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News and Insights
30 December 2022
Debunking common myths about divorce and separation in Jersey
Having an accurate understanding of divorce or separation is an important part of the process.
If you've never been through a divorce or separation before, the realities of the process will understandably be unfamiliar to you.
You may receive well-meaning advice from friends, family members or work colleagues, however, there is a strong probability that some of what they tell you may be half true, completely wrong, out of date or simply doesn’t apply under Jersey law.
Divorce and separation myths are so common that our Family Law team often spend consultation time dispelling these misunderstandings.
The following are the most common myths they come across, together with some advice and clarity on these often-quoted mistruths.
Top 5 Divorce Myths
Myth 1: No maintenance, no contact
Myth: 'If my ex doesn’t pay child maintenance, they can’t see the children'
Contact and maintenance are two separate issues. If you are the parent of a child, you have a right to have contact with your child(ren) but you also have an obligation to pay child maintenance.
If you are not seeing your child (either voluntarily or involuntarily), a court would still expect you to pay child maintenance.
Conversely, you cannot stop your ex-partner from seeing the child(ren) solely because they are not paying child maintenance.
Myth 2: Our assets will be split 50/50
Myth: 'The court will simply divide our assets in half when we divorce'
Answer: Often false.
The Court will often look to divide assets built up during the marriage equally, it is more often than not that there are not enough assets to meet parties’ “needs” (i.e. capital and income needs to live independently) and therefore, more often than not, there is an unequal split of the assets.
This is usually to account for the disparity in one party’s ability to be self-sufficient going forward (usually the bread winner) and the other who is less able (usually the home maker).
Myth 3: You cheated so I get more
Myth: 'Because my ex committed adultery/caused the breakdown of the marriage, I will get more money'
The court tries very hard to avoid allegations between the parties as to whose fault the breakdown of the marriage/civil partnership is.
There are very limited circumstances when a party’s “conduct” during the marriage will be relevant to the division of the marital assets and that is in what the courts term as “gross and obvious” situations.
Myth 4: Mums always get the kids
Myth: 'Mothers are always awarded primary care of the children'
There is no presumption that children should live with their mothers rather than their fathers.
The court will make orders in respect of where a child should primarily live in the best interests of the child. What is in the best interests of the child(ren) will vary from case to case.
Myth 5: We have the same rights as a married couple
Myth: 'Even though we aren’t married, we are protected by rights of “common law marriage”'
Jersey does not provide any additional rights to those who are not in a marriage or civil partnership no matter how long you have been in a relationship.
If you have children you may have a claim for child maintenance under the Children (Jersey) Law, however, if you live together in a property owned by your partner, you do not have any automatic legal right to that property, even if you have been helping to pay the mortgage on it.
Free 30 Minute Family Law Consultation
Our experienced family law team
Our experienced family law team is headed up by Jersey’s leading family law advocates Rose Colley and Jamie Orchard.
The team has a sensitive and discreet approach when dealing with complex family issues, while providing an effective and efficient service.
This means that Viberts is recognised as having one of the best family law teams in Jersey.