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Five Myths about Divorce Dispelled!

18th August, 2014

1. The wife always divorces the husband

Oh no, I can’t bust this myth! The Office for National Statistics indicates that 65% of divorces are granted to women. In 2001 it was even higher at 69% and in 1990 a whopping 72%. But why? Is it that men have more affairs? No the statistics show that in terms of adultery the stakes are about equal.

2. Children always stay with their mum

Certainly not, although historically where couples have had a more traditional relationship, it may have been the case that the wife/mother was better placed to meet the day to day care of the children. New changes in the law, which came into effect in April of this year, mean that there are no longer Residence and Contact Orders instead, orders setting out the arrangements about where children will live and/or who they will spend their time with are called Child Arrangement Orders. Times are changing and these orders should reflect the truth of the situation, and if that is that the children live with both parents but at different times then that is what the Order will say. In actual fact, unless there is a real issue that the parents can’t agree on, the Court has a “hands off” approach to the children and will expect parents to come to an agreement between themselves.

3. The house has to be sold

Very often when parties divorce there is a need to downsize, usually because the income that once met both their needs in the same house with one set of bills now has to meet the needs of two separate households. But in cases where there is enough in the matrimonial pot for both parties’ needs to be met in suitable accommodation, or the needs of the children merit it, then the family home can very often be retained. In the latter case there is often a provision in the Order that when the children reach the age of 18 or finish full time education the house is sold so that the parent not living in it can have their share.

4. The CSA will deal with child maintenance.

Firstly the CSA no longer deals with new cases. In fact it is no longer called the CSA! The relevant organisation is now known as the Child Maintenance Agency (“CMA”) and as of later this year, if you want the Agency to collect maintenance on your behalf there will be a fee to pay! The standard amount of maintenance, usually based on the number of nights the child stays with the absent parent, can still be found on the CMA online calculator, which can be useful, but if you want the Agency to deal with collecting the money then there will be a deduction from the money you will receive of 4%. The person paying the money will have to pay an additional 20%. The message (loud and clear) is reach an agreement with regard to child maintenance at the same time as dealing with the other aspects of a financial settlement and leave the CMA out of it.

5. Pensions will be split 50% / 50%

A good starting point is to look at the pension pots that have accrued during the marriage and look to achieve equality of those pots on divorce. But what is the value of the pot? If the pension is not in payment it is the Current Equivalent Transfer Value (“CETV”) or if in payment the Current Equivalent Benefit Value (“CEBV”). It can take up to 3 months for a pension organisation to produce the figure and so it is vital, even if you intend to agree finances between the two of you, to request the figure as soon as possible. But a 50% / 50% share of the pot will not necessarily result in a 50% / 50% share of pension income on retirement. If a spouse cannot take a share in a Final Salary scheme but instead has to take some money out of the pot to buy an annuity then very often more than 50% is required to achieve equality of income. Pensions are complicated and with a big pot very often advice needs to be sought from an expert as to how best to share it. What is important, however, is that they are not forgotten about as they are often a valuable asset and necessary as we get older.

So four out of five myths busted.

If you would like any more advice on family matters please contact Sandy Edwards on 01743 453689 or email [email protected]

Sandy is an experienced Matrimonial Solicitor advising on all aspects of divorce, finances and children issues arising out of a relationship breakdown. Sandy is a member of the Law Society’s Advanced Family Law Panel and is also collaboratively trained.

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