As a family law solicitor for almost 30 years the most common question I am asked when I first speak to a client is “Will I lose my family home?” Clearly this is one of the most pressing concerns for people when it comes to separation and divorce and that is understandable. The family home is a treasured possession. Often the family have lived there for years, the children have grown up there and it’s a comfortable and familiar environment.
Divorcing couples often find reaching a financial settlement the most challenging part of the divorce process. And sometimes this is because they really don’t know where to start. Well-meaning advice from friends, misconceptions from the media and personal beliefs of what is ‘right’ and ‘fair’ can get in the way of finalising a financial agreement.
One without lawyers I hear you say. At first thought you may be right, but let's have a look at that statement in closer detail. What is a good divorce and is one achievable? How can you dance with your ex at your daughter's wedding and even be there together at the top table?
From the minute the referendum result was in, the language of Brexit has borrowed heavily from divorce. The EU Commissioner Jean Claude Juncker said very early on that Britain’s split from Europe “would not be an amicable divorce”. He went on, though, to say that the relationship had been having troubles for some time, suggesting “it was not exactly a tight affair anyway”.
As a family lawyer for over ten years I have frequently been asked by clients whether they can have an annulment, rather than a divorce. It seems like a simple question, but in order to answer their question I need to get into some legal niceties.