’s matters, a mediator’s advice should be sought in order to receive what is known as a “MIAMs” or mediation and information session. Without this, your applications cannot proceed.

Divorce mediators help the parties to reach an overall decision and then the parties will seek advice from their lawyers to draw up the agreement reached.


What happens to the family home in a divorce?

The family home is crucial to many divorce cases. There are cases where there are several family homes and therefore questions are often asked, is there a set procedure for dealing with the family home? The answer to this is if there is a case where the major asset is the family home, then the courts are more likely to award a greater percentage to the wife on dissolution. The reason for this is that in most cases, the children will be residing with the wife and therefore dependent upon the resources, the needs of the wife and the children take priority. However, the house can be dealt with in many different ways in a divorce scenario. The house can be transferred to one of the parties and held by them in final settlement, or there can be what is known as a “chargeback” or “Mesher or Martin order” which means that the other party may have a charge over the home until the children reach the age of 18 or cease full time education. Alternatively, the home can be sold and the proceeds divided in whatever percentage is either agreed by the parties or imposed by the Court. Quite often many women will trade off other parts of the settlement in order to retain the home.


Who gets the house in a divorce with children?

As a general rule, the house if it is going to be retained, would be retained on behalf of the wife who has a need to rehouse the children living with her. However, a starting point in cases involving the matrimonial home is a 50:50 split, so it is not always the case that a wife will retain the home or the majority of the same. The amount is very fact specific. It may well be that an agreement can be reached whereby the wife can stay in the home for a certain number of years and then the home can be sold and divided equally between the parties. Alternatively, the spouse to who is transferring the property may have a chargeback at a later date. There can be negotiations in relation to a divorce settlement and therefore it is not set in stone who would get the house or whether it should be sold. To learn more, check out our piece; Who Gets To Stay In The House During A Divorce 


Can I force the sale of my house in a divorce?

Whilst divorce proceedings are ongoing and a financial settlement is being decided before the court, the court will not order the sale of the matrimonial home. It is only at the final hearing that the court can make a decision that the house should be sold. This is because the court have to hear all of the circumstances of the matter before they can decide. If they were to order an immediate sale, it could predetermine some of the issues that should be left to a final hearing. If your spouse is unreasonably refusing to sell the matrimonial home in a market that may be falling, then it may be open to you to allege that there has been litigation misconduct that has led to the dissipation of some of the matrimonial assets by his or her intractable decision not to sell. It is often the case that to force an early sale of the matrimonial home even by agreement, will cause difficulties if it results in both parties having to use the sale proceeds to rent pending an overall agreement. This will only eat away at the assets.


Who gets to stay in the house during a divorce?

Both parties have a right to remain in the former matrimonial home during the course of divorce proceedings unless there are sufficient grounds for injunctive relief to oust your spouse from the home. This would mean that you would have to unequivocally prove that there has been harm or risk of harm. This is a very high test and quite often parties will try to manipulate a situation to get their spouse out of the home. The courts do not like these kind of injunctions and therefore in the absence of any clear proof of violence or threats or mental abuse, it is unlikely that an injunction would succeed and both parties have to simply ride out the situation until the divorce and financial settlement is either agreed or imposed by the Court.


Should you move out of the family home during a divorce?

This is an often-asked question where parties sometimes feel the pressure of the arguments between them and would often declare that they want to move out of the home. A solicitor’s advice would unequivocally be that you should not move out of the family home during the course of a divorce because it has many financial and other implications relating to the children. Our firm advice would be that unless there are substantive grounds to do so, that you should stay put in order that you don’t set a precedent in relation to maintenance payments which could form an unnecessary precedent in the interim or that you cause difficulties in relation to contact arrangements, if you are the person moving out this can prejudice you, and the fact that you have moved out pay put your spouse in the driving seat of the timing of the sale of the property or reaching agreement with you. It is prudent to preserve the assets pending a divorce and ensure that the status quo remains until divorce proceedings have been concluded or agreement reached.


Can you buy a house while going through a divorce?

Whist it is possible to purchase home whilst going through a divorce, it is very inadvisable since it will form part of the matrimonial assets in dispute. So for an example, if you purchase a house say for £500,000 or £800,000 that is more than your housing needs, then you have set a precedent of the housing needs of your partner which could prejudice your case. Further, if you had a purchased a house using your mortgage capacity which then impacts on the settlement, the court could in certain circumstances order that property to be sold in order to divide the assets fairly and sensibly. Our overriding advice is that no steps should be taken to purchase other assets whilst going through a divorce unless agreement has been struck. The difficulties that buying a new property would engender are not worth the risk.


Is dating during separation adultery?

Dating during separation provided no sexual intercourse takes place, cannot amount to adultery. It is unwise to date during separation because if there are no divorce proceedings afoot, then it could crystallise the situation with your spouse if you were simply separating with a view to a potential reconciliation. It could also impact on the situation if the suggestion is that the dating would become permanent leading to cohabitation. If adultery can be proved, ie that sexual intercourse has taken place, it will give rise to a ground for subsequent divorce to your spouse. The person that you are dating could also be cited in the divorce proceedings as the co-respondent and a copy of the petition subsequently served upon them.


How do I protect myself financially in a divorce?

There are few ways to protect yourself financially during divorce. One way is to separate non-marital assets ie to ensure that any assets that were purchased by you before the marriage have stayed in your sole name and have not been mingled with marital assets. You should also commence your own credit history to ensure that you can get credit if necessary, on divorce. You should ensure that all of your financial documentation is kept securely and copies of important records are made. Giving sufficient notice, you should cancel all jointly owned credit cards. It is vital to make a record of all matrimonial property to ensure that you know the full extent of all of the assets. It is also important that you secure your personal property and ensure that the other party cannot obtain it and dispose of it.

Any joint accounts should be closed with consent. It is also vital not to start spending huge sums of money buying high priced items so that your debt scenario is not too high. Hiring an experienced divorce lawyer is also vital to ensure that you have a strategy from the beginning of your case to minimise the impact of a financial settlement.


Can a working wife get alimony maintenance?

The question of whether you are entitled to maintenance will very much depend on your global needs and on a needs basis. Even if you are working, it does not necessary preclude you from claiming maintenance if the amount that you earn either on a full time or part time basis does not match the income of your partner and that without financial assistance from him or her you cannot live independently. The courts will therefore look at both parties’ income and your global needs for yourself and the children of the family and assess whether the shortfall can reasonably be met by you. If it cannot, then the court will consider granting maintenance to you. The length and period and the amount of your maintenance will depend on the circumstances of your case but it is unlikely given the current law, that you will have maintenance other than for a short term. Term maintenance orders are now preferable since the meal ticket for life or maintenance for life has now all but disappeared.


Can I withdraw money before divorce?

It is very inadvisable for you to start withdrawing sums of money immediately prior to a divorce. The court will consider this to be a deliberate act to defeat your spouses claims and will consider that the money that you have taken should form part of your assets in any event. If sums are being withdrawn in order to meet legal fees, this can be acceptable provided that you are not withdrawing all of your marital assets into your account only. Taking monies and not disclosing them in divorce proceedings is a very serious matter and the courts have often caught out spouses who haven the view that they can transfer monies to a third party or withdraw sums without explanation. The court will in due course demand an explanation of where those monies have gone and the purpose for them. If they are for legitimate repayment of debts due to third parties under loan agreements, then there is a possibility that this might be allowed. However this is a risky strategy. To learn more, read our article titled; Hiding Money During A Divorce.


Does it matter who files for divorce?

It really does not matter who instigates the divorce proceedings and who is the petitioner and who is the respondent. However, from research that has been undertaken, many women do not like being the recipient of a petition based on adultery or behaviour etc and psychologically it will set the proceedings off on the wrong track for a man to petition a woman unless he really feels that he must do so. Who is the petitioner or the respondent is something that can be discussed between the parties directly or the with the assistance of a mediator. Sometimes people feel that advantage is taken if they petition first, it is almost like the war has begun by one of the parties and they feel that this gives them some power in the proceedings. The reality is that the court could not care less who is the petitioner and who is the respondent provided there is no financial impact of the conduct being complained about.

When acting for husbands we often will encourage them to allow their wife to serve a draft petition so that they can water down the allegations of unreasonable behaviour so that it is quite anodyne and won’t have any impact. Many people worry that members of the public could see what is the divorce petition and that forever this will give the party petitioning an advantage. These are not for public consumption.


How long does a man have to pay alimony maintenance?

The length of time for which periodical payments or maintenance is paid by a man to his wife will vary on the circumstances of the case. What will be relevant is the amount of assets each party has and their earning capacity.

It used to be the case that if there was a long marriage that maintenance would be payable until further order which would rank as lifetime maintenance. The law has now gone into reverse following recent judgements in the High Court and as a consequence maintenance is usually now paid for a set period of time known as “term maintenance”. The amount of time will of course depend on the circumstances but as a general rule the man will have to pay maintenance either for a five-year period or a ten-year period, or fifteen-year period or such period until the children cease fulltime education.

This will allow the wife to stand on her own two feet, retrain and to work towards what is known as a “clean break” provision. However, if the wife can demonstrate that at no period in the future, because of her age and the length of marriage, that she can ever independently support herself, then maintenance may continue for life. The younger the parties are and the shorter the marriage, it is more likely that a very short-term maintenance will be imposed or agreed.


Does a man have to pay alimony maintenance if he remarries?

A man who has an order to pay maintenance to his wife for a set period or for life, cannot avoid payment of maintenance simply because he remarries. If he goes on to have other children, and can no longer afford to pay the maintenance payments because of the change of circumstances, then it might be open to him to apply to the court for a reduction in the amount of maintenance payable as a consequence. If however his income has increased since the date of the order or is new wife has own independent income, then it is unlikely that the maintenance will stop. If for example by remarrying, the husband purchases a large home with a large mortgage, the courts will be disinterested that he has placed himself in a position to frustrate the current order. Orders of the court must be followed unless there is a genuine reason that precludes the husband from paying.


Can you empty bank account before divorce?

It is very inadvisable to empty a bank account before divorce because it would be considered as litigation misconduct devised to frustrate your spouses claims. If on the other hand there are ongoing obligations which cause the bank accounts to empty and that it would have done so in the normal course because there is just insufficient money to keep it going, then that would be acceptable. If however one party decides that they want to empty out the bank account and either give the monies to third parties or place into their own accounts, this action will be frowned upon. It may well be open to the other party to make an application to the court for the monies to be returned, particularly if it frustrates them paying their normal bills or having funds available to pay for their own divorce lawyer. Always act with caution before taking pre-emptive strikes such as this because they will always backfire unless there is a genuine reason for so doing.


How are finances divided in a divorce?

There is much case law regarding how the courts will divide the assets and finances on divorce. The courts will firstly take into account the needs of the parties and what assets are available to meet those. The first place they will look is to provide housing sufficient for both parties and if the husband is having equal or shared care of the children, his needs for accommodation will be the same as his spouse. The Courts will look to whether the parties can meet their reasonable needs by way of a schedule of outgoings. If they cannot, the spouse with the greater income may have to provide some maintenance over a period of time to the other in order that their needs can be properly met, particularly if children are involved.

The court will look to whether pensions should be divided between the parties, and if so how? Or whether they should be set off so that one party keeps the pensions and the other has more of the upfront assets.

The whole issue of the division of assets in divorce is a complex one. The starting point for division of capital assets is a 50:50 split but this will change depending on the length of the marriage and the asses available. The income will not automatically be divided 50:50 and will be dependent on the parties reasonable needs.


Can you settle financially before divorce?

It is ill advisable to finally settle matters before the divorce process and the decree nisi has been granted. If a financial agreement is reached, and enforced by the parties before the decree nisi, then one or other of the parties could change their minds. It is absolutely vital that if you wish to rely on the agreement reached, that it should be considered to be Xydhias bound ie that both parties agree that they will be bound by it, whatever the circumstances and to draw up a consent order in readiness to submit to the Court upon decree nisi. An absolute warning to be given is do not pay out any monies until that agreement has been stamped and approved by the Court.


Will a divorce affect my credit?

Divorce proceedings will not affect your credit report or credit scores directly. However financial issues that are the subject matter of divorce can often involve joint credit accounts which can affect your credit history and credit scores if one of you has given rise to excessive debt. Joint accounts can also affect your credit history particularly if they go into overdraft. It is therefore wise to ensure that your credit cards and bank accounts are separated at the earliest possible time to avoid any difficulties in this regard. However it should be noted that if there are debts that have arisen at a certain address, that it may effect you even though you have not given rise to those debts. It is essential on divorce that you do ensure that you know all of the outstanding debts and that these are taken into account in the divorce and indemnities provided so that you do not end up having to be responsible for the debts of your spouse.


What will my divorce lawyer ask me?

The questions are normally asked by a divorce lawyer will surround the following items: –

(a) How long have you been married?

(b) What assets were brought into the marriage?

(c) How were your finances conducted?

(d) Your lifestyle and whether they have been any recent changes.

They would wish to know a brief history of your marriage in order to advise you as to the suitable divorce proceedings.

As to finances, they would wish to collate with you all of the financial information which if this can be provided beforehand, or at the first meeting, would be most helpful. They will need to know any capital assets, houses, bank accounts, building society accounts, savings, pensions, insurance policies, endowment policies etc.

If you can give an idea of what your financial position is, your earnings and those of your spouse it will be helpful for them to give you general parameters of a settlement. However, do not be too enthusiastic that you will come away from your first meeting with the exact figures for a financial settlement since there will have to be full and proper disclosure on both sides with your case being set out in financial disclosure documents known as Form E for them to give you a proper overall idea of the settlement.


Questions to ask a divorce lawyer in the first meeting?

  1. As a first meeting with your lawyer it is imperative that you gain assistance as to what ground for divorce you may have or fact upon which you wish to proceed. 
  2. The way in which financial settlements work and a strategic decision by the lawyer as to which of the options available to you should be followed ie should it be mediation, arbitration, voluntary disclosure, court process or collaborative law.
  3. You should ask your lawyer whether you should put together a full history of your marriage both in terms of behaviour and in terms of the financial aspects to give them a full picture before any of the forms are completed. 
  4. In relation to children, you should ask what is the general pattern of contact that will be imposed by a court or recommended by the lawyer.

There are many more questions that can be asked but if you make a note of all the matters that you are particularly concerned about these should be gone through one by one with your lawyer. To see a full list of questions to ask your divorce lawyer, see here. 


Can you change the locks on a jointly owned house?

We are often asked whether upon one of the spouses leaving the home whether the remaining spouse can change the locks on a jointly owned home. The strict answer to this is that it is not permitted. As they remain a joint owner of the property, they are entitled to gain access. However, if they have been gone for a few weeks, you could write to them through their lawyer, indicating that as you are now alone in the home, that you wish to put an additional lock on the door and explain that this is for your own safety. If they insist upon a key being given, then you may have to supply this. However, if there has been a past history of threats or violence, you would not provide this key and would write asking for their undertaking not to return as they have permanently moved from the home. You must also consider injunctive relief if you are frightened that they will return unannounced.


How does spousal maintenance work?

spousal maintenance is periodical payments that are paid by a spouse to their former spouse following divorce or as interim measure. It is different to child maintenance. It is usually paid on a monthly basis and continues for a term period ie a number of years or for the rest of the parties life. This is known as a “joint lives order”. Spousal maintenance ceases if the recipient remarries or either party dies. It can be varied or dismissed by the courts if there is a change of circumstances.

There is no formula for the calculation of spousal maintenance as there is for the calculation of child maintenance. The court will have regard to the overall and specific circumstances of the case when deciding how much should be paid and the length of time over which it should be paid. To decide the level of maintenance decisions have to be made about the parties day to day financial commitments including child maintenance obligations and how they can be met from the resources available to the parties. The amount of maintenance will vary from case to case and specialist advice is needed.

Maintenance can be ordered for a short period ie 2 to 5 years to enable somebody to move towards independence or for re-training or entering into the work place. This is known as a term order or term maintenance. Sometimes these orders have a bar on them to prevent any extensions. Other times they do not.

Where someone has been out of work for many years the court may consider ordering maintenance on a life long basis this is however unusual. Maintenance ends of the parties becoming entitled to draw from their pensions.

A nominal order for maintenance can be made where the parties have sufficient income to meet their needs but it might be needed in the future if the wife for example falls ill or is unable to work in the future. If these circumstances arise, a variation can be sought.

Spousal maintenance can be varied up or down at any time depending on any change of circumstances or capitalised if one of the parties is able to do so.


How is spousal Maintenance Calculated & What is spousal support based on?

There is no specific formula for the calculation of spousal maintenance which is hard to calculate as an overall provision. Settlements take into account a number of factors such as the standard that the parties lived at during the marriage. The age of the parties, the ability to become self sufficient and re-train, respective needs and the division of capital. There is a wide discretion of the court to impose a very fair outcome.

Income needs may be similar in the immediate aftermath of separation once child costs are taken into account. They are some calculators that are on the internet to work out spousal maintenance but these are to be very carefully considered as they may not take into account all of the circumstances.


How Does Child Maintenance Work?

The amount of child maintenance that an absent spouse should pay depends on the child support law. As a rule of thumb, on the basic rates if you are paying for one child you will 12% of your gross weekly income. For children you will pay 16% of your gross weekly income, for three or more children you will pay 19% of your gross weekly income. The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) if you cannot agree child maintenance will calculate child maintenance on several factors. They will take into account how many children you have, the income of the paying parent, how much time they spend with the paying parent and whether the paying parent is paying child maintenance for other children.


When Does Child Maintenance Stop?

Child maintenance is normally expected to be paid until the child is 16 or until they are 20 if they are in school or college full time training undertaking A’levels, higher education or the equivalent. Child maintenance may stop earlier for example if one parent dies or the child stops being eligible for child benefit. There are several rates of child maintenance according to the paying parents gross weekly income which means how much you receive before items like tax and national insurance are deducted. It is recommended that you go on to the Money Advice Service which contains child maintenance amounts based on a weekly pay which is very useful or the child support calculator provided by the Government.


What Does Child Maintenance Cover?

Child support is meant to cover housing, food and clothing but the costs of raising a child will often involve more than just these basic needs. The non-custodial parent contributes towards these expenses by making a cash payment to the custodial payment. Child support does not cover extra-curricular expenses including school photos, year books, registration, uniforms, equipment and sports registration fees.


What happens in a divorce when the woman makes more money than the man?

In a divorce if a woman earns the same or more than her husband she will not be eligible for spousal support. If the woman earns significantly more than her husband who is unable to meet his needs, then the court will in certain circumstances order the wife to pay spousal maintenance to the husband. Given that there are man women that are highflyers and home husbands than ever before, the courts are now frequently making orders for spousal maintenance in favour of husbands.


Do I pay child support if my wife makes more money?

Child support is based on the absent parent and therefore regardless of what money is made by the non-absent parent, child support will still be payable. It is based on the absent parent weekly gross income and therefore what is earned by the spouse will not be taken into account. It should be noted that if the paying parent’s gross weekly income is between £200 – £3,000 and they pay child maintenance for other children, this is taken into account when working out how much they pay.

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