If you are a man facing divorce, then it pays to know what divorce is likely to mean for you. Of course your major concerns are going to revolve around your children, your house and your other assets – under English law, it is quite normal for a divorce to leave a couple’s house transferred to the sole ownership of the wife, who also receives custody of the children. The husband is also required to pay maintenance for the children until they have left full-time education.
The best advice for men involved in divorce proceedings is to be aware of this most likely outcome – and manage one’s expectations accordingly. To see why this is the case, it is good to have an overview of the divorce process – specifically the three parts of the puzzle: the divorce itself, the division of assets and the provisions made for children.
Because a marriage is a partnership between two people, English divorce law states that when either party declares their marriage over, then it is effectively ended. Although there are various conditions than need to be fulfilled, nobody outside the marriage has the authority to force a husband and wife to stay together if either party does not wish it. This makes it extremely difficult and expensive to contest a divorce.
From the man’s point of view this means that, practically, most husbands will not be able to stop their wives from getting a divorce – it is also worth bearing in mind that wives issue the majority of all divorce petitions. Unless your circumstances are incredibly exceptional – and your divorce lawyers will be able to advise you on this – you will almost certainly fail in any attempt to defend a divorce petition, as well as incurring huge additional legal costs.
The division of assets
When a divorce is finalised, the Court has the power to divide all of a couple’s assets as it pleases, within established rules, so although it is meant to be a fair process, it cannot be prevented by either party to the divorce – US-style pre-nuptial agreements are not valid in the UK. For men, this means that there is nothing to stop either party initiating a divorce and then the courts deciding what will happen to all property and assets. Contesting these decisions is quite normal, but it can be a long, expensive and bitter process.
Proceedings relating to offspring
Although it is common for matters concerning children in a divorce to be resolved amicably by prior agreement, very bitter court battles over custody and care can, and do, happen. Men should ask themselves if this is what they want for themselves and their children.