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Helen's Top 3 "Family Law Myths"

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Helens Top 3 "Family Law Myths"

There are many myths and misconceptions about the law when it comes to relationships and family, which can lead to heightened anxiety upon separation, or become a barrier to reaching an early agreement between couples so they can move forward with their lives.

Here, Partner and family law specialist, Helen Cort, gives her top three misunderstandings she hears not just from clients, but also solicitors in other practice areas, and shares the true current legal position.

  1. I’m a common law spouse”

I am afraid you are not, because there is no such title in the law. It is a complete misconception that couples who live together for an extended period acquire the same rights as those who are married or in a civil partnership.

A married couple looking to divorce will have potential financial claims against each for income, capital and pensions.  Unmarried couples, in contrast, will usually only have potential claims against each other in respect of property (and child maintenance).

  1. “I have a right to spend an equal amount of time with my children as my ex”

While the law provides a presumption that a child’s best interests are furthered by having a meaningful relationship with both of their parents (subject to safeguarding the child) this is not to be interpreted as a presumption that there should be a 50/50 care arrangement.  Every family is unique.

  1. “We are divorced so my ex has no financial claims against me”

By virtue of marriage, spouses and former spouses have potential financial claims against each other in respect of capital, income and pensions.   What often is not known is that simply agreeing between themselves how their assets should be divided, getting divorced or even remarrying does not extinguish all of these claims.  What is needed is a Financial Consent Order. 

A Financial Consent Order is a legal document approved by the court that sets out the financial agreement in respect of how the assets such as savings, property, pensions and investments are to be divided upon divorce.   It sets out when there is to be a financial clean break.


If you have any questions relating to relationships or family, you can ask Helen at  h.cort@duttongregroy.co.uk .