What happens if my partner and I split up?

Relationships in the modern world can be incredibly unpredictable, as evidenced by recent figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicating that almost half (42 per cent) of all marriages end in divorce.

Naturally, splitting up with your partner can prove to be incredibly stressful and complicated, particularly if you have children together, jointly-own a property or share a buy-to-let home.

Due to this, it is crucial that couples seek specialist advice, in order to help alleviate some of the tension at such a difficult time.

Married couples and civil partners

People who are married or in a civil partnership in England and Wales have a certain number of legal rights in the event of a divorce or dissolution.

In order to petition for a divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership an individual needs to either:

  1. Have been separated from their partner for a period of two years or more, or;
  2. Be able to prove that their partner is ‘at fault’ due to either adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour.

Critics claim that existing laws are flawed, in that they effectively encourage couples to attribute fault to a partner in order to obtain a speedy divorce – which, naturally, can exacerbate the difficulties of an already very tense situation. This has led to calls for the introduction of a ‘no-fault’ divorce, which are currently being consulted on.

In most cases, a Court will look to split the assets accumulated by a married couple or civil partners equally, however, there are factors taken into consideration, which can mean a departure from an equal division.

Seeking specialist legal advice from the earliest possible opportunity is always crucial.

Cohabiting couples

Unlike those who are married or in a civil partnership, cohabiting couples have very limited legal rights in the event of a relationship breakdown.

The concept of ‘common law marriage’ is a myth and, in reality, cohabiting couples who separate must rely on a complex web of trust and property law to establish who has ownership of the assets and what they are entitled to as an individual, in the event of a split.

It is important for couples to consider making other arrangements to protect themselves, such as setting up a cohabitation agreement.

How can Palmers Solicitors help?

Our expert family law team specialise in advising on all aspects of divorce, the dissolution of civil partnerships and cohabitation agreements. To find out how we can help, please contact us.