Divorce and Financial Settlement Solicitors
Getting divorced usually gives rise to a number of practical issues, as well as having to deal with the emotional impact of your marriage ending. Making a financial settlement can be relatively straightforward or much more challenging depending on your circumstances, but it is always recommended to seek specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
Our experienced team of family lawyers understand the difficulties you face at the end of a relationship in sorting out arrangements about the family home, paying the bills and future arrangements for your income and/or the care of the children.
We are able to help steer you through this difficult time and, through negotiation, enable you to reach agreement with your ex-partner, allowing you to avoid the need for court proceedings in most cases.
Our approachable and pragmatic divorce lawyers can assist with initiating or responding to divorce proceedings, as well as helping you to get a fair financial settlement that meets your needs. We also have strong expertise in disputes related to children during or following divorce.
In addition to offering our own legal expertise, we work with a range of professionals that can help you at this difficult time. For example, we can refer you to highly experienced divorce counsellors who can help you to deal with the emotional impact of your divorce, as well as pensions and financial advisers who can assist you with planning your future financial arrangements.
Our divorce and financial settlements services
We can start and progress your divorce at the same time as negotiating your financial settlement. You may be making an application with your spouse (a ‘joint application’) or applying for a divorce by yourself (a ‘sole application’). Either way, our divorce solicitors can guide you through every stage of the process, helping your divorce to go ahead faster and with less stress.
Our divorce solicitors can help you with preparing your divorce application, responding to a divorce application by your spouse, applying for the Conditional Order (formerly the ‘Decree Nisi’) and applying for the Final Order (formerly the ‘Decree Absolute’).
We can also advise on the full implications of your divorce for your life, including your finances and any children you have.
We have strong expertise in negotiating financial settlements, as well as using options such as mediation to achieve a voluntary agreement on separating your finances. However, we also have strong court experience, so where necessary, we can provide the robust representation you need to get a fair outcome in court.
Our divorce financial settlement experts can ensure all of your needs and all relevant assets are considered, including what happens to your family home, savings, investments, business interests and pensions.
Ideally, you will be divorced and have resolved all financial issues between you and your ex by the time you are ready to apply for your Final Order (formerly known as the ‘Decree Absolute’).
Mediation for divorce
To try to facilitate agreement or at least narrow the issues of disagreement, we can refer you to our local mediator or offer you mediation at our firm.
Mediation involves you and your spouse meeting with a trained mediator, who acts as a neutral third party to help you agree a financial settlement. They can also assist with other practical issues, such as arrangements for children.
The key advantages of mediation are that it is usually much faster than court proceedings with lower legal costs involved. It also helps to keep things more amicable between you and your ex, keeps the details of your divorce private and lets you stay in control of decisions about your future.
For more information, please take a look at our mediation services.
Divorce court proceedings
Our family lawyers have years of divorce court experience, so if a voluntary agreement cannot be reached between you and your spouse, we support you through every stage of formal proceedings.
As well as ensuring your case is put together and presented to the court in the most effective way, we can also work with you to prepare you for court so you feel comfortable in the court process and understand how court works and what happens at each hearing.
What are the grounds for divorce?
There is only one grounds for divorce under current English law i.e. that your marriage has permanently broken down.
Previously, you had to cite one of five accepted reasons for this in your divorce application, but this is no longer the case. Thanks to the introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorce in April 2022, you now simply need to include a ‘statement of irretrievable breakdown’ in your divorce application in order to be granted a divorce.
Under the old divorce rules, the five accepted reasons for divorce were:
- Adultery – Where your spouse had been unfaithful with someone of the opposite sex.
- Unreasonable behaviour – Where you could no longer reasonably be expected to keep living with your spouse.
- Desertion – Where your spouse had left you for at least two years out of the last two and half years without a good reason, without your agreement and with the intention to end your relationship.
- Separation for at least 2 years – Where you had lived separately for 2 years or more and your spouse agreed to the divorce.
- Separation for at least 5 years – Where you had lived separately for 5 years or more, whether your spouse agreed to the divorce or not.
Under the first three of these reasons, it was necessary for one spouse to ‘take the blame’ for the divorce. The final two required you to wait years. The new no-fault divorce rules are intended to remove the potential for conflict by avoiding the need to assign blame or to wait a long time to divorce.
How long does it take to get divorced?
It now takes a minimum of 26 weeks (6 months) to get divorced. This is due to the introduction of a new 20-week wait before you can apply for the interim Conditional Order needed to progress your divorce. This comes on top of the pre-existing 6-week wait after the Conditional Order has been granted before you can apply for the Final Order which legally ends your marriage.
What other changes are there to UK divorce law in 2022?
Divorce law in England and Wales changed on 6 April 2022 when the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 came into force. As well as introducing no-fault divorce and a new minimum timeframe for divorce, other changes are:
- It is now no longer possible to oppose a divorce application made by your spouse (except in very limited circumstances where the court does not have jurisdiction to deal with your divorce)
- You and your spouse can now apply for a divorce together (a ‘joint application’) but one spouse can still apply alone (a ‘sole application’)
- Key terminology has been updated into plain English:
- Divorce Petition becomes Divorce Application
- Petitioner (the one applying for the divorce) becomes the ‘Applicant’
- Decree Nisi becomes the Conditional Order
- Decree Absolute becomes the Final Order
Can I get divorced in the UK if I married abroad?
Even if you did not get married in England or Wales, you may still be able to start divorce proceedings here if one or more of the following applies:
- You and your spouse were normally resident in England or Wales and at least one of you still is
- You have been normally resident in England or Wales for at least one year, even if you and your spouse previously lived abroad
- You are domiciled in England or Wales and have been normally resident here for at least 6 months
- Both you and your spouse are currently domiciled in England or Wales
If you are unsure whether you qualify for divorce in England or Wales, please get in touch and our team will be happy to advise you.