10 things you might not know about divorce

11 April 2018

When going through a divorce, it can be difficult to navigate the complex legal and financial procedures surrounding it. Jacqueline Fitzgerald, Partner at Wilsons, highlights ten things that you might not know about divorce.

  1. It is possible to make an application to court for information about a former spouse’s new partner’s financial circumstances. This is to ascertain whether they are concealing assets through the new partner, that you could potentially claim on.
  2. Even if an individual is certain their spouse has offshore or hidden accounts which they can claim on during a divorce, if proof is found by going through a spouse’s private papers without permission, it cannot be relied upon in court.
  3. It is possible to get a gagging order to stop a spouse divulging information about divorce proceedings. Any private information, including anything to do with business affairs or private life, can be protected from the public.
  4. Even if the home is solely in one spouse’s name, the non-owning spouse has right of occupation. An injunction can be secured from the courts to get the homeowning spouse removed from the matrimonial home - even if it is in their name - if the court is convinced there is good cause.
  5. In the case of the breakdown of a second marriage, if an individual’s second spouse lives with them and their children from their first marriage, it is possible to make financial claims against the second spouse to provide for those children.
  6. It is possible to get a ‘Costs Order’ against the Ministry of Justice for lawyers’ time if they are forced to wait at local divorce centres for a judge. If a divorce case is not allocated to a specific judge, and an individual is not seen by a judge as a result of a backlog, compensation can be claimed in some instances.
  7. Grandparents can file separately for a Child Contact Order following a divorce in which a parent does not allow them to spend time with their grandchildren.
  8. If a child is living with their grandparents following a divorce, it is also possible for them to file for a Special Guardianship Order. This gives grandparents a higher grade of parental responsibility than the parent themselves, and means they do not need to consult with parents on issues relating to the children.
  9. Divorce proceedings can be concluded, even if the other spouse ignores official proceedings or if the whereabouts of the spouse is not known.
  10. Nullity, which orders that the marriage is invalid, is an alternative way to bring a marriage to an end. The court can declare a marriage void from the start for various reasons including if it can be proven that there was no consent to marry through a lack of mental capacity. Alternatively, the marriage can become invalid in a variety of circumstance, for example if it was not consummated, or if the wife was already pregnant by somebody else at the time of the wedding.

Jacqueline Fitzgerald says: “Divorce is often an emotionally fraught time, and on top of this it can also be a legally complex process.”

“If you are at all uncertain about what you can claim on divorce, it is important to seek legal assistance.”

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