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Divorce and separation

Sensitive and pragmatic legal advice for clients going through a separation or divorce, including same-sex divorce and civil partnership dissolution.

We recognise that the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership is a huge event for any individual to come to terms with, with an impact that goes beyond domestic and financial arrangements.

Whether you're considering a divorce or separation and want to find out what's involved, or your  partner has started proceedings and you want to know what happens next, our expert solicitors can give the legal advice you need. We will provide advice and support to guide you through the divorce or dissolution process with as little distress as possible.

As members of Resolution, the family law association promoting a non-confrontational approach to family law issues, we encourage our clients to maintain a constructive dialogue in the interests of preserving a respectful ongoing relationship, which is  crucial in cases where children are involved. In our experience, this approach is more cost effective than litigation – although when necessary we'll advise you on pursuing a court-based settlement.

We offer a 30 minute consultation without charge on divorce and separation matters.

Frequently asked questions

  • What do I need to do to get a divorce?

    We provide a free 30 minute consultation where we will discuss all your options with you. If you have been married for more than a year and either you or your spouse live in England and Wales, then it is open to you to seek a divorce. If neither you nor your spouse live in England or Wales, the court may not be able to deal with your divorce. It is important to establish that the court has jurisdiction so if you are in any doubt speak to one of our family law solicitors. 

    The ground for divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and in order to prove this you must rely on one of five facts these are:

    1. Adultery.
    2. Unreasonable behaviour.
    3. Separation for 2 years with both parties' consent.
    4. Separation for 5 years without the other person's consent.
    5. Desertion.

    Our divorce solicitors can advise you on the best option for you and the best way of ensuring that the divorce proceeds smoothly without any objection from your partner. 

  • What documents do I need to file a divorce petition?

    In order to file a divorce petition, the court require your original marriage certificate or a certified copy which can be obtained from the General Register Office. There is also a court fee payable to the court when a Petition is filed which currently stands at £550.

    If you have children, it is important to consider how they will be cared for following your divorce. The court will require a form called a Statement of Arrangements for Children to be completed setting out these details. We will also prepare a divorce petition for you stating upon which fact you believe the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

  • How long does a divorce take?

    The time a divorce takes to conclude can vary widely, however our specialist divorce solicitors will keep you fully updated in order to reduce the stress and worry that you may be feeling. Typically, we estimate from filing a petition to obtaining Decree Absolute takes between 4 and 6 months provided you and your spouse complete the necessary paperwork and file it with the court without delay.

    Once your spouse has acknowledged the divorce proceedings and is not defending the divorce, we will prepare all of the necessary documentation to obtain your Decree Nisi to include the necessary statement in support of your petition.  Once we have obtained your Decree Nisi, it is open to the court to consider any financial settlement that has been reached.

    Our family law solicitors are also experts in negotiating beneficial financial settlements and this advice can be provided alongside the divorce process. 

  • When am I considered divorced?

    The Decree Absolute is the final stage of the divorce proceedings and this can be applied for 6 weeks and 1 day after the Decree Nisi.  If your spouse is the person who has filed the petition but they have not applied for Decree Absolute then after a further 3 months you are able to make an application for Decree Absolute.  The court will grant the application unless there is good reason not to do so.  Examples of which are that financial issues have not been resolved.

    Our divorce solicitors will advise you on when to make the application as often it is in your interest to delay it especially if there are outstanding financial issues to be resolved.  Once the Decree Absolute has been granted, the marriage is at an end and both parties are free to remarry if they wish.

  • The property is owned in my sole name, does my partner have an interest?

    If your home is owned in the sole name of you or your partner and either party wishes to establish an interest in it, there are complex issues to consider as that party will need to establish the existence of a resulting or constructive trust, or proprietary estoppel.  It is not possible to establish an interest just as a result of having lived in the property for a period of time. 

    Resulting trusts can be established by a direct contribution to the purchase price by the non-legal owner.  We can advise you on whether any contribution you or your partner has made will be sufficient to establish a resulting trust and the likely share of the property they will receive.

    A constructive trust can be established if it can be shown that both parties intended to share ownership of the property despite it being in one party's sole name and that one party acted to their detriment on the basis of this intention.  There are a number of considerations for both establishing a common intention as well as detrimental reliance, such as conversations you have had with your partner, the reasons why the property is in one party's sole name, payments made towards the mortgage, financial contributions towards improvements to the property or actually working on such improvements.  Usually, normal household duties or a contribution to household expenses will not be sufficient. 

    Our family law solicitors have extensive experience in this area and can advise you on whether any contribution you or your partner has made and whether in your particular circumstances there is any prospect of establishing a constructive trust. 

  • Can I stay in the property?

    If you do not have any legal or beneficial interest in the property our family law solicitors can advise you on whether you have any prospect of continuing to reside there by way of a licence or in circumstances of domestic violence.  Otherwise you may have no legal right to remain in the property and could be excluded on being given reasonable notice. 

  • Who owns the furniture and possessions in the house?

    The division of belongings after a relationship breaks down can be a difficult process.  Usually anything purchased by one party will remain in their ownership but items bought jointly can be more difficult to deal with.  We can advise you on how best to approach these issues to reach a sensible solution. 

  • Will my partner have to pay me maintenance?

    Unlike a married couple, if a cohabiting couple separate there is no legal obligation to provide any financial support to your partner over and above any child maintenance that may be appropriate.  This is the case regardless of the history of the relationship and despite the fact that one party might have been wholly financially dependent on the other.  For this reason it becomes even more important that your position is protected in respect of your property. 

  • We are not married does this affect our children?

    If a child's parents are not married, although this makes no difference to the day to day care of the child whilst the parents are cohabiting, there are legal differences which alter the position if the parents separate.  We understand that making the appropriate arrangements for your children can be the most difficult aspect of the breakdown of a relationship and our family law solicitors will always provide sensitive and clear advice, see our section on children. 

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