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FAQS on Divorce

What is a divorce?

Divorce is the dissolution or end of a marriage. The process is started by filing a divorce petition with the Court and is ended when the Court issues a decree absolute. A divorce can only be applied for after one full year of marriage. Divorce can be applied for online or by post and the fee for the application if £550.

What are the grounds for divorce?

There is only one ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has “irretrievably broken down”. Before granting a decree, the Court must be satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably down. The party seeking to dissolve the marriage (the applicant) must also prove that one or more of the five “facts” set out in s1(2) Matrimonial Causes Act 2973 have occurred or the ground for divorce will not be made out.

The five “facts” are as follows:-

  • Adultery
  • Behaviour (otherwise known as unreasonable behaviour)
  • Desertion
  • Two years’ separation with consent
  • Five years separation
  • How much does a divorce cost?

    The Court fee for commencing divorce proceedings is currently £550. If you are in receipt of certain benefits or have a low income it may be possible to obtain an exemption from the Court fee or a reduction in the amount payable.

    We deal with the entire process for a standard, non-defended divorce on a fixed fee basis charged at £1,000 plus VAT (the Court fee above applies in addition).

    If you are the Respondent to divorce proceedings, we charge a fixed fee for dealing with the entire process for a standard, non-defended divorce of £500 plus VAT.

    In situations where the divorce is not straight forward, for example if the whereabouts of the other party is unknown or the process is defended by your spouse, the above fees may require amendment.

    What is a divorce petition?

    A divorce petition is an application to the Court to dissolve a marriage. The application is the central document in the case and is filed by the spouse seeking the divorce (the applicant) and is served on the other spouse (the respondent). Every divorce must be started by a divorce petition (application). The petition is filed in a Court in the Country where one of the spouses reside irrespective of where the marriage occurred.

    A divorce petition will set out details of the applicant and respondent including the full names of both parties by which they are currently known, their addresses and details of when and where the marriage took place. It will also confirm whether or not the applicant wishes the Court to deal with the finances to the marriage.

    What is a divorce settlement?

    A divorce settlement is the financial agreement reached between parties as to how the marital assets and debts should be shared between them. A divorce settlement is often referred to as a consent order as this is the document which records the financial agreement reached and is lodged with the Court half way through the divorce process for approval by a Judge. Once the consent order has been approved by the Court it becomes legally binding upon the parties.

    How do you get divorced?

    In order to commence divorce proceedings, a divorce petition must be filed with the Court. The divorce Petition sets out that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and this must be proved based upon one of the five following facts:-

    1. Adultery;
    2. Unreasonable behaviour;
    3. 2 years separation with consent;
    4. 5 years separation (no consent required); or
    5. Desertion.

    We offer a free first appointment to all new clients during which, will take full details of your situation and provide you with a clear advice as to the most suitable fact of divorce for you.

    What is a divorce certificate?

    A divorce certificate is also known as a decree absolute.

    A decree absolute is the final court order in divorce proceedings. It is required to dissolve a marriage.

    Decree absolute confirms that you are now legally divorced and replaces your marriage certificate.

    You should keep the decree absolute in a safe place as it will be required if you wish to remarry in the future (or change your name).

    How to get a divorce certificate?

    If you are the Petitioner, you can apply for decree absolute six weeks and one day after the date that the decree nisi was granted.

    You may want to delay an application for decree absolute if you have not yet reached an agreement with your former partner about your finances and children. This is because there may be inheritance or pension implications once you are no longer married to one another. An interest in the family home may also be affected.

    Applying for decree absolute involves you filling out a short form and returning it to the Court.

    When decree absolute is made, the marriage is legally dissolved.

    If you are the Respondent, you can apply for decree absolute three months after the earliest date on which the Petitioner could have obtained the decree absolute (six weeks after decree nisi). This means waiting a period of four and a half months.

    What is a divorce decree?

    The granting of a decree of divorce has two stages:

    Decree nisi : this is a decree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and that it will be terminated unless sufficient cause is shown not to. It does not end the marriage. It is a provisional decree of divorce pronounced when the court is satisfied that the applicant has met both the legal and procedural requirements to enable them to obtain a divorce.
    Decree absolute : this ends the marriage and both parties are free to remarry. A minimum period of 6 weeks and 1 day must elapse between the date of the decree nisi and applying for decree absolute.

    What is a divorce nisi?

    A divorce nisi is known as a decree nisi. It is a decree made by a Judge confirming that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and that it will be terminated unless sufficient cause is shown not to. It does not end the marriage. It is a provisional decree of divorce pronounced when the court is satisfied that the applicant has met both the legal and procedural requirements to enable them to obtain a divorce.

    Without a decree nisi having been granted, the Court has no power to make a financial order. Accordingly, before the Court can make a financial order, a decree nisi must be in place. A decree nisi is therefore not only an important stage in the divorce process but is also of significance when dealing with a financial application on divorce.

    How do you file for divorce?

    The divorce process is started by one party filling out a form called the divorce petition. This party will then be known as the petitioner for the purposes of the divorce proceedings. The petition is then sent to the court along with your marriage certificate and the court fee of £550.

    The divorce petition includes information such as both you and your spouse’s full names and addresses, which of the five facts of divorce you will be relying on and details of your spouse’s solicitors if known. The court will then issue the petition and send a copy to your spouse or their solicitors with a form called an acknowledgement of service form. Your spouse will then have 14 days in which to complete this form and return it to you or your solicitors.

    What is a divorce consent order?

    A consent order is the document which is sets out how you and your spouse are to split assets on divorce and the details of any future or ongoing payments from one party to another. Once you have reached an agreement, the applicant’s solicitor will draft this and send it to the respondent’s solicitor for their approval. The consent order must be signed by both parties in order to show their agreement and it will be sealed by the court to make it legally binding. The court can only approve the consent order if the divorce process has been started and decree nisi has been pronounced.

    A statement of information form called form D81 must also be completed by each party and sent to the court with the proposed order. This form gives an overview of the parties’ finances to the court to assist them in deciding whether they consider the order to be fair or not.

    What is a separation agreement?

    A separation agreement is a document recording the agreement reached when two individuals in a relationship decide to separate. It is not binding in the same way as a Court Order. It is a heavily persuasive document and a clear statement of intent for both parties. For married couples it is used where parties wish to separate and put in place financial arrangements with a view to divorcing in the future and incorporating those arrangements into a Court Order at that time. For cohabiting couples it is used to record the parties intentions and agreements as to how to deal with joint assets to make separation as straightforward and clear as possible without the need for Court proceedings.

    What is Family Mediation?

    Mediation can be one of the most cost effective forms of negotiating any family law issue. We recommend that a mediator who has a legal background is instructed to ensure that they will assist you in reaching an agreement that would be approved by a Court and is compatible with any relevant legal principles.

    Mediators are impartial and are unable to provide either of you with legal advice. Their role is to assist you in negotiating a particular point or series of issues in the hope that an agreement can be reached. Agreements reached in mediation are not binding and should be formally recorded within solicitor’s correspondence or a Consent Order after the mediation process has concluded.

    Mediation can be conducted on a face to face basis whereby you both sit around a table with your mediator to discuss matters or an a ‘shuttle’ basis which entails you both being in separate rooms and the mediator will shuttle between you to progress negotiations.