A divorce is often said to be one of the most stressful life events, and while certain myths surround the legal process, a leading Yorkshire family lawyer is advising people to get the real facts.

Nicki Mitchell, Partner at Lupton Fawcett LLP in York, specialises in mediation and collaborative family law and is keen to bust the misconceptions surrounding divorce and family law.

Nicki said: “Myths such as ‘quickie divorce’, ‘common law wife’ and ‘finances split 50/50’ are often considered to be fact but are widely misunderstood.

“Story lines in films and television shows and celebrity divorces often misrepresent the divorce process and perpetuate the myths, which can lead to unnecessary stress for everyone.”

Nicki has put together the top five divorce myths:

Common law wife has a legal status

No matter how long a couple has lived together, if they are unmarried, they do not have the same rights as a married couple and have little legal protection.

Fast Track Divorce in 12 weeks

There is no such thing as a ‘quickie divorce’. The average time for the paperwork to be completed is around five months but can be much longer.

Splitting finances 50/50

While this may be the starting point, numerous factors are taken into account when dividing assets so as to reach a settlement which is fair and meets needs, first consideration being given to the needs of any children.

There’s no such thing as an amicable divorce

While divorce is a difficult process for all concerned, it need not be acrimonious. There are ways to keep the process constructive and to minimise the stress it can cause, including mediation or collaborative practice.

We can divorce due to ‘irreconcilable differences’

There is only one ground for divorce, which is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In addition, one of five “facts” must be set out in the petition. The most common reasons for divorce are adultery or unreasonable behaviour. If neither of these apply, couples are required to separate for at least two years, and both agree to a divorce or five years if they do not agree.

Nicki added: “Separation can be a highly emotional and traumatic time in a person’s life. So, it is critical to seek advice from a specialist family lawyer to ensure you understand your rights and can make an informed choice about the best way to get to where you and your family need to be.”

If you would like to speak to a member of the team regarding any of the issues raised in this article, or any other family law matter please feel free to contact: Chris Burns, who is the head of our family law department; Sophie Arrowsmith a member of our team in the Leeds office Richard Buckley who is a member of the team in the Sheffield office or Andrew Smith who is a member of our York office.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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