Five most common misconceptions about divorce

Date: 20 Jul 2011


Couples considering divorce often have a number of misconceptions about the legal process and financial settlement. Caroline Bourn, solicitor at Buss Murton Law LLP, Tunbridge Wells highlights the five most commonly mentioned by clients to help people keep a sense of perspective on the proceedings.

1. To allow a divorce to go ahead, the Respondent need only sign the Divorce Petition

No, when the court sends the Divorce Petition to the Respondent they will also send a blank form called an acknowledgment of service form which should be filled in and returned to the Court within seven days. This form asks specific questions to which the court need answers to be able to grant the divorce – simply signing the petition is not enough.

2. The Decree Nisi brings your marriage to an end

As reported in the press recently, Liz Hurley’s marriage “ended” in divorce when the Judge pronounced their Decree Nisi. This is not the case, marriage does not end on Decree Nisi, they end on Decree Absolute. The earliest possible date you can apply for Decree Absolute, if you are the Petitioner, is 6 weeks and a day after Decree Nisi. If you are a Respondent it is a further three months after the Petitioner could first apply and even then there may be a hearing before a Judge. However, often neither party will apply for Decree Absolute, unless there is an agreement about the finances and that has been known to take years in some cases.

3.You can get a quickie divorce like lots of celebrities seem to do

Not even the celebrities get quickie divorces, they have to use the same system as the rest of us. Normally, if things go very smoothly, it will take around 6-8 weeks from the date the petition is issued by the Court to the date of Decree Nisi and as it will be a minimum of 6 weeks and a day from Decree Nisi before you can apply for Decree Absolute, and even then it may not be in your best interests to be divorced, as you may no longer benefit from death in service and pension benefits and even any inheritance from your ex.

4.Your soon-to-be ex can put the family home up for sale without your agreement

Kevin Webster from Coronation Street managed to put the family home up for sale, despite his wife Sally making it clear she did not agree. In the real world, any estate agent worth his salt would ensure that all the owners of the property agreed to put the property on the market for sale before marketing the property.vAll the legal owners have to sign a contract and a Transfer document and, without these, a sale can never go through. One person can never force another person to sell a property unless there is a court order which states the property must be sold. Obtaining a Court order is an expensive and often time consuming process, and would not be granted without a hearing before a Judge.

5.When divorced, your ex can’t make a claim on your money

If you divorce without sorting out a financial agreement then it does not matter how long ago you divorced, either you or your ex can apply to the court to make a claim. The only bar on this would be that a person who has remarried could not make a claim on an ex, but if you have remarried, and your ex has not, then your ex can still make a claim on you. All your assets and, to a certain extent, those of your new spouse would have to be disclosed to a court and would be considered in any court proceedings.The only way to avoid this is to have an agreement drawn up which is then approved by a Judge. This document is called a Consent Order and it will contain an agreement that once approved by a Judge is binding upon you and your ex. If after the divorce you inherit or win the lottery (remember Nigel Page who paid ¬£2million of his Euromillions lottery win to his ex of 10 years last year), then you are safe in the knowledge that your ex can’t make a claim on your money. Once a Court have approved a Consent Order, neither party can come back to make a claim on assets, properties or pensions, although if the Consent Order states that maintenance will be paid then the door is left open, so that if circumstances change then the maintenance can be varied.

About Buss Murton Law LLP

Buss Murton Law LLP is one of the leading law firms in the South East of England, providing legal services to personal and corporate clients. The firm is headquartered in Tunbridge Wells with offices in Cranbrook and Dartford and has a total of 53 staff. It is known for corporate, private client, family, dispute resolution, employment, residential and commercial property work.

back to news