Dealing with a broken marriage or relationship can be confusing and very distressing, so having the right people to turn to for help is crucial. With the support of our highly experienced divorce solicitors, divorce and separation can be made as easy as possible, keeping conflict to a minimum and allowing you to make a clean break.
Apart from dealing with the emotional upheaval this will bring, the situation can be even more daunting when you have to make arrangements for your children, sort out your living arrangements and divide your savings and property.
At HPJV Solicitors we are specialist divorce lawyers who understand the difficulties you face. We offer compassionate, straightforward advice on both the legal and practical issues involved in divorce. We can also advise you on where to access additional support if the need arises and make that referral, with your consent.
Making the decision to see a lawyer for the first time can be a big step for many and we understand that. We appreciate that you will have many questions and will be filled with uncertainty, so we aim to offer reassurance and answer your questions in a calm, friendly way without using legal jargon.
Speak to one of our expert divorce solicitors in Newport, South Wales today by calling 01633 242 526 or use the contact form on the right to ask a question.
How we can help you with divorce and separation
Our divorce law solicitors support people with all aspects of divorce and separation in Newport and across South East Wales.
We can guide you through the whole legal process of ending your marriage, helping things to progress as swiftly and smoothly as possible.
- Preparing and submitting a divorce petition
- Responding to a divorce petition
- Representing you in a divorce hearing (if required)
- Applying for a decree nisi
- Applying for a decree absolute
Examples of how we can help include making sure there are no errors in your divorce petition, which could see it rejected and force you to reapply, and ensuring you cite sufficient reasons for the breakdown of your marriage in your divorce petition, reducing the likelihood that a court will deny your application.
Untangling your finances is often the most complicated part of divorce or separation, so having expert advice and guidance is essential to ensure your short-term and long-term interests are taken into account.
We can help you negotiate a financial settlement with your ex-partner wherever possible, or suggest alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation and collaborative law if appropriate.
Where court action is the best or only option to achieve a settlement, however, we can offer the skilled support and representation you need to secure a fair outcome.
If you have children, sorting out where they will live and what contact a non-resident parent will have with them will typically be your top priority. This is an area where a non-confrontational approach can be particularly beneficial as it is almost always better for children if their parents can maintain an amicable relationship after separation.
As well as helping you to decide residence and contact issues, we can also advise on matters such as parental responsibility and taking children abroad, ensuring your children’s wellbeing and your rights as a parent are secured.
If you were not married or in a civil partnership, a separation agreement can allow you to formally agree how your finances will be divided and what the arrangements will be for any children you have together.
A separation agreement can also be used if you are married or in a civil partnership and want to try a trial separation or make a temporary agreement to deal with immediate issues while you work on agreeing a more permanent settlement.
Our divorce lawyers can offer a number of options to help you reach an amicable agreement over the practical issues arising from your divorce or separation, including financial settlements and arrangements for children.
Mediation – We have established relationships with a number of highly effective third-party mediators who can guide you and your former partner through discussing any issues that need to be sorted out while keeping conflict to a minimum. This is often the fastest and least expensive way to handle your divorce.
Collaborative law – Our team includes trained collaborative lawyers who can represent you in ‘round the table’ meetings with your ex-partner and their lawyer. This provides an opportunity to negotiate the details of your divorce in a co-operative way while giving both parties the benefit of their own lawyers’ expertise.
Common questions about divorce and separation
What are the grounds for divorce in the UK?
The only ground for divorce in the UK is that your marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. To show that this is the case, you will need to cite one of the following 5 reasons in your divorce petition:
Adultery – Where you spouse has been unfaithful with someone of the opposite sex (same-sex infidelity is currently classed as ‘unreasonably behaviour’).
Unreasonably behaviour – Where your spouse has behaved in such a way that you can no longer reasonably be expected to live with them. This can include issues such as spending too little time at home or not providing emotional support, as well as more serious issues, such as alcoholism or domestic violence.
Desertion – Where your spouse has left you without your agreement, without good reason and with the intention to end your relationship for at least 2 out of the last 2.5 years.
2 years’ separation – If your spouse agrees to the divorce.
5 years’ separation – Whether your spouse agrees to the divorce or not.
How long does it take to get divorced in the UK?
This will entirely depend on the circumstances, but for straightforward, undefended divorces, around 4-6 months is typical.
A divorce will generally progress faster if you and your spouse can maintain an amicable relationship and avoid the need for court action as this means you will not need to wait for a hearing date.
Is a pre-nuptial agreement legally binding?
Pre-nuptial agreements and post-nuptial agreements can be disregarded by a judge during a divorce hearing if they have good reason to do so, however, as long as the pre-nup or post-nup was correctly prepared and signed by both parties, it will normally be taken into consideration.
Do we need to make a financial agreement before getting divorced?
You can make an agreement on separating your finances at any time before, during or after the legal process of getting divorce.
However, it is generally advisable to make a divorce settlement prior to your decree nisi being issued. This is because you can ask the court to make a financial order at the same time as applying for the decree nisi.
Can we legally separate instead of getting divorced?
We appreciate that there may be many reasons why a person may not want to take steps to divorce and formally dissolve the marriage. This may be for religious reasons for example, or you wish to focus on the children and securing your home or where you may not feel ready to take that step just yet.
Should you choose to separate, then matters regarding the children and financial matters can be explored much in the same way as if you were going through the divorce process. However, any financial arrangements you make with your spouse cannot be made legally binding as this requires approval in a Court Order which can only be issued for a divorce. This could leave you vulnerable in the future.
If you choose to separate from your spouse, rather than divorcing, you will also not be free to remarry and your spouse will remain your legal next of kin.
We would invite anyone considering both options to arrange a meeting with us, where the pros and cons can be explained, and further questions can be answered.
How long will it take to get divorced?
On average the divorce process takes between 4-6 months, but each case is different. We recommend that your specific circumstances be explored to allow a more definite time estimate.
What do I need to prove to get divorced?
To get divorced, you do not necessarily have to produce evidence, however, you do have to convince the Court that your marriage has “irretrievably broken down”.
To establish this, there are five grounds that you can rely upon and you must be able prove at least one of them and set out the details in your divorce petition;
- Your spouse has committed adultery
- Your spouse has behaved unreasonably (unreasonable behaviour)
- Your spouse has deserted you for a period of 2 years
- You and your spouse have lived apart for at least 2 years and you both agree to a divorce
- You and your spouse have lived apart for at least 5 years.
I am in a same sex relationship, is the divorce process different?
No, so long as you have entered a Civil Partnership or Marriage then the divorce procedure is the same. However, it is worth noting that under current divorce laws, adultery is legally defined as infidelity with someone of the opposite sex which may impact the reasons you can give for the divorce in a divorce petition, depending on the circumstances.
How long do I have to be married before we can consider a divorce?
To start divorce proceedings, you must be married for at least one year. However, if the marriage has broken down before one year has lapsed and you want to take formal steps following separation, then there are other options available that can be explored.
Will I have to attend a Court hearing?
It is possible that you will need to attend a Court hearing, especially if there are issues about your children or financial matters that are linked to your divorce that cannot be resolved by agreement. This is unlikely for the divorce alone, save if there is a dispute about who should pay the costs of the divorce process.
My spouse refuses to sign for a divorce and said, “you can wait 5 years” what should I do?
If your spouse refuses to acknowledge the divorce petition by refusing to sign the Acknowledgement of Service form, then in many cases there are ways that you can proceed with the divorce by personally serving the divorce petition. This would depend on what reason you are relying on for the marriage breakdown. We would always recommend you seek advice so that you “can” achieve a divorce.
What is the Decree Nisi?
At the appropriate stage the Judge is asked to consider whether your marriage has irretrievably broken down and if this is agreed, the Court will grant the Decree Nisi which is the first Decree in the proceedings. It is unlikely you will be required to attend Court to secure the Decree Nisi.
What is Decree Absolute?
Decree Absolute is the final Decree granted by the Court which confirms that your marriage has officially been dissolved and you are also free to re marry.
How will our property and assets be divided?
Not every case is identical, so it is not possible to give a firm indication on what the outcome will be. However, many matters must be taken into account when determining what is a reasonable settlement in any individual case. Consideration must be given to how long you have been married, what assets you both own and for how long, your age, whether you have children and your requirement to secure a suitable home for your future needs.
The aim is always to secure a fair result, achieved without the need for lengthy and costly Court hearings, but maintaining the best outcome where possible. For more specific guidance we recommend a meeting with one of our Family team.
Can we both have the same solicitor?
Solicitors cannot act for both spouses in divorce proceedings and it is recommended that each spouse seek their own separate legal advice, otherwise a “conflict of interest” will exist which is not permitted.
Do I need a solicitor for divorce?
Seeking legal advice is always your choice. However, having the benefit of someone with legal expertise will reduce the burden during what is already a difficult time. Also, where there are children and financial matters to sort out then specialist legal advice is always highly recommended. A situation that may appear straight forward from the start can often become more complicated and it is crucial that you get the right outcome for you as this will affect your future security for you and your family.
We offer fixed legal fees for divorce, giving you clarity of the costs for the proceedings and allows you to pay for what level of advice you require.
How much does divorce cost?
We offer fixed fees for divorce matters, but these fees will vary based on whether you are the person starting the divorce process (Petitioner) or whether you have been served with a Divorce Petition (Respondent).
To issue the Divorce Petition at Court there is also a fee charged by the Court which depending on your financial circumstances can be exempt or reduced by the Court.
Legal fees for advising on children and financial matters will be charged in addition. The whole process and associated fees can be explored at a first meeting to give you a better understanding of the costs involved.
Can I make my ex-partner pay my legal fees for divorce?
If you are starting the divorce proceedings, you can ask the Court to order that your spouse be responsible for your legal costs and this claim should be contained in your Divorce Petition at the start of the proceedings. It is up to the Court to decide if Costs should be paid to you and this depends on whether your spouse challenges the request through the Court.
To limit unnecessary animosity however, it is usually sensible to reach an agreement on who should pay legal costs at the start. This helps to reduce future conflict which should be avoided where reasonable and possible to do so.
Can I secure Legal Aid to help with legal cost?
Despite what many people think, Legal Aid is still available in family cases to include divorce. However, the circumstances when it is available are limited and depends not only your financial position but other circumstances relating to your case. We always assess a person’s entitlement to Legal Aid at a first meeting and would always recommend you arrange a meeting where this can be discussed and explored in more detail.
Our expertise in divorce and separation
Our divorce lawyers in Newport have decades of experience helping individuals and families to deal with all of the legal issues involved in divorce and separation. We have the knowledge and skills to ensure even the most complex and contentious issues can be resolved effectively, protecting your interests and those of your loved ones.
Our team includes several Law Society accredited Family Law and Children Law specialists, as well as members of Resolution, a group of family lawyers committed to removing the conflict from divorce and family law.
We also have the support of our Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accredited property team, who can help with any of the property issues that often arise during divorce and separation, including buying or selling your home, remortgaging and transfer of ownership.
HPJV Solicitors is Lexcel accredited by the Law Society for the strength of our practice management and client care. We are independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Speak to our divorce law solicitors in Newport today
For more information or to speak to one of our divorce lawyers in Newport, South Wales please call us on: 01633 242 526