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Maybe you separated just before lockdown and haven’t been able to make time to make an appointment with a solicitor. Perhaps you didn’t know it was possible to arrange a virtual meeting with a solicitor. Or, perhaps you are scared about what the uncertain future holds for you and your family at this time.

No two divorces are the same, but there are general principles to be applied to every divorce. To help anyone sitting at home and worrying about their future, I thought I would share these basic principles of divorce with you.

In Northern Ireland, you must be married for at least 2 years before you can issue any petition for divorce.

There are 5 grounds or reasons to get divorced in Northern Ireland;

- Unreasonable behaviour
- Adultery
- 2 years desertion
- 2 years separation with consent
- 5 years separation

Often, separated couples wrongly believe getting a divorce resolves all outstanding matters between them. If you have obtained a Decree Absolute, but haven’t obtained an order from the court finalising your finances alongside it, this leaves the door open for a financial claim by your ex-spouse at any time in the future.

The reason for the breakdown of the marriage will not have a bearing on how the assets are divided, unless in extreme circumstances. For example, you will not receive an additional sum of money from the assets because your spouse committed adultery. The specific circumstances taken in to account when dividing the financial assets are;
- The length of your marriage
- Your age
- If there are any minor children of the marriage (this can include non-biological children of the family)
- The standard of living enjoyed prior to the breakdown of the marriage
- Your future financial needs
- Any physical or mental disability of either spouse

All financial assets attached to you and/your spouse, whether in your joint names or otherwise, are in the matrimonial pot to divide. For example;
- If your family home is only in your spouse’s name, you still are entitled to a percentage of the property. How much that percentage will be depends on the financial principles outlined above.
- If you own part of your parents home, or jointly own any sort of property with someone else, the value of your share in this property will be taken into account when dividing the assets.
- If you own a business, the value of this business will be taken in to account.
- If you have paid in to a pension, even prior to the marriage, this will also be taken in to account.

Despite the lockdown measure in place, I am working from home and pushing my clients cases forward as far as possible. To learn how I am doing this, you can read here

If you are separated and worried about what the future holds for you, please do not hesitate to get in touch. To discuss how the above principles will be applied in your divorce, please email me on julie.tierney@edwardsandcompany.co.uk to arrange a call.

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