As we are all well aware, we are living through unprecedented times. The Covid-19 pandemic has had an effect upon every aspect of our lives. For many, the financial and emotional impact of the current lockdown will also have a long-lasting effect upon family relationships. Some will come out of the current lockdown with stronger relationships, but some will come to realise that their relationships require to be re-evaluated.
The breakdown of a relationship is never an easy thing, but there are ways to minimise the upset and distress to all concerned, including any children of the family. For many, the ongoing pandemic will make the financial impact of a separation even more pressing than ever before. Getting good advice is therefore essential. It is important to know what your rights are, and how matters can be resolved.
Much will depend upon whether a couple are married (or in a civil partnership) or simply living together. The law in relation to those who are and are not married is very different. It is therefore important that good advice is sought at an early stage.
For married couples the law states that “the net value of the matrimonial property should be shared fairly between the parties to the marriage”. The starting point for a fair sharing is an equal sharing. There are however various provisions which can be argued to depart from an equal division. Matrimonial property is largely seen as all assets and debts which were accrued by the parties during the marriage, whether in one party’s sole name or in joint names. As a starting point, it is important to get together paperwork to show what assets and debts there were at the date that a couple separate.
For cohabiting couples (those who are living together but not married), the law is less well defined, and again it is important that good advice is sought at an early stage.
Once matters are agreed a Minute of Agreement (sometimes called a separation agreement) will be prepared. This sets out the full details of the arrangements which have been agreed. It can deal not only with financial issues, but also issues concerning the arrangements for any children of the relationship should the couple wish to include this.
Where a couple are married, and wish to divorce, that can follow on afterwards. The usual grounds for divorce are that a couple have been separated for over a year and both agree to the divorce, or that they have been separated for two years if one will not agree. It is also possible to divorce on the grounds of your spouse’s unreasonable behaviour, or on the grounds of their adultery, if that is applicable.
The Drummond Miller family law team is extremely experienced in dealing with all aspects of family law including separation and child-related matters. If you would like any further information or advice, please get in touch with our experienced solicitors in Edinburgh, Dalkeith, Musselburgh or Bathgate. Whilst our offices are currently closed to clients, we are able to speak to you via telephone or video call.