New book explodes 101 myths about divorceMany people are basing life-changing decisions about their marriage and family life on common myths and misunderstandings, a leading family lawyer has warned.
“She always gets the kids”, “I am his commonlaw wife” and “The wife gets half of everything” are among the most frequently used generalisations about divorce according to family law specialist Woolley & Co, and are leaving thousands of people each year out of pocket and on the back foot in separation proceedings.
In a bid to explode some of the inaccuracies, the Warwickshire-based firm has published a free guidebook – Exploring the Myths about Divorce and Separation – pulling together 101 divorce myths and explaining how some commonly held beliefs can be a long way from the truth.
“Everybody knows someone who has been through a divorce or messy separation and is happy to give the benefit of their experience. However, these little stories get twisted with retelling so the facts get skewed. The reality is that each divorce is unique so cannot be exactly compared to another experience,” said Andrew Woolley, managing partner of Woolley & Co.
“We hear these little myths day in, day out. People have preconceived ideas on what they are entitled to or how a divorce will work based on what someone has told them. They are often quite bewildered when we explain that they are a long way from the truth.
“From this came the idea to pull together the most common 101 myths about divorce and separation and put them into a handy-sized reference book. Exploring the myths about divorce and separation is no substitute for legal advice, but it does lay out the truth so people can make informed decisions before taking any action.”
One of the most retold myths is that a couple are commonlaw man and wife if they live together for a certain amount of time – often quoted as six months – so they automatically gain similar rights to married couples. This is completely untrue. An unmarried couple would need to get specific legal documents drawn up if they did not intend to marry but wanted the same claims over each others’ possessions or property as a married couple, for instance.
Another is that the mother automatically gets ‘custody’. The reality is that each case is judged individually with the outcome dependent on what is best for the child – which might be to live with the dad, or more commonly now share time between both parents. There is no such thing as custody now in English law. Instead the courts consider residence and contact.
The book is being launched alongside a new website – www.divorcemyths.co.uk – which allows visitors to check out myths for themselves and encourages them to ask whether something they have been told is a myth or a fact. The idea is that the content on the website will grow from the 101 myths in the book, creating an invaluable online resource.
Copies of the free book can be requested by calling 0800 321 3832.