Naomi Devlin, Specialist Family Solicitor, debunks some widespread myths surrounding Divorce and relationship breakdown
Dismissing the Myths Surrounding Divorce and Relationship Breakdowns
Naomi Devlin, a specialist Family Solicitor here a Worthingtons Solicitors, debunks some of the widespread myths surrounding divorce and relationship breakdown here in Northern Ireland.
In this jurisdiction, this is not yet the case. in October 2015, plans were announced by the Northern Ireland Assembly to consider whether an online system could be put in place to allow those wishing to divorce, similar to the system used in The Netherlands and Canada. it remains to be seen how this would work in practice, particularly in complex cases. The traditional system in Northern Ireland remains at present, where proceedings are issued in paper format and the petitioning party is required to attend court to give evidence for the Decree Nisi to be granted.
This is a misconception that can cause great surprise to the ‘wronged’ party. Only in rare cases will the conduct of one of the parties be sufficient for the court to that party in the financial settlement i.e. where it would be unfair to the other party to disregard it. This is only likely to be a factor in extreme cases, such as serious financial misconduct, or where one party has caused serious to the other, leaving them unable to work, for example. In general, where a husband or wife’s behaviour has caused the marriage to end, it is unlikely that that behaviour will be sufficient to impact upon how the assets are divided.
There is no formal requirement for a separating couple to record their separation by way of a court order. The date of separation is usually the date one or both parties leave the matrimonial home, or if neither party can move out, it can in certain circumstances be evidenced by the parties leading entirely separate lives within the same household. This needs to be evidenced by more than just sleeping in separate rooms; in addition to that, evidence of the parties socialising, eating meals, cooking and doing chores separately will also be required. When people refer to a ‘legal separation’ what they are normally referring to is a ‘Matrimonial Agreement’ or ‘Separation Agreement’, which is a legal process whereby the parties enter into discussions and an exchange of information with a view to signing up to an agreement which aims to sever all outstanding financial ties between the couple before a divorce is granted.
It is unusual for one party to be awarded the entirety of the assets in a case. Each case is dealt with in a fact-specific way, with the ultimate objective to obtain fairness for both parties in all circumstances of the case; it would therefore be unusual for one party to be left with nothing, however one of the overriding factors will be ensuring that the financial needs of the parties are considered in particular with reference to the best interests of the children, which could in theory lead to a primary carer securing more of the financial resources than the other parent if their financial needs require it.
whilst the parties remain married, entering into a sexual relationship with another person may still be cited as adultery, even after separation.
This is not the case here in Northern Ireland; even where there has been a very lengthy separation, you will not ‘automatically’ become divorced. One of the parties in the marriage is required to make an application to the court for the divorce process to take place and for the marriage to be formally dissolved.
This is not always the case. In dealing with cases relating to children, the court’s main consideration is always the children’s welfare and any decision that the court makes will be based on what it believes to be in the children’s best interests. It is therefore not the case that children will always end up living with their mother; instead the court will consider all the factors in deciding with whom the children should live and how much they should see their other parent.
At Worthintons Solicitors, we specialise in all matters pertaining to the breakdown of a relationship. Please do not hesitate to contact any member on [email protected] to discuss any queries you may have or telephone the office on 028 91811538 to talk to us in confidence.
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