If you are having problems in your marriage or partnership, you should first consider whether these difficulties can be resolved with the assistance of trained relationship counsellors.
Organisations such as Relate can help you. Even if you are not certain whether you want to end the marriage or partnership at this stage, you may find early legal advice from one of our team invaluable.
If you do decide to divorce or dissolve your partnership, then any of the team will be able to advise and guide you through the process since the practice only employs highly specialist family lawyers.
To provide some general information, a divorce can only be applied for once you have been married for at least 1 year. To obtain a divorce in England and Wales, the marriage must be recognised as valid under English law. Where one or both parties are living outside of England and Wales but want divorce proceedings issuing here, jurisdiction must be established and you may need specialist legal advice before knowing whether the English courts do have jurisdiction to handle your proceedings or not.
The marriage must have broken down irretrievably and must be supported by one of the following factors:
a) Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live together or;
b) Your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably he expected to live together or;
c) You have been separated for two years and your spouse agrees to the divorce or;
d) You have been separated for five years or;
e) Your spouse deserted you for more than two years.
If more than one of the above reasons applies, the team can advise you on which is most suitable to your circumstances and what information the court will need. They will also advise you about whether you should be seeking an order that your spouse pays the costs of your proceedings or not or whether the costs should be shared.
The Court Process:
The Divorce is commenced by sending to the court the Petition along with your Marriage Certificate. The court fee is currently £550.00.
Once the Divorce papers have been sealed and approved by the court a copy of the Divorce Petition will be sent to your spouse who is then required to complete an Acknowledgment of Service form saying whether or not he/she agrees to the Divorce. Provided he/she does not contest it, you will then have to complete a Statement confirming the facts set out in your Divorce Petition and asking the court to allow your proceedings to progress to Decree Nisi. If the court is satisfied that you should be entitled to the Decree sought, a date will be set for the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi (the first stage in the Divorce Proceedings).
Six weeks and one day after the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi you will be in a position to submit an application for the Decree Nisi to be made Absolute thus ending the marriage.
If the Divorce is defended, the position is much more complex and directions will be made for filing of evidence and the matter will then be set down for trial/final hearing.
You will also need to sort out financial matters relating to the family home, child or spousal maintenance, pensions and any savings and investments. Most agreements are reached out of court with the help of your family Solicitor. However, for some court proceedings are necessary. The legal term for these proceedings used to be called Ancillary Relief but are now referred to as Applications for Financial Orders. You can get more information about the financial aspects of divorce on this website by clicking on the link “Divorce Settlements.”
One final word, although divorce proceedings may seem straightforward, they are not and often things can go wrong if you try to draft your own divorce papers without fully understanding the legal and technical issues that can arise. For that reason, it really does make sense to get initial advice through a family lawyer who will then help you to decide whether you want to manage your own proceedings or whether it is better to let the lawyer do the drafting work for you to avoid unnecessary delay or error which can lead to extra court fees being charged to you if you do get it wrong.