Obtaining a UK divorce is usually quite simple, particularly if you both agree. Our experienced divorce lawyers can guide you through the process and help you with the more tricky aspects of divorce such as: where to live and protecting the family home; arrangements over the children including custody, access and maintenance; and your finances and divorce settlement.
Grounds for Getting Divorced
In England and Wales you are eligible for a divorce if:
- You have been married for at least one year.
- You can prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
To prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down you have to prove one of the following:
- Your spouse has committed adultery.
- Your spouse has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to go on living together.
- Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of two years.
- You and your spouse have lived apart for two years or more and your spouse consents.
- You and your spouse have lived apart for five years or more whether or not your spouse consents.
Procedure for Getting Divorced
The first step when getting divorced is to obtain a form called a Divorce Petition. If possible it is a good idea to obtain your spouse's prior consent to a Petition being filed as this may help to keep things amicable throughout the proceedings. Your divorce solicitor may be able to reach agreement over the form the Petition should take.
If you have children, you will also require a form called Statement of Arrangements for Children.
Next Steps in Getting Divorced
Once the Divorce Petition has been completed the next stages are as follows:
- The Court serves the Petition together with the Statement of Arrangements for Children (if applicable) and an Acknowledgment of Service on the Respondent.
- Within 8 days the Respondent should file the Acknowledgment of Service. The Court sends the Petitioner a copy of the acknowledgement filed by the Respondent.
- The Petitioner's divorce solicitor prepares an application for Decree Nisi including an Affidavit for the Petitioner to swear confirming that the contents of the Petition and Statement of Arrangements are true. Both the Petitioner and Respondent are then advised of the date fixed for the Decree Nisi. The date is likely to be a few weeks after the application was lodged.
- 6 weeks and 1 day after the Decree Nisi the Petitioner may apply for the Decree Absolute. The Decree Absolute cannot be made until the District Judge has granted a certificate that he is satisfied with the arrangements for the children, which he/she will have checked in step 3 above.
The reason for this is that when a Decree Absolute is made, spouses are no longer man and wife. If one spouse who has a pension dies, then the other "ex spouse" may well have lost valuable widow(er)'s pension for all time. Similarly on remarriage you can lose the right to claim for financial provision unless you have already applied to the Court and your claims are outstanding.
Very often financial settlements will not have been completed by the time Decree Absolute is granted. Your divorce solicitor will explain to you the implications of the Decree Absolute - for example with regard to National Insurance Contributions, pension entitlement and the protection of your rights to occupy the matrimonial home if it is not in joint names. It is highly recommended that you use a divorce lawyer to assist you with your financial arrangements, which can be complex and may take time to complete. See our Property & Finances page for more information.
How To Fund Your Divorce
The cost of a divorce or separation can add to the worry and anxiety at an already difficult time. At The Family Law Co. by Hartnell Chanot & partners, we are committed to providing a frank and transparent approach to costs, including giving an estimate of the likely costs of your case together with regular updates so as to help you budget as your case proceeds. We aim to give clear and pragmatic advice and to achieve a solution that is cost effective and constructive.
There are a number of options which are available for funding the cost of a divorce and some examples are listed here.
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