Do the Beckhams and Rooneys prove you should stay in a marriage and work at it?

With the press full of stories about the Beckhams and Rooneys and their historical marriage woes, McAlister Family Law Partner, Lisa Brown, raises the question of whether it is the right thing to stay in a marriage when it is floundering or not?

Both the Beckhams and the Rooneys appear to have navigated troubled waters and arguably come out stronger but that is not always the case and there is no one right answer as to how hard is too hard when it comes to fighting for a relationship.

If I start divorce proceedings is there no way back?

From a legal perspective should you decide to start divorce proceedings there is still a way back until the final divorce order as you can effectively ask the court to cancel the proceedings. It is rare that this happens as for lots of people the process of separating their finances and resolving issues in relation to the children can polarise them further. Having said that there are couples who go through the entire process only to get re-married again!

Does it matter if I am the one who ends it?

Sometimes the making of the initial decision can be the hardest part and it can also colour how the parties deal with the practical elements of separation. For example, where it was more one person’s desire than the others, they can feel guilty and end up walking away with less than they deserve.

The process of divorce and all that comes with it is inevitably driven by emotions, but parties do need to understand that with the financial settlement they only get one chance to get it right and if they agree something which is overly generous or, conversely, which doesn’t meet their needs they may end up regretting it.

From a legal point of view, it will not have any impact who ends the relationship nor whose fault it is. Part of the reasoning behind that is that if some account was taken of who left who and the circumstances of that in determining either financial or child arrangement issues then the courts would be full of people arguing about whose fault the demise of the relationship actually was. Relationships are complex and this would lead to greater uncertainty and cost in litigation.

So, what should I do?

There is perhaps a reluctance to speak to a divorce lawyer when a relationship may be struggling- almost as if in doing so you are accepting the relationship is over. Like most things in life though it is far better to be aware of what might happen than end up potentially going into the situation blind.

Added to that there are many different myths about family law which are frequently repeated, but wholly inaccurate and inevitably most people will know somebody who has had a “bad” divorce with it being long fought, expensive, acrimonious or all of those things. This can inadvertently impact your view and cause unnecessary stress and worry.

Speaking to somebody who can guide you through the legal process could help crystallise your decision one way or another. A divorce/ family solicitor shouldn’t be pushing you into a divorce but instead should set out the various legal options and processes to allow you to make an informed decision. Advice given is always completely confidential.

If you are in a relationship that is struggling at present my advice would be to speak to one of our specialist family solicitors so you can make a decision about your future with all of the facts.

If you or someone you know is affected by the issues raised in this blog post, we can provide you with expert legal advice. For more information, please get in touch with our specialist team at

  • Lisa Brown