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Family and divorce Q&A

05 August 2013

Our divorce & family legal expert Jonathan Eager delves into some commonly asked questions in his line of work.

I have been married less than a year, can I get divorced?

No. Divorce proceedings can only be started if you have been married at least 12 months. Although rare, there may be grounds for nullity proceedings. As an alternative (and within the first 12 months of the marriage), there is the option of judicial separation.

I have been separated from my husband for less than two years, can I use this as a reason for the breakdown of our marriage?

No. You can start divorce proceedings relying on the fact of separation only if you have been separated for a continuous period of at least two years and your husband consents to a divorce. If he does not consent, the required period of separation is five years. However, you may be able to start divorce proceedings on the grounds of his adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

Can my wife’s behaviour be used to improve my financial claims?

Possibly, although unlikely. Behaviour (or “conduct” as it is known in financial remedy proceedings following a divorce) is generally only considered if it is “gross and obvious”. It will, therefore, depend upon the severity of the alleged behaviour/conduct, although it is exceptional for conduct to be taken into account by the court in resolving financial matters upon divorce.

I own a company. Do I have to reveal the existence of the company and its accounts to my wife as part of any financial proceedings?

Yes. Under the Family Proceedings Rules 2010 both parties have a duty to provide full and frank disclosure of their financial circumstances, including any company of which they are a director, shareholder or have some other involvement with.

Does my husband have a claim on my pension, even though it is part of a SIPP?

Yes. A SIPP is considered in the same way as any private or occupational pension scheme and is subject to the same rules as any other pension. However, the ability to successfully pursue any claim will depend on a number of factors.

Since qualifying in 2000 as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Jonathan has worked exclusively in the field of matrimonial and family law and is accredited as a specialist by Resolution. He advises clients in connection with all family and divorce matters, including divorce and separation, nullity, civil partnerships, children, pre-nuptial/civil partnership and post-nuptial/civil partnership agreements, cohabitation and financial issues arising ancillary to separation and divorce.

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