Debunking Common Misconceptions About Divorce in Northern Ireland

30 January 2024

For many people, going through a divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged process.  In my experience as a divorce lawyer in Northern Ireland, there are many misconceptions held by my clients that can cloud their understanding of the legal aspects involved in divorce.

Dispelling some of these divorce myths is really important to help people better navigate the divorce landscape in Northern Ireland. Let's unravel some prevalent misconceptions:

Myth 1: ‘Quickie’ Divorces in Northern Ireland

Contrary to popular belief, there is no concept of a "quickie divorce" in Northern Ireland. The divorce process requires adherence to legal procedures.  Grounds for divorce must firstly be established and there is a set procedure for the issue and service of divorce proceedings.  There may also need to be significant time taken to negotiate and agree the division of matrimonial property and assets.   Instructing a divorce lawyer who is experienced and familiar in engaging in the Court and negotiation process can certainly speed matters up, though the timeline for a divorce will vary depending on individual circumstances.

Myth 2: Mutual Consent Always Leads to a Quick Resolution

While mutual consent can facilitate a smoother process, it doesn't guarantee a swift resolution. Legal formalities, financial matters, and child custody arrangements must be addressed, even in amicable divorces. Each case is unique, and the time taken depends on the circumstances of each case. This highlights the importance of choosing the right divorce lawyer in Northern Ireland to guide individuals through the intricacies of the process.

Myth 3: Mothers Automatically Get Custody of Children

In Northern Ireland, decisions regarding the care and contact arrangements for children post-separation are not predetermined by gender, nor are they determined by the divorce Court. If the parents cannot agree what the arrangements for their children should be then matters regarding residence and contact are dealt with by the Family Court. This Court will give paramount consideration to the care arrangements that are deemed to be in the best interests of the child. Factors such as parental involvement, stability, and the child's wishes are considered when determining care arrangements for children.  An experienced divorce and family lawyer in Northern Ireland can assist in understanding the factors considered by the court in determining custody arrangements.

Myth 4: Adultery Is the Only Ground for Divorce

While adultery is a valid ground for divorce, it is not the only one. In Northern Ireland, other grounds include unreasonable behaviour, desertion, and separation for specified periods. Understanding these options allows individuals to pursue a divorce based on the most applicable grounds for their situation.  Guidance and strategic advice from a skilled divorce lawyer on how and when to issue divorce proceedings will empower an individual to choose the most suitable ground for their unique situation.

Myth 5: Marital Assets Are Always Split 50/50

The division of assets is not automatically a 50/50 split upon divorce. The Court will consider various factors, including financial contributions, needs, and the welfare of any children. Achieving a fair and equitable distribution may involve careful negotiation and, if necessary, court intervention. Instructing a specialist divorce lawyer to act on your behalf in any negotiations can ensures a strategic approach to achieve a fair and equitable distribution.

When considering your options for divorce and separation, seeking professional legal advice from a specialist divorce lawyer in Northern Ireland is a vital step to take to allow you to make informed decisions throughout the divorce process and ensure your rights are protected.

For expert advice and assistance on divorce in Northern Ireland contact our Family Law Partner Karen Connolly on or call 028 9024 3901