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If you are going through a divorce, the family law solicitors at JMW will provide friendly, easy-to-understand advice to help you secure the best possible outcome. We understand how difficult it can be to go through a divorce and we will provide the support you need.
Get in touch with our team today by calling us on 0800 652 5577 or by completing our online enquiry form, which will enable us to give you a call back at a convenient time to discuss your situation in more detail.
Going through a divorce can be stressful and upsetting, particularly when there are children involved. The breakdown of a marriage can leave both parties feeling distressed and worried about the future. The financial implications of a divorce are significant and it is important to get trustworthy and fair legal advice from an early stage.
Divorce can not only be difficult emotionally, it can also become technical and complex at times. We are here to explain the various aspects of the process, making sure you understand all that is going on as you progress through it.
You may need advice and guidance about arrangements for children and the financial aspects of your separation. Our team is on hand to help you find a sensible way through whatever issues arise and, ultimately, provide closure for you and your family.
A financial clean break order is a financial settlement ordered by the court that seeks to end all monetary claims between you and your partner and protects against any future claims made by either party. Find out more about financial clean break orders here.
A financial consent order sets out the financial agreement reached by a divorcing couple or a couple that has decided to dissolve their civil partnership, and its contents will be specific to the nature of your agreement and your individual financial circumstances. Find out more about financial consent orders here.
A formal, written separation agreement is an alternative means for separating couples to agree to certain money matters if there are reasons why an immediate divorce or dissolution is either not possible or undesirable. Find out more about these types of agreements with our short guide to separation agreements here.
Decree nisi and decree absolute are decrees that play important roles in a divorce. Find out more about the difference between the two here.
A relationship can break down for many reasons. In most cases, the court will not take into account the parties' conduct (e.g. infidelity or unreasonable behaviour) when deciding the financial settlement that should be put in place. However, find out more about how the courts deal with those rare instances of severe financial or other misconduct here.
The divorce process can be highly complex, and it is imperative you always seek the help of a professional and experienced legal team to guide you through. However, most divorces follow a similar path, and we have illustrated this with our interactive infographic. The handy infographic sets out the steps you can expect to take when going through either a divorce or civil partnership dissolution, and provides lots of useful information along the way.
The divorce process has changed markedly over the last few hundred years and it has been constantly amended to reflect wider social change. Our interactive infographic looks back over the history of divorce and social change in England and Wales since the early 1800s, providing lots of useful information and allowing you to chart the evolution of divorce over this time.
What happens to the children on divorce or dissolution?
If both parties agree the arrangements to be made following separation then the court will not interfere.
If you cannot agree, then we would advise that you speak to a member of our team who can assist you in negotiating an arrangement that is in the best interests of your child/children, potentially using alternative dispute resolution resources, such as mediation or collaborative law. If no agreement can be reached regarding the children, then either parent may make a formal application to the court to deal with any substantial issues.
For more information about children law, click here.
On what grounds could I issue the divorce?
There is only one ground for divorce or civil partnership dissolution and that is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership. A party must rely on one of five facts (or four in the case of civil partnership) to 'prove' the irretrievable breakdown. The factors are adultery (marriage only), unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation for a period of two years (if the other party consents) or separation for five years (no consent needed).
How long does a divorce or civil partnership dissolution take?
A divorce or dissolution can take between four to six months, provided the petition is undefended and is dealt with swiftly. However, if there is also an application for financial provision, then the decree absolute (or final order in the case of civil partnership dissolution) is often postponed until financial matters are settled, in which case the timescale will be extended.
Can I reach a financial settlement without a divorce?
It is possible for you to agree terms without a divorce and these terms can be set out in a separation agreement. However, you should bear in mind that a separation agreement is not legally binding in the same way as a financial court order and would not necessarily tie the court's hands in any future divorce proceedings. Without a divorce or civil partnership dissolution, it is not possible to obtain a final and binding financial order that will deal decisively with all financial matters into the future. A separation agreement can reduce the level of uncertainty but it is not a substitute for a financial consent order.
Find out more about separation agreements here.
How long will a financial settlement take to reach?
A financial settlement may be reached either by informal negotiations, solicitor-led negotiations, mediation, collaborative law or by starting court proceedings. If the parties are on relatively good terms and wish to deal with matters on a voluntary basis, with each party willing to provide disclosure as to capital assets, income and liabilities, a settlement could be turned into a formal court order (a financial consent order) within five to six months.
If a formal application is issued, the parties must follow a strict timetable set by the court. If the timetable is adhered to and the assets are relatively straightforward, it would take approximately 12 months to get to a final hearing. A settlement can of course be reached (and usually is reached) at a point before the court makes a decision at the final hearing. The process is set up positively to encourage this, leaving a court-determined outcome as an absolute last resort.
Find out more about financial settlements here.
I have been served with divorce papers. What should I do next?
If the paperwork has been processed correctly, you should receive notification of the date by which you need to have returned the acknowledgment of service to the court. This is a deceptively simple form, which can be highly significant in some cases. If there are any issues relating to jurisdiction (i.e. a disagreement or uncertainty as to which country the divorce should proceed in) or if there is a legal reason that means the divorce proceedings should be defended, then this form needs to be considered very carefully. Speak to a solicitor if you are in any doubt.
What is a decree nisi?
Decree nisi literally means 'decree unless'. It is the (rather antiquated) name given to the order the court makes when it has considered all the divorce papers and decided that the petitioner is entitled to a divorce. The petitioner can be divorced unless there is any technical reason why this should not happen. From the point of decree nisi onwards, the court can make a financial order but it does not become binding and enforceable until the decree absolute. Unless there is an exceptional reason for speeding up the process, the petitioner will have to wait six weeks and one day before applying for the decree absolute. In many cases, the parties will be advised to await the court's approval of the financial settlement before obtaining the decree absolute.
The civil partnership dissolution equivalent to the decree nisi is the 'conditional order'. Instead of a decree absolute, you will receive a final order.
Do I have to go to court to get a divorce?
Although divorces are granted by the court, for almost all couples this simply means that paperwork is sent to and from the relevant divorce centre of the family court and that the paperwork is overseen by an appropriate court official. Even though there may be a dispute regarding the financial settlement or arrangements for the children, neither party will have to attend court in relation to the actual divorce and doing so is a real rarity.
Does the reason for the divorce have any effect on the financial settlement?
In almost all cases, no. The court considering the financial settlement will not pay any attention as to whose 'fault' it was that the marriage broke down. The court does not make a moral judgment and accepts that the reasons for relationships coming to an end are subtle and complex. In a very tiny minority of cases, the behaviour of either party can alter the nature of the financial settlement in and of itself, but this is reserved for cases where there has been, for example, very serious criminality or severe financial misconduct.
The family law solicitors at JMW provide guidance in a friendly and easy-to-understand way throughout the entire process. We understand how difficult it can be to go through divorce, and will provide the support you need to make sure you get the best possible outcome.
Our dedicated family lawyers are here to make the process as hassle-free as possible. We are experts in this area of the law, and are absolutely dedicated to providing guidance that is easy to digest during what can be a testing period in your life.
By contacting us today, we can ensure you have all the information you need to start divorce proceedings. What's more, we will help to determine the best way forward for you.