Managing Partner Sarah Snow made her television debut today on ITV’s This Morning. She was there to answer questions from viewers about different aspects of divorce. The first Monday of a new year is often referred to as ‘Divorce Day’ due to the increase in enquiries lawyers receive at this time.
With that in mind, hosts Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford invited people who had questions about divorce to call in so that Sarah could answer them.
The first question came from a woman who claimed she had a husband who drinks a lot and gets verbally abusive. She wants to seek a divorce but cannot afford the court fees or to move out of the house. She explained that her marriage had become very lonely and she had effectively become a single mother.
Sarah said that while financial assistance for divorce cases is much harder to get since the dramatic cuts to legal aid, it is not impossible. There is still a provision for legal aid if there has been domestic abuse. That may help the caller apply for maintenance from her husband for both her and the children which will allow her to move out. As for the court papers, Sarah explained that there were circumstances under which these fees could be waived.
Eamonn then mentioned that most divorce settlements are just a 50/50 split, but Sarah pointed out that although this often the starting point, such a division of money and assets is not a hard and fast rule. The Family Courts are more discretionary and nuanced, she said, and their goal is towards fairness. As a result, if one spouse has less earning capacity than the other they may end up with a larger settlement once the divorce is complete.
Another viewer said that she had been separated from her husband for 18 months and they now got on as friends better than they ever did as man and wife. However, now she wants to make the end of the marriage official but was not sure how to go about starting the process of divorce. She was also worried that the amicable relationship they now have could be jeopardised if she goes ahead.
Sarah told the caller that while she may not want to involve lawyers, it was important that she seek legal advice so she knows her rights in this situation. She also mentioned that there were ways to get a divorce without it descending into acrimony, such as mediation or arbitration.
Sarah also talked to a woman who claimed her partner had walked out on Boxing Day. The woman still lived in the house, even though it was owned by her partner. Sarah explained the legal difficulties of such a situation given that there is no cohabitation law in England and Wales.