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Divorce & Separation

The breakdown of a relationship or marriage is an emotional and stressful time. It is an unfortunate fact of life that not all marriages are successful. Our specialist solicitors can provide advice on divorce and separation in a clear and sensitive manner. We also recognise that the cultural and religious implications of a divorce need to be considered from the outset so we will spend time with you to understand the issues and advise you on the best course of action for your circumstances.

We understand that trying to assess the impact of your separation upon your children, your future, pensions, finances, property and sometimes a business is a difficult one. We are able to advise you on the range of options available to you and to consider with you the benefits of a particular course of action. Listening to you is always a key to our approach because every case is different. Rest assured, our aim is not to steer you into divorce proceedings prematurely, but to guide you through the decision making progress at your pace. We are used to helping both husbands and wives in divorce, separation and nullity.

Divorce & Separation - Frequently Asked Questions

Who should start the divorce first?

To prevent over-hasty decisions to end short marriages, a one year rule exists. This means that you have to have been married for more than a year before a divorce petition can be issued. So long the criteria enabling you to use the English legal system are satisfied; either a husband or a wife can apply to the Court for a divorce. The person issuing the petition is called the Petitioner and the person responding to the proceedings is called the Respondent.

What does Divorce and irreconcilable differences mean?

You cannot divorce for this reason alone in the UK contrary to the popular beliefs. The fact that you simply don’t get along any more is not enough. To bring your marriage to an end, specific legal steps have to be followed. Neither party to a marriage can apply for a divorce until they have been married for at least one year. In addition, the party seeking the divorce has to be able to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The law requires that your marriage has irretrievably broken down and you show this by demonstrating one of the following five reasons:

  • an allegation of adultery
  • unreasonable behaviour
  • two years separation by consent
  • two years desertion
  • five years separation

What does the Court need?

The court will need your original or certified marriage certificate with the petition for your Matrimonial Order (Divorce) and a form has to be completed confirming the arrangements that have been made for any children aged less than 18 years old.

There are Court fees that need to be paid. Our specialist family lawyers will be able to advise you of these as the proceedings progress.

If there are no disagreements about your children or finances then you can expect to be divorced in about 4 to 6 months. This is not always possible and we will advise you of the likely timescale at each stage of the procedure

What happen to our children?

Where there are children involved, the court must be provided with information about the arrangements that are to be made for the care of your children.

We work with several organisations and agencies that can help parents and children to understand what is happening to the family during a divorce or separation. We can refer you to these organisations if of help.

Can I change my name to my maiden name now or after I get my divorce?

You do not have to wait until your divorce is finalised before changing your surname or reverting back to your maiden name. We can help you with this by preparing a change of name deed. All relevant authorities, medical agencies, government bodies and departments must be notified of the change.

Can I change my name to my maiden name now or after I get my divorce?

You do not have to wait until your divorce is finalised before changing your surname or reverting back to your maiden name. We can help you with this by preparing a change of name deed. All relevant authorities, medical agencies, government bodies and departments must be notified of the change.

How long will the divorce take?

This depends on the circumstances of the case and the time restraints on the parties, legal advisors and the Court. Where proceedings progress on an undefended basis we aim to conclude the matter within 4 to 6 months and often without the need for you to attend the Court providing you with a speedy and stress free resolution. However, if there are some disagreements we would aim to have the divorce finalised between 6 to 9 months.

How much will obtaining a divorce cost me?

Our fee for a fixed fee divorce for undefended is £ 500.00 plus VAT. Fixed fee divorce is designed to provide a cost-effective means of securing a divorce with the knowledge that throughout the process you are receiving expert advice with peace of mind about the costs. Our aim is to help you understand the Court process, what we do for you and the costs involved.

The breakdown of a marriage is an emotional experience for all those involved. Our fixed fee for divorce, where the Petition is not contested, aims to give you peace of mind and includes all the steps from taking your initial instructions through to the Decree Absolute.

Are there any other costs?

The Court fee on filing the Petition at present is £410.00

What do our costs include?

Our fixed fee divorce covers the preparation and issue of the Divorce Petition and all the steps that need to be taken to obtain the Decree Absolute in divorce proceedings which are not contested and the parties are agreeable to divorce and they conclude the matter promptly.

If your divorce proceedings become more complex, for example, if your husband or wife defends the proceedings or files their own Divorce Petition, we will notify you of this and give you an estimate of the likely increase in fees including outlining the additional work that will need to be undertaken.

Another common problem which may occur is if your husband or wife fails to return the Acknowledgement of Service of the Divorce Petition after the Court has posted the Petition to them. If this happens it may become necessary to arrange for a further set of the divorce papers to be delivered by hand by an enquiry agent so that the divorce proceedings can be progressed. Should this prove to be necessary, our fees will increase and there will be a fee payable to the enquiry agent. If this situation arises we will advise you in advance of the likely costs involved.

What is not included?
  • Any work that becomes necessary if the Divorce Petition becomes defended or if it needs to be altered once it has been issued by the Court.
  • Enquiry Agent’s fees if the paper have to be served personally on your husband or wife.
  • The fee payable if we have to obtain a copy marriage certificate.
  • The cost of swearing the Affidavit in Support of the Divorce Petition.
  • Any advice and proceedings concerning property, finances and children.
  • If any of the above applies our work will be carried out at a preferential hourly rate and we will provide you with a clear estimate of the likely costs involved.

If any of the above applies our work will be carried out at a preferential hourly rate and we will provide you with a clear estimate of the likely costs involved.

Can I recover the costs of the divorce from my spouse?

Within the Petition for your matrimonial order, it is possible to ask the Court to Order that your husband or wife contributes to the costs of the divorce proceedings. If such an Order is made this may cover some or all of the fees you incur under this plan. If this is of interest to you we will explain how this works during our initial meeting. Please note that we can give no guarantee of success for costs Order in your favour unless a contribution is agreed between you.

If an Order for costs is made by the Court the cost of one letter to your husband or wife asking for payment of those costs is included. However, the fixed fee does not include the fees for enforcing (i.e. recovering) any Order for costs made within the divorce proceedings. If we have to help you to enforce that Order there will be additional fees involved, some of which may be recoverable from your husband or wife. The likely costs involved will be indicated to you should this be necessary.

What should I do next?

If you would like to proceed, please complete the Instruction Sheet which is available to download from our clients corner. When you come for your first meeting, please bring:-

  • Your original marriage certificate or a certified copy from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages
  • The completed Instruction Sheet and supporting documents (where appropriate)
  • The initial payment

What is the Divorce procedure?

Any Divorce Petition has to be accompanied by an official copy of your marriage certificate. A photocopy is insufficient. If you have mislaid your marriage certificate and were married in England or Wales, an official copy of your marriage certificate can easily be obtained from the office of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the district in which you were married. Please note that the Court does not return your marriage certificate at the end of the divorce proceedings.

A Divorce Petition sets out the details of your marriage, the names, addresses and dates of birth of any children and the grounds for the divorce. If there are any dependent children then a further document known as a Statement of Arrangements for Children has to be prepared setting out information about where the children will live, who looks after them etc. Whilst the Court requires this information about the children it will not interfere with any arrangements that you have made unless there is a very good reason to do so.

The Petition and Statement of Arrangements for Children (if appropriate) are sent to the Court with the appropriate Court fee. The Court issues the Petition and a copy is sent to your husband or wife along with a form called an Acknowledgement of Service. In this form your husband or wife states whether they intend to contest the divorce or dispute the arrangements for the children set out in the Statement of Arrangements.

If your husband or wife fails to return the Acknowledgement of Service to the Court it will be necessary for proof to be provided that the Divorce Petition has been received by your husband or wife. This is usually done by arranging for a process server to personally hand a copy of the divorce papers to your husband or wife. Another alternative is to ask the Court to order that service is deemed to have taken place or can be dispensed with. This is something that you can discuss with your solicitor should it prove necessary. Please remember that this work does not form part of the fixed fee.

If your husband or wife is not contesting or defending the divorce, you will have to swear an oath or affirm that the contents of the Divorce Petition are true. This is done in the form of an Affidavit which is then sent to the Court with a request for Decree Nisi to be pronounced. A District Judge will look at all of the papers and if he or she is satisfied that all of the procedural steps have been complied with, they will order that Decree Nisi can be made on a set date. Six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi has been granted you can apply for the decree to be made absolute. It is the Decree Absolute which brings your marriage to an end.

Will it be necessary for me to attend Court?

It is usually not necessary for anyone to attend Court with regard to the divorce proceedings if they are not defended. If the proceedings are contested then there will be a hearing. It is also possible that you may have to attend Court if you are unable to agree the arrangements for your children or for financial provision with your husband or wife.

Are Court proceedings held in public?

Court proceedings relating to Family Law are usually held in private. The press are able to publish the fact that a Decree Nisi of divorce has been pronounced. The information that they are allowed to publish is limited to the names of the couple involved and the basis upon which the divorce was granted but not the actual details of any alleged adultery or unreasonable behaviour. In reality though, the publication of information is very rare.

Can we continue living under the same roof whilst divorce proceedings are on-going?

In some cases it is impractical and unaffordable for the parties to a divorce to make alternative living arrangements. If you are going to continue to live under the same roof for more than 6 months then the Court will normally require you to show that you have been maintaining what are known as separate households i.e. that you are occupying separate bedrooms and making individual arrangements for cooking, shopping, eating and other domestic activities.

If you have family related issues and need to seek advice or need a solicitor to give you support then please do not hesitate to give on 020 8767 9090.

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