Divorce law is not considered to be ‘black letter law’. That is to say it is not governed by a set of technical legal rules that are rigidly applied to every set of circumstances, as is the case for other areas of law. Divorce law is largely the practical application of a legal framework, mostly to the division of finances or the arrangements for children. Most family situations can be ‘distinguished’ from leading cases 'on the facts'. That is to say, most family circumstances are individual and whilst published ‘cases’ in the higher courts might give some guidance, the application of law to each situation usually varies from key cases in some dimension. As a result, reaching sensible outcomes in family law matters often involves just as much common sense and understanding of the priorities of each of the parties, along with the need to put any children at the centre of any provision made, as it does the application of statute and leading cases.
It is usually a help to gain some understanding of family law at the outset of your process; this will help you to understand how the legal process could impact on your decisions during divorce or separation. After this point, your legal advisors will likely spend much more time helping you arrive at a sensible outcome within the legal framework than considering the law, per se. You and your spouse are then free to make decisions within that framework. Whilst your understanding of the law as it applies to your circumstances will likely increase over time, it is helpful to have an overview of the law at the beginning as this will help to shape your deliberations.
There are three main areas of divorce – children, money and cash flow.