With ongoing COVID restrictions in place, January 2022 is unlikely to be the fresh start many wanted. The month of January historically has been an extremely busy one for family lawyers, with many couples making the decision to part ways shortly after the busy (and often stressful) holiday season.
The last 2 years in the family law sphere have perhaps been the busiest to date. There has been a sharp spike in divorce enquiries which are heavily linked with the stresses of COVID and the accompanying lockdowns.
It is expected that divorce rates will remain high in 2022, especially with the introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorces in April. This change has already received large amounts of media attention, which is likely to continue in the coming months, pushing the topic of divorce to the forefront of public minds. It is also likely that the removal of the need for one party to point the finger at the other in the early stages of divorce will give those who are contemplating separation a slight nudge over the line.
Making the difficult decision to separate can be an extremely worrying and uncertain period of one’s life. Every relationship is different, and this decision should never be made rashly. Below are some of the most common issues raised with us at a first meeting.
How will the family assets be divided?
Typically, all assets held in the joint and sole names of a husband and wife will be considered matrimonial assets which are available to be shared between the parties. These assets typically include the family home, savings, pensions, investments and personal belongings. The starting point when dividing these assets is equality. The court will then assess whether an equal division would be fair when other factors are considered, to include the length of marriage, when the assets were acquired, whether there are any children together with the income, earning capacity, ages and needs of the parties. Once these factors have been considered it is possible in certain circumstances for there to be an unequal division of assets between parties.
How will I support myself after a divorce?
Depending on the circumstances, a wife or husband may be able to apply for maintenance payments from their spouse (spousal maintenance). When assessing whether spousal maintenance should be paid, and if so, how much, the court will assess the income and outgoings of both parties. If one party is unable to meet their reasonable outgoings that their spouse could afford to meet either in full or part, a court could make an order accordingly.
How will I afford to support our children?
A parent who does not live with their child or children (non-resident parent) has an obligation to pay child maintenance to the parent with whom the children live. The parents can agree the level of child maintenance paid, or either parent make an application to the child maintenance service (CMS) for them to calculate what should be paid based on a number of factors. These factors include the gross income of the non-resident parent, how many children there are and how many nights per year the children stay overnight with the non-resident parent.
To talk to one of our family law advisers, please call us on 01689 887887.