With increasing numbers of separating couples going to court without legal support, it’s vital more than ever that you know your basic rights when it comes to divorce. Allowing yourself to be bullied, manipulated, or hurried through the separation process may result in you missing out on assets that you have a right to claim.
Understanding your rights is an important first step when entering into separation – whether you choose to go to court, or use a private method like mediation, arbitration or collaborative family law. Family Law organisation Resolution also has plenty of free resources to help you find a family lawyer and choose the right process for your circumstances. For a brief overview of your legal rights during divorce, read on:
Whether you own your home, rent, pay the mortgage, or contribute in other ways, you have the right to remain in the family home unless your ex has sought a court order to make you leave. Financial contributions do not necessarily overrule non-financial contributions when it comes to marriage (for example, if one party stays home to look after the children or take responsibility for the housework, their contribution is still valued and counted when it comes to dividing up assets).
You also have the right to be provided with full information regarding your ex’s finances, including bank statements, savings accounts, and investments. Non-disclosure (withholding assets from a financial settlement) can be classed as fraud and could result in a fine.
Contact with Children
Parents share legal responsibility for their children, which means you have the right to be involved in important decisions, the right to know about their well-being, and the right to spend time with them. However, it’s best to organise the division of childcare via your solicitor or mediator to ensure that your children’s best interest are at the centre of your arrangements.
Division of Assets
If you take your divorce to court, your situation will be assessed and a financial settlement will be decided based on each of your needs, and the well-being of any children. Division of assets will not always be equal, and just because an asset is not co-owned (for example, if only one of your names is on the deeds to the family home) it does not automatically mean that it belongs to only one of you. You are each entitled to share both your assets and your debts when it comes to separation.
Prenuptial and Cohabitation Agreements
If you entered into a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement, this document may be used to dictate the division of assets or the process of separation, according to your prior wishes. For cohabiting couples, a cohabitation agreement is an effective way to protect your assets and your relationship from future disagreements, since you do not automatically have the same legal rights as a married couple.
For more information on your legal rights during separation, and to find out more about the different kinds of dispute resolution available, please get in touch with us at Frances Lindsay & Co. Our friendly, down-to-earth family lawyers are here to take the weight off your shoulders and find the right solution for your circumstances.Tags: cohabitation agreement, divorce, housing rights, prenuptial agreement, separation