Nine Common Misconceptions About Family Law
Updated: Jul 1
recently talked about her work as a Family Mediator and Solicitor at LSL Family Law and highlighted some misconceptions about divorce that helped us all understand what's behind an all too common and traumatic experience for our family and friends.
1. Divorce lawyers always favour divorce
Tanya always starts with whether a divorce, dissolution or separation is right for a client, rather than assuming that it's inevitable. Indeed, Tanya often feels that if she had an earlier discussion, maybe the relationship would not have needed to end. Tanya’s approach is always to take care not to cause a relationship any further avoidable damage.
2. There Are No Alternatives To Court
Court isn’t the only option. A skilled advisor will offer options such as:
⇨ Collaborative Law
⇨ Engaging conciliatory advisors
⇨ Mediation, hybrid mediation
⇨ Child-Inclusive Mediation
These can be blended to a family's needs including making space for a couple to have hard conversations in a safe managed environment. That helps them make their own decisions rather than feeling it's all happening to them.
3. The DIY Divorce
Doesn’t a decree absolute mean my ex has no claims against me? Not necessarily; see the 20-year delay of Vince v Wyatt. Tanya has seen cases where the parties divorced but did not finalise their finances at the time, leading to avoidable/costly litigation years later.
4. Family Lawyers Are Just In It For The Money
Family lawyers have spent 20 years fighting for no-fault divorce and it became law in April 2022. So now the only reason required for divorce is that the marriage has broken down. This allows couples freedom to focus on how to move forward.
5. The Common Law Marriage
Common law marriage exists in Scotland and Canada…But not in England & Wales. And the law treats people who separate, if unmarried, very differently from a couple who are married.
6. Assets Are Always Divided Equally
There is an overriding objective of fairness, but fairness doesn’t always mean equality.
7. I’m Getting A Lump Sum, So I Don’t Need To Claim On My Ex’s Pension
The value of a long-term pension income can often exceed the value of even a large lump sum and needs careful comparison.
8. Mums Always Get The Kids The family court favours mothers? Although traditionally mothers were the main carers that is now less and less the case. Shared care doesn’t have to mean equal sharing, and in practice can involve any proportion. The court aims to value the contribution and role of the parent with less time just as highly as the parent with more time. Ultimately it is about what is best for the children right now.
9. Maintenance Is A Meal Ticket For Life
Long gone is the idea that maintenance payments will last forever. The courts expect both parties to be as financially independent as possible, especially as any children get older