Going through a divorce is often very difficult and emotional. The following information is to provide you with a better understanding of the basics and what we can do to help.
Our Solicitors belong to Resolution, formerly the Solicitors Family Law Association. What this means for you is that we will endeavour to conduct your divorce by encouraging and assisting you and your spouse to achieve a swift and painless resolution of your differences as possible. A copy of the code of practice is available on request.
It is important to separate the process of divorce (dissolving your marriage) from the issues of children and finances, which will be dealt with separately by the Court and explained separately on this site should these issues are applicable to you.
We are often asked similar questions by many people and some answers are shown below:
Is divorce the only way?
No. We will also offer you information about local mediation services who can help with reconciliation.
Do I need a new Will?
Yes. If you have no Will and die before the divorce is made final your estranged spouse will receive a substantial legacy. If you have a Will you should review it as it may no longer accurately reflect your wishes.
How much does it cost?
The Court fee for starting divorce proceedings is £340 and there is a further fee of £45 payable to obtain the final decree confirming that you are divorced. If you are eligible for legal aid you may be entitled to a full or part exemption of the fees.
When can I get a divorce?
Once you have been married for one year.
What are the various grounds for a divorce?
Although the ground for divorce is "irretrievable breakdown of marriage", you can only apply for a divorce if you can establish one of the five facts of divorce:
- that your spouse has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable for you to continue living with them
- that your spouse has committed adultery
- that you and your spouse have lived apart for two years and agree to divorce
- that your spouse deserted you at least two years ago
- that you and your spouse have lived apart for at least five years, whether or not you both agree to divorce
What happens next?
The first step is for you to provide us with your marriage certificate and for us to draft a divorce petition (a request to the court for divorce). If there are children the court will also want to know that they are being looked after and we will need to complete a form called a Statement of Arrangements for this purpose. It is important to realise that this form has only that purpose and does not set in stone arrangements for the children, which can change throughout their lives.
We will send you a draft petition and Statement of Arrangements for Children. You check and sign these and return them to us.
We send two copies to the Court, who keep one set on file and send one set to your spouse within about ten days.
Your spouse has 14 days to return to the Court an Acknowledgement of Service form, which the Court then send on to us.
We then arrange to meet at a suitable time to complete a short affidavit. Another solicitor must swear your oath and they will charge £7.00. There is no charge for this if you take your affidavit to your local court office. This is your evidence to the court that what you have said about your marriage is true. It is therefore vital that you check the documents again to make sure nothing has changed. The court looks very carefully at the documents and it is very frustrating for you if they are returned because a change has been overlooked. This affidavit is then sent to the Court.
If your spouse does not return the acknowledgement form we need to prove to the court that they know about the divorce. If this happens we will advise you further. You need to know at the outset that this can delay the divorce. Because your spouse and the court can cause delays which we cannot control we cannot give you a date by which you will be divorced.
A District Judge considers the Petition and, if satisfied, writes to us giving the date when a Decree Nisi ("Decree Until...") will be made; this is normally within a month.
The Court read out a list of names of those seeking divorce in Court and send your Decree Nisi to you through us - there is no need to attend Court.
You are still married and the law provides two decrees to allow your spouse the chance to appeal. This does not usually happen.
You must wait six weeks before we send the court a request and £45 to obtain your final divorce decree ("decree absolute"). That is sent out by return and when you receive it you are single and free to remarry if you so wish.
Please note that you can stop proceedings at any time before the Decree Absolute.