Family Law Myths

18 April 2024

Common law marriages

The existence of “common law marriages” is a common misconception in England and Wales. The idea is that partners who live together for a certain amount of time, who may or may not have children, will be entitled to some of the same benefits and rights as married or civil partners. This is not the case, however, and common law marriages are merely a myth. In England and Wales, couples who live together (cohabit) but are not married or in a civil partnership, do not have the same rights or obligations as married or civil partners, regardless of whether they have children or the duration of time they have cohabited. As a consequence, any rights to children, finances and joint property are less certain than those of their married counterparts, should there be a separation.

Once divorce complete, your partner no longer has any claim to your assets

There are three main pillars in a divorce, made up of the divorce itself, the finances, and the child arrangements. These three pillars are each dealt with separately. The divorce itself, therefore, refers to the legal sever of the marriage. It is a misconception that once the marriage has legally ended, so do the financial matters. Unless you have a Consent Order drafted and approved by Court (more information on these HERE), then financial claims may remain open, resulting in one partner having the possibility of making a claim long after the legal divorce is finalised.

Prenuptial Agreements are not recognised in England and Wales

There is often confusion surrounding the recognition of prenuptial agreements (“prenups”) in England and Wales. At present, prenups are recognised in Courts but are not legally binding. The weight a prenup holds in Court will depend on the individual circumstances of the case, with the documents’ fairness at time of application being of significance. For that reason, they cannot be legally binding, despite still holding weight in court.

Read out detailed blog on prenuptial agreements HERE.

You get a better financial settlement on divorce if partner cheated

In April 2022, the UK replaced the divorce process with the new “no fault divorce”. With the old system, a divorcing applicant had to prove that the marriage had irretrievably broken down, often lending to blame being placed on the responding party. With the new process, however, there is no requirement to prove the marriage has irretrievably broken down or justify the reasons for divorce, therefore negating any need for blame. Furthermore, the reason for divorce is unlikely to be relevant to the proceedings and any subsequent financial settlements.

Read more about No Fault Divorces HERE

Surrogacy not option for couples wanting children in UK

Surrogacy has been increasing in popularity as a way for couples to start a family. While fundamentally legal, there is a misconception that it is a criminal offence to pay a surrogate. While it is not illegal to pay a surrogate, it is illegal to pay a third party to negotiate a surrogacy arrangement for you. Therefore, any surrogacy arrangement should be negotiated directly between surrogate and the intended parents.  It is vital to note that there are several important factors to take into consideration before embarking as either a surrogate or intended parent. These include parental responsibility, as the surrogate mother will be the legal mother of the child at the time of birth (even without any genetic connection), and any jurisdiction and immigration implications should the surrogacy be international.

Read more about surrogacy in the UK HERE

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