Divorce Law FAQs

I am not sure whether I should divorce or just separate and sort out our finances first?

A divorce dissolves your marriage legally, meaning you are free to marry again. To secure a divorce you must issue a divorce petition at Court, although it is unlikely you will need to attend a Court hearing. If you reach a financial agreement during the divorce process you can ask the Court to approve it with a formal Court order making it legally binding.

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 just 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, a financial settlement is dependent on an agreement being reached and you will not be able to secure an agreement as this requires approval in a Court Order. This could leave you vulnerable in the future. You are also not free to remarry, and your spouse remains your 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, adultery is not a cause that you can rely on as a reason for the breakdown.

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?

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 will the 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.

For further information please refer to our dedication fixed fees page.

Can I make my ex-partner pay my legal fees?

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.


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