A relationship breakdown is not easy, but choosing the right Divorce Solicitor to help you could reduce conflict and improve the outcome for you.
You might think that getting a divorce means you’ll end up in Court. But if you and your ex agree that you both want a divorce and agree on the reasons for your divorce, you probably won’t have to. And, a Fixed Fee Divorce is likely to suit you best.
During the divorce process, you’ll need to decide what happens to your money, your property and more importantly, your children, if you have any. Our Divorce Solicitors and Lawyers can help you to work through these decisions to get the best possible outcome.
For initial legal advice get in touch with our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors
The Divorce Process in England and Wales
When you’re getting a divorce, it’s really important to understand the divorce process so you know what to expect.
You have to have been married for a least a year before you can get a divorce. You also need to show that your marriage has broken down and can’t be repaired.
To demonstrate irretrievable breakdown, there are five ‘facts’ of divorce. They’re commonly known as the grounds for divorce. They are:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years’ separation and your spouse consents to the divorce
- Five years’ separation
You cannot use adultery as a reason for your divorce if you are in a same sex marriage or you have lived with the situation for more than six months.
The divorce process will be much easier if you can agree on the grounds for divorce with your ex. This means your divorce is uncontested or unchallenged. You can still get a divorce if you can’t agree, but it will be a longer process and probably more expensive too.
After you’ve decided which of the five grounds for divorce you’ll be using you can get the divorce process moving.
The 5 Main Stages to the Divorce Process
Stage One - Complete the application form for a divorce, known as a divorce petition. In addition, you have to pay the Court fee of £550 regardless of whether you use a Divorce Solicitor or not.
Stage Two - The Court will send of copy of the divorce application to your ex or their Divorce Lawyer. Your ex has to respond to the Court within a certain time frame, saying if they agree to the divorce. If your ex doesn’t agree, they must provide an ‘answer to a divorce’, which tells the Court their reasons for disagreeing. There will be a Court hearing to determine the issue.
Stage Three - If your ex agrees with the divorce, you can apply for a Decree Nisi. Complete the form and the statement and send it to the Court. If the Court is satisfied, they’ll grant a Decree Nisi.
Stage Four - Once you have the Decree Nisi, you have to wait for at least 43 days (6 weeks and 1 day) before you can apply for a Decree Absolute. You do this by completing a form and sending it to the Court. But, a Decree Absolute does not sever the financial ties you have with your ex. Consider getting a Financial Order from the Court to remove these financial ties before getting a Decree Absolute.
Stage Five - Providing the divorce criteria have been met and the Court is satisfied, they will issue a Decree Absolute. Once this is issued, you are divorced.
How our Divorce Solicitors Can Help You
However you choose to get a divorce, we’re here to help you. If you want us to handle the whole divorce process for you, we can. But if you want to manage the process yourself with our help, that’s fine too.
We can offer you expert divorce advice on:
- The Grounds for Divorce
- Your Divorce Petition
- Overseas Divorce
- Defending a Divorce
- Cross Petitions
- Civil Partnership Dissolution Hearings
- Judicial Separations
Divorce Financial Settlements
Making sure your finances are in order and your interests are protected is an important part of the divorce process. We can help you to do this.
You’ll need a Consent Order if you have property, money and debts to divide. Otherwise, a Clean Break Order will work. These legally binding Court Orders will make sure that your ex cannot claim any money from you in the future.
A divorce financial settlement will make sure that your interests are protected, both now and in the future. Any financial settlement needs to meet your needs. We can help you negotiate this settlement with your ex so you don’t have to deal with them at all.
We can also help when things get more complicated such as a spouse refusing to provide financial disclosure, when assets need to be frozen or there are wealth or business protection issues.
Talk to us about:
- Divorce financial settlements
- Court Orders i.e. a Consent Order, Clean Break Order, Pension Sharing Order
- Disputes over the family home
- Family trusts
- Overseas assets
- Freezing assets
- Hidden assets
- Business advice and bankruptcy after divorce
- Wealth protection and keeping assets after divorce
We can help you to sort out your finances after divorce.
Our Divorce Solicitor Fees
Our Divorce Solicitors charge an hourly rate fee. This rate will depend on the experience of the Solicitor or Lawyer working on your case.
The expertise needed in every divorce case is different and it really depends on the complexity of your situation.
A Divorce Lawyer can help you if your divorce is not contested or if you need a Financial Order. But for more complex divorces, such as those with properties abroad or high value assets, a Senior Divorce Solicitor or Partner would help you with your divorce.
We’ll talk to you openly and honestly about how much your legal costs will be so there’ll be no nasty surprises at the conclusion of your divorce.
For initial legal advice call 08002605010 or request a callback.
Divorce Case Studies
- When Can I Get Divorced?
In England and Wales you can start divorce proceedings once you have been married for at least a year.
- What are the Grounds for Divorce?
There is one ground for divorce – your marriage has irretrievably broken down. You have to state one of five ‘facts’ in the divorce to prove the breakdown. The five facts are:
Adultery – your husband or wife had sex with someone of the opposite sex and you’ve not lived with it for more than 6 months
Unreasonable behaviour – your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.
Desertion – your husband or wife has left you for at least two years before you start your divorce.
Two years separation and you both agree to the divorce – if you both agree and you’ve been separated for at least two years, you can apply for a divorce.
Five years separation – you can apply for a divorce if you’ve been separated for five years, even if your husband or wife does not agree
- How Long Does Divorce Take?
In England and Wales, a divorce normally takes around six months. There are some more complicated circumstances which could result in the divorce taking longer.
- How Much Does Divorce Cost?
You will need to pay the Court fee if you are the one applying for the divorce. You’ll also have to pay any legal fees for legal advice about your divorce. It’s important to get legal advice from a specialist Divorce Solicitor so you know where you stand. We offer an Initial Fixed Fee Consultation to discuss your situation with you. We can give you all the options at this meeting so you know the facts before moving forward. Legal Aid is not available for divorce unless there has been domestic violence or child abduction but we don’t offer this service.
- My Husband and I Agree to the Divorce. Can You Represent us Both?
No we can’t as it is a conflict of interest. It’s important for you both to have independent legal advice and we’ll do all we can to make sure that our involvement does not affect your current agreement. We can make recommendations for their representation to help the process if necessary.
- Once I Start Divorce Proceedings, Can I Stop if I Change my Mind?
Yes you can, people do reconcile. However, if the divorce has already reached the Decree Nisi stage, your husband or wife could simply apply for the Decree Absolute, which means the divorce would be finalised. Generally speaking, you have more control if you started the process.
- Will I Need to go to Court at any Stage?
Probably not as most divorces are dealt with by the Court on paper. If your divorce is defended, you may need to go to Court but this is rare.
- How Do I Start Divorce Proceedings?
You’ll need to make a divorce application and send it to the Court with your original marriage certificate and the Court fee.
- What Happens if I’ve Lost my Marriage Certificate?
You can get a certified copy from the General Register Office (GRO) online, as long as you were married at least 18 months ago. If not, you should apply to the Register Office local to where you were married. It will cost you around £11 to £15 currently and will take 15 working days.
- I Got Married Abroad. Can I get Divorced in the UK?
Yes you can as long as your marriage is recognised in England or Wales. You’ll need to prove that you were married abroad and you can do this with your original marriage certificate. If you have lost it, you may have to apply for another one from the country you were married in which could cause a delay. It’s best to check you have this document as part of your preparation for seeking legal advice for your divorce.
- My Spouse Probably won’t Cooperate. Will this Stop the Divorce?
The divorce documentation needs to be served on your spouse and the Court requires proof they received it. They do this by completing an “Acknowledgment of Service” form. If they don’t respond after the paperwork has been posted to them, our Divorce Solicitors can arrange for him/her to be served personally with the paperwork by an agent. There is an additional fee for this service.
- I Don’t know How to Contact my Spouse. Will this Stop the Divorce?
You’ll need to show to the Court that you’ve done all you can to trace your wife/husband. The Court may then rule that the divorce can go ahead without the paperwork being served on your spouse. We can tell you what steps you need to take to try to track down your spouse and you’ll need to swear on a statement that we draft for the Court. This will increase the cost of your divorce.
- Will Getting Divorced Sort Out all the Matrimonial Financial Arrangements?
No. You’ll need to deal with any financial issues separately. If you and your husband or wife can agree on how to deal with your financial matters, a solicitor can draft the agreement into a Consent Order which is filed at Court for approval. If you can’t agree, you can still get divorced but we strongly advise you to deal with your financial issues before the divorce is finalised. If the Court does not make an Order on financial matters as part of your divorce, then either of you could still make a claim against in the other in the future, even though you’re divorced.
- Will Getting Divorced Sort Out the Arrangements for Children?
No. Your divorce simply deals with dissolving your marriage. You’ll either need to come to an agreement with your husband or wife or let the Court decide. Applications will be made through the Family Court but you will need to attend a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting, known as MIAM first. This is a requirement before going to Family Court but there are some exemptions.
- What is a Decree Nisi?
A Decree Nisi is made when the Court is satisfied that you have met the criteria to divorce. Nisi means ‘unless’ in Latin. That means your divorce is not finalised unless you apply for a Decree Absolute. Once a Decree Nisi has been issued, the Court can make Financial Orders but you won’t be divorced until your Decree Absolute is pronounced.
- What is a Decree Absolute?
A Decree Absolute is the final Order of the Court that will end your marriage. Once the Decree Absolute is issued, you can get married again. Do get legal advice before you remarry as this could impact you financially if you’ve not resolved your financial and property matters first. You may also want to consider a Prenuptial Agreement.
- When Should I Apply for the Decree Absolute?
Your Divorce Solicitor will tell you the when to apply for the Decree Absolute. If you applied for the divorce (the applicant), the first date you can apply for the Decree Absolute is six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi has been made. However, it may be better for you to wait until all the property and financial issues have been resolved so you don’t jeopardise your financial position.
- A Decree Nisi has been Issued but my Spouse won’t Apply for the Decree Absolute. What Can I Do?
As the respondent to the divorce proceedings, you can apply for a Decree Absolute three months after the time the applicant could first apply. Practically, this means you can apply about four and a half months after the date of the Decree Nisi. This will require a statement justifying why you are applying to divorce as a Respondent and will increase your costs.
- Do I Need to Make a New Will after my Divorce?
The parts of your Will that relate to your ex-husband or ex-wife will be affected by your divorce. Anything you left to your ex-partner will be treated as if they died on the date of the Decree Absolute. Although your Will is not invalidated by your divorce, you should make a new Will as soon as possible to avoid your Will being ignored because your ex-partner is treated as having died on the day you divorced.
For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors
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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.