Divorce and Separation
Separation is a time of great anxiety and confusion. It is a difficult choice to make whether to divorce or not, and needs careful consideration. Choosing the right solicitor for you is so important. We are here to listen to you and guide you through life’s maze. We will help you make the right decision for you, offering practical, clear and bespoke advice. We are here to protect your interests and help you to move forward.
Ending a marriage or civil partnership is a court process by way of divorce or dissolution. The actual process does not normally involve court attendance. The process is made up of a series of forms.
The Ministry of Justice are currently piloting online divorce. It is still wise to seek legal advice to ensure that no mistakes are made, however simple.
Mistakes can delay the process and can even void the divorce.
Divorce or dissolution should be viewed in conjunction with financial issues. Our experienced family team can help you resolve the decisions you will need to make.
Our family lawyers are all Resolution members, who abide by Resolutions code of conduct, meaning that we aim to: reduce or manage conflict, support you in putting the interest of the children first, act with honesty, integrity and objectivity and help you through the various options open to you.
Frequently asked questions:
How do I apply for a divorce?
To apply for a divorce, you must have been married for at least a year. The “application” for a divorce is called a “petition”, which sets out the full details of your marriage and the reason for your divorce. Once the petition has been received by the court, the court will post a copy of the petition to your spouse. Your spouse will also receive a “questionnaire” (the Acknowledgement of Service), which should be completed indicating their agreement to the divorce.
There are two decree stages. The first stage is the application for the decree nisi, where the court satisfies itself that the divorce can progress and six weeks after the pronouncement of the decree nisi you can apply for the decree absolute. The decree absolute concludes the divorce proceedings and the document replaces your marriage certificate.
What grounds are there for a divorce?
The law only provides one ground for divorce; the marriage has “broken down irretrievably”. This is proved by one of five facts:
Your spouse has committed adultery
Your spouse has behaved unreasonably
Your spouse has deserted you for two years
You have lived apart for two years and your spouse consents to the divorce
You have lived apart for five years
Do you need the consent of the other spouse?
Your spouse’s consent can assist the smooth progress of the petition but is not always required. In adultery cases your spouse will need to admit this and consent is required on the ground that you have lived apart for two years. It may be that consent is in issue and consideration may need to be given to an alternative ground, such as a petition based on behaviour.
What documents do I need to file at court?
To commence divorce proceedings, you will need to file the divorce petition, your original marriage certificate (or official copy) and court fee (currently £550.00).
How long does a divorce take?
Usually between 6 -8 months, dependent on the speed your spouse responds to the petition, whether your spouse is cooperative and the court processing time.
Do I have to attend court?
This is not usually required other than if your spouse defends the divorce.
What if my spouse will not respond?
It can be arranged for the divorce petition to be personally served upon your spouse. Proof of service can then be established, and it is therefore not necessary for your spouse to respond.
For the purposes of a divorced based on two years’ separation, your spouse’s consent is necessary. If it is not certain that your spouse will not consent, it is advisable to rely upon a different fact for your divorce.
What if I do not know my spouse’s address?
You would need to be able to show that you have made efforts to locate your spouse. You can then apply to court to dispense with service, and if granted you can progress the divorce proceedings, even though your spouse has not been located
When can I remarry?
Only after the decree absolute has been granted by the court.
Are there alternatives to divorce?
Judicial Separation – The procedure is the same as divorce, based on the use of the five facts (adultery, behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation with consent or five years’ separation). You are not however stating that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Rather than a decree Nisi or Absolute, you receive a decree of judicial separation. The decree legally separates you, and you can apply to the court in respect to financial matters, but you cannot remarry.
Deed of Separation – This is an agreement between you and your spouse, setting out financial agreements and matters relating to any children, in a deed.
How can we help?
We can help you in a sympathetic and approachable way, which provides you with clear and practical advice.
We offer fixed fees for straight forward divorces either for the Petitioner or the Respondent