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The Redknapps did not divorce in seconds: Divorce misconceptions

Posted on January 5th 2018

Reports are rife that Jamie and Louise Redknapp’s 19-year marriage ended in a matter of seconds at the end of December.

Sensationalist headlines like this are not unusual, but are far from accurate and paint an incorrect picture of divorce. Below we discuss why the Redknapp headlines are untrue, and challenge other common divorce misconceptions.

The Redknapps are actually still married:

On December 29th, Louise Redknapp was granted a Decree Nisi. A Decree Nisi is an order by a court, confirming that a Petitioner (the person applying for the divorce) has proven that they are entitled to a divorce and that the marriage has therefore broken down irretrievably.

A divorce is made up of several stages, and the Decree Nisi is essentially the middle stage. Importantly, a couple is still married when Decree Nisi is granted. Therefore, the Redknapps are still married and Louise could, in fact, still withdraw the divorce altogether.

You cannot divorce in seconds:

It may well take a Judge a matter of seconds to read an application for Decree Nisi. However, a divorce will likely take between 4 and 6 months. This is assuming that there are no problems, and that the person who has applied for the divorce applies for it to be made final as soon as they can. All divorces have to go through a set process and your divorce is not final until you have the Decree Absolute.

Here are some other examples of common misconceptions regarding divorce:

  1. You have to wait two or five years to get divorced if there has been no specific trigger for the breakdown of the marriage.

Many people believe that they will not be able to divorce their spouse immediately if there has been no particular incident that brought the marriage to an end, such as an affair. Often, this is not the case.

There is only one ground for a divorce in England and Wales, which is that the marriage has “irretrievably broken down”.  There are five possible reasons that you can use to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down:

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable Behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. Two years’ separation (as long as both spouses agree to the divorce)
  5. Five years’ separation (no need for both spouses to agree)

‘Unreasonable behaviour’ can cover all manner of behaviour. For example, it covers both serious misconduct, such as domestic violence, and less serious conduct, such as poor communication in the marriage.

‘Unreasonable behaviour’ will almost always be available to someone looking to divorce their spouse, as the reason for the breakdown of the marriage.  A divorce can be started immediately on the basis of ‘unreasonable behaviour’.

  • The Decree Nisi means that you are now divorced.

As discussed above, a couple is still married when the Decree Nisi is granted. The Decree Absolute is the document that confirms that a marriage has been brought to a legal end.  If you are the Petitioner (the person who applied for the divorce), you cannot apply for Decree Absolute until at least six weeks have passed from the date when your Decree Nisi was pronounced.  You would have to wait even longer than this to apply for the Decree Absolute as the Respondent (the person being divorced) and it is much harder to apply as the Respondent.

  • You will be penalised when looking at the finances if you are the one being divorced.

This is not the case. The finances on divorce are treated separately from the divorce itself.  Several factors are considered when looking at how the finances can be fairly divided on a divorce, but ‘who is divorcing who’ is not one of these factors.

  • If you leave the matrimonial home, you lose your claim to it.

In divorce each spouse has potential claims to the income, capital, and pensions of the other. You will not have a stronger or weaker claim to the marital home simply because:

  • it is or is not in your sole name
  • you live there, or you do not.

Most importantly, you do not forgo your claim to the house if you decide to move out.  What happens to the matrimonial home will depend upon the circumstances of each case.

  • You have to go to court if you are getting divorced.

Although you must apply to court if you would like a divorce, most divorces are dealt with entirely on paper and most spouses will therefore not need to go into court.

Spouses will sometimes find themselves in court if they cannot agree what is happening with the finances on their divorce, but this is often a last resort step.

There are many ways of approaching finances on divorce, such as:

  • agreement between the two of you
  • mediation
  • voluntary financial disclosure through solicitors

If matters are agreed via one of these routes, there will probably be no need for spouses to attend court.

  • The Law states what should happen to a couple’s children following divorce.

Many people falsely assume that the law says that:

  • Children should live with their mother when their parents separate.
  • There is a minimum or maximum time that each parent should spend with their children after separation.

The Law does not set out any guidance at all on arrangements for children after separation. Parents are expected to agree arrangements between themselves. You should always focus on what is best for your children when making these decisions. If there are difficulties with this, parents should seek further advice as to their options.

These are just some of the misconceptions surrounding divorce. If you are going through or considering a divorce, it is always best to seek advice from a solicitor, so that you can sort the fact from the fiction.

How can we help?

Our expert Family Solicitors offer free initial advice. You can call us today on 01244 312306, or fill in our contact form here.

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