Post-Recession Surge in Divorces Expected, Say Lawyers

With reports suggesting that the UK may be moving out of recession, many lawyers are predicting a big spike in the amount of divorces they will have to invigilate. Some firms are indicating that they have seen up to a 30% increase in the amount of divorce cases they have to deal with, this could be due to the fact that many couples were putting off a split due to the negative financial implications.

Huge Divorce Drop Back in 2008

The recent rise mirrors a huge drop that occurred just over four years ago when the economic downturn really took hold. With money being too tight to mention and other seemingly more important things on their mind, it appears that couples have just been too busy or broke to consider parting ways, but this looks set to change as the nation starts to look at the possibility of some more stable times ahead.

The official figures actually show that the number of divorces in the United Kingdom dropped for the first two years of the recession and then rose again in 2010 to around 119,00 when the outlook started to look a little bit better.

Equity

Another factor that is seen as fundamental is the fact that couples may have been waiting for the price of their property to creep back up again. As the recession worsened, it seems that people became increasingly concerned about their lowered incomes and how much they would get back if they sold their house. Many divorce lawyers believe this led to many couples postponing their plans to split until they could both walk away with a decent return.

Evidently, not many couples predicted that this would actually be the worst recession in modern times and that the financial doom and gloom would continue for so long.

Larger Rise Could Be On The Way for 2013

Now that many believe there is light at the end of the tunnel and property prices may start to rise very soon, a lot of solicitors are seeing a noticeable rise in divorce proceedings and this is set to gather real pace over the next 12 months.

The figures echo predictions from a number of the United Kingdom’s divorce solicitors and represents some of the first clear cut evidence that an even larger spike in divorce applications could be on the way.

Divorce and Facebook

The following is a guest post regarding divorce and social networks such as Facebook. For specialist advice from divorce lawyers in Edinburgh, see http://www.familylawedinburgh.co.uk/.

Whilst the Internet and social media are becoming useful tool for dating and relationships (it is estimated that 17% of recently married couples met online) there is a dark side to the Internet’s impact on relationships and it is called Facebook. Research has shown that the world’s largest social media website was implicated in a third of last year’s divorce filings. In fact Facebook has such a stronghold over relationships in general that it is not uncommon for one half of a couple to find out that the relationship is over via Facebook, usually by the other half changing his or her relationship status.

Whilst blaming Facebook for divorce automatically gives the impression of infidelity, this is not necessarily the case. Many of those who filed for divorce are not getting divorced because of Facebook, it may simply be the case that Facebook is sighted in a divorce filing to show the bad behaviour of a spouse for example as evidence of rude or offensive messages. What is certain though is that Facebook and social media as a whole are playing a bigger role in divorce proceedings, either as a cause or as a form of evidence.

Generally speaking there are five grounds for divorce: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion without consent for more than two years, desertion with consent for more than two years and separation for more than five years. When looking at these grounds it is easy to see how Facebook could be responsible for at least two of the grounds: adultery and unreasonable behaviour.

Why is this so? There are a number of hypotheses and the simplest reason is that Facebook makes communication so easy. For example, what could start out as an innocent conversation with an ex could lead to something not so innocent and this ties in nicely with another reason – Facebook makes it easier to give in to temptation. Whilst it may not seem fair to blame Facebook for temptation, particularly as it does not force you to do anything, it does nevertheless make it easier to do things you know you should not be doing.

Another reason is that Facebook can change people. The ability to connect and see information so effortlessly can make ordinary people paranoid and this in turn leads to many relationship problems. The problem with Facebook and in fact most social media is that what is said and done is often just a snapshot and taken out of contexts something quite innocent can be taken completely the wrong way.  Arguably the most common reason is that Facebook leaves a trail. Once something is said or done on Facebook there is an ever present risk of it being placed in the public domain.

In fact Facebook has become such a big problem for relationships that it is not uncommon for couples to deactivate their Facebook accounts to save their relationships. When you really think about it, what may seem like a drastic step could actually be quite sensible and could in fact save many a relationship.

Even if the relationship cannot be saved, Facebook can help with other matters such as maintenance and child custody. Any behaviour on Facebook could be used against one spouse to show what their behaviour in general is like which may be used to determine parenting skills or whether the lifestyle of the spouse is (or is not) suitable for children.

If you are considering divorce proceedings because of something you have seen on Facebook (or otherwise) then you should speak to a divorce solicitor who can advise you on the legitimate grounds for divorce. Divorce can be both emotionally and financially taxing and can result in a number of ancillary issues and therefore it is important to ensure that you appoint an experienced divorce solicitor to represent you.

Once piece of advice any divorce lawyer is almost certain to give you is to refrain from messaging your ex partner or saying anything about them on Facebook during divorce proceedings. Whilst people will be used to sharing their feelings online, once in the public domain this information cannot be recalled. This on its own could make the simplest and most amicable of divorces into the most complicated, contentious and expensive.

The Divorce Process: Family Law Information

The Divorce Process

Divorce is the legal process through which two people end their marriage and the legal status that it provides. It is usually an extremely emotional time for the parties involved and also for their children, if they have any. The best way to make your divorce process as smooth as possible is to find a solicitor who you can trust and work comfortably with.

It is important that both parties understand their legal position on divorce and know exactly to what they are entitled. A divorce solicitor can make sure finances and property are properly distributed and arrangements are made for children, leaving no room for disagreements.

Petitioning for divorce

In order to begin the process of divorce one party to the marriage must present a petition for divorce on the grounds that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. It is important to note that the parties must have been married for at least a year before they are able to make such a petition.

Whether the marriage is broken down irretrievably is not simply a matter of opinion, and there is legislation stating that at least one of five factors must be present before any court will make a ruling that the marriage has in fact broken down irretrievably. These five grounds for divorce are as follows: unreasonable behaviour, adultery, living apart for two years and both parties consent to the divorce, living apart for five years, and desertion.

Acknowledgment of service

A copy of the petition must be sent to the other party along with a statement of arrangements for the children (if applicable) and an acknowledgment of service. The respondent must inform the petitioner in the acknowledgment of service whether they will be contesting the divorce. The acknowledgment of service is therefore an extremely important document as it shows the court that the other party is aware of the petition. If the other party refuses to return the acknowledgment of service you may have to arrange for a process server or bailiff to serve the document and make an affidavit stating that they have done so.

Decree nisi

If the court is satisfied that there are valid grounds for divorce it may well grant what is known as a decree nisi. A decree nisi will generally be granted when a divorce is not being contested and there are valid grounds for divorce. The party who made the petition must then apply to have the decree made absolute which they cannot do until at least six weeks and one day from the date of the decree nisi.

Decree absolute

The decree absolute is what actually ends the marriage, as opposed to the decree nisi which merely declares there are satisfactory grounds. Once the decree absolute has been pronounced the marriage has officially ended and usually the parties will begin ancillary relief proceedings: the name given for deciding how the matrimonial assets should be split.

Ancillary relief proceedings

The ancillary relief proceedings are often fiercely contested as a judge will rule on who should have what from the matrimonial assets. The ancillary relief process can be quite long and usually involves three trips to court.

  • A first appointment in which a judge outlines his position and ensures appropriate disclosure has taken place.
  • A financial dispute resolution hearing in which a judge (a different judge from who will be in attendance at the final hearing) will give an indication of what he would order in the hope the parties then settle on similar terms and avoid a final hearing.
  • A final hearing in which an order will be made.

With the potential for several court visits, it is in both parties’ interests to try to facilitate an early settlement to avoid significant legal costs.