It’s a sad fact of life that the average length of a marriage in 21st century Britain is just eight years.
Any relationship break up is going to be difficult but there are some aspects that need not be as hard as you may think.
Quick Move Now spoke to Magnus Mill, a family law specialist at Rubric, who said that taking a few simple steps at the start of a relationship can help make any separation easier in the end.
Although nobody likes to think about it at the time, what you do at the beginning of a relationship can make it a lot easier if that relationship comes to an end.
Although commonplace on the continent, pre-nuptial agreements are still a relatively new concept to many engaged couples in Britain, but Magnus is a keen advocate.
I have found that people going into second marriages are much more likely to have a pre-nuptial agreement,” he says. “I think they realise the importance of them having been through a divorce already. It makes so much sense and they are pretty much legally binding now.
Divorce is a subject that is hard to generalise as the outcome at the end of a marriage will be very specific to that particular relationship and the particular couple and it is very much at the judge’s discretion.
But Magnus says that couples who were in a long term marriage – usually more than nine or ten years – should always work on the basis that they own half of everything.
That doesn’t mean that the family home must be sold. Sometimes there are other assets that will equate to the price of the house, for example ISAs or other investment properties, which could be given to one partner, while the other keeps the family home.
If the disparity between the values is too great, but there are dependent children involved, some couples may have an agreement that one person stays in the home until the youngest child is 18. At that point the home is sold and both people get half, or one person may now be in a position to buy out the other.
He also says that the time of year a break up occurs may have an impact on the speed with which a couple’s assets are divided up.
Assets transfer are tax free when you are married and within the tax year of separation. After that it becomes potentially more complex.
It is not just the large assets, such as houses, that can cause the biggest upsets for couples separating either though; dividing the contents of the home can be just as difficult.
Sometimes people get most upset over dividing the contents of the home and cannot agree on who takes what. What can help that process, and give it some finality, is to make a list of everything you cannot agree on and just take it in turns going through the list and picking what you would like.
Usually the things have little financial value, but are very precious to the couple.
For anyone divorcing after a short marriage the outcome will be very dependent on a number of facts, including whether there are children involved, the length of the union and the cost of any assets.
Magnus says that a question that he is asked time and time again is ‘can my other half kick me out of the family home?’
The short answer is no!
To actually get divorced, is quite easy in the internet age that we live in. But sticking to the small print and making it stick, is what can be harder. It doesn’t have to be expensive to see a lawyer to sort out the financial agreement.
Most of the people I work with are not in a bitter dispute, but just want to ensure they have agreed everything properly. If a couple can reach an agreement themselves then it makes the break up a lot easier.
He also pointed out the misconception of ‘common law marriage’, which no longer exists.
Non-married couples are treated the same as if two friends had bought a home together. So it is important to consider a cohabitation agreement if you do not plan to marry.
A divorce will be a hard enough time for all parties to endure, but by taking the advice of our law specialist you could make it is just that little bit easier to bear.