Solicitor Rebecca Ledgerwood, in our leading Family Law team, answers five common questions relating to divorce.
When should you first see a solicitor?
In an ideal world you should see a solicitor when you are first considering separating. An appointment with a specialist family solicitor does not mean that you must proceed with a divorce immediately but it can act as fact finding process to help you understand your position and what the future may look like enabling you to make an informed decision.
What are the main grounds for a divorce?
There is only one ground for divorce being that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. To satisfy the Court that this has happened it is necessary to rely on one or more of the following ‘facts’: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years’ separation with consent, five years’ separation, desertion. Adultery cannot be used as a fact for the breakdown of civil partnerships or same sex marriages.
What is the divorce process?
The divorce process is a straight forward paper based exercise. Providing it is undefended there is no requirement for either party to attend Court.
One spouse, known as the Petitioner, will complete a divorce Petition. The Petition will be sent by the Court to the Respondent spouse who will be asked to complete an Acknowledgement of Service. Once this has been filed by the Respondent, the Petitioner will make their application for Decree Nisi. Decree Nisi is the first decree in divorce proceedings. The Decree Nisi does not terminate your marriage, it is an indication that there are sufficient grounds for the divorce to proceed.
Once six weeks and one day have passed from the date of pronouncement of Decree Nisi, the Petitioner can apply for the Decree Nisi to be made Absolute; this will dissolve the marriage.
Often it is advisable not to apply for Decree Absolute until resolution of any financial matters. Resolving family finances is a separate procedure to simply obtaining the divorce. In most cases they run concurrently with one another.
What is the cost of a divorce?
The cost of obtaining a divorce varies but Blandy & Blandy offer a fixed-fee option for £1,350 inclusive of VAT. This covers the cost of drafting the Petition, applying for Decree Nisi and Absolute together with the £550 Court fee. Fees for resolving finances are separate.
How long does it take?
On average, from start to finish you are looking at 6 - 8 months. Where the financial arrangements are also being resolve the process can take a bit longer.
For further information or legal advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0118 951 6800.
Since this article was written, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 has come into force which brings a ‘no fault’ divorce system to England and Wales from 6 April 2022. For further details, please see our blog article ‘No Fault Divorce’ - A Practical Guide’ and/or contact a member of our Family Law team for further advice. This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.