Resolving Relationship Trouble

There was a competition to write a short story in as few as three words. Some of the most famous entries include:

  • God is dead.
  • Humpty Dumpty jumped.
  • Cinderella got divorced.

Each story tells a sorry tale.

Of course, no-one goes into a marriage or civil partnership expecting it to end, but sadly it happens in more and more cases.

There’s nothing in the original fairytale to suggest that Prince Charming got a pre-nuptial agreement, but even if he did, it’s still not legally binding under UK law.

The law relating to finance on divorce has not been overhauled for over forty years. It’s vague, and open to interpretation by individual judges, which leads to uncertainty for the couples concerned.

Changes are proposed, if not yet underfoot. For example, the Divorce Financial Provision Bill that is currently going through Parliament calls for:

  • 50:50 split of matrimonial assets (unless there are exceptional circumstances)
  • Maintenance to be paid to the financially weaker party for up to three years only

(This applies to English law. Note that the law is different in Scotland.)

If you are engaged, or already married, what happens if you ever split up is an important – if awkward – conversation to have. You and your partner should take independent legal advice and be sure to disclose all your assets. For pre-nups, this should happen at least 21 days before the wedding.

If the relationship breaks down, you need to protect yourself.

  • If your spouse becomes violent, contact the police and/or a solicitor urgently to get an injunction designed to keep your spouse away from you.
  • If your spouse harasses you, you can get a non-molestation injunction through the civil court.
  • If you think your spouse is concealing assets, transferring them, or hiding them in a trust, you can ask the court to freeze those assets.
  • If the family home is in your spouse’s name, there are various ways you can register your interest to stop them selling or mortgaging it without your knowledge.
  • If your spouse stops paying the rent or mortgage when they usually do so, you can make an application for maintenance.

If you do get divorced, or your civil partnership ends, here are some of the things you may need to consider:

  • Update your Will
  • Change your name by Deed Poll
  • Close any joint bank accounts and savings accounts
  • Put your financial order into effect
  • Invest your money wisely
  • Allow your ex to collect their things in a calm and peaceful way
  • Reassure your children they are loved by both parents, and spend lots of time with them
  • Give yourself a makeover
  • Go on holiday
  • Get back onto the dating scene

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