We understand that most of our clients seek our advice about getting divorced as a last resort after the breakdown of their relationship, and it is often an extremely difficult time. We will always listen with empathy and without judgement, and help you understand the divorce process and your rights. Whether you have already decided to apply for divorce, or are just thinking about your options, we can talk to you about your next steps.
How do I get a divorce?
The divorce process involves several steps. These have changed since the introduction of no fault divorce in 2022. It is no longer necessary to demonstrate that one partner is at fault for the divorce, and there is no longer any right to contest a divorce.
1. Apply for divorce
The divorce application can be submitted by one spouse, or jointly by both partners. As part of the application, the applicant(s) must make a statement declaring that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. You no longer have to prove that one partner was at fault or provide a specific reason for the breakdown of the relationship.
2. Divorce proceedings
The court will issue the divorce, which legally starts the divorce process. Where there is a sole applicant, the other spouse is known as the respondent and will be served with a copy of the application. The respondent is required to acknowledge receipt of the application, but there is no longer any right to oppose the divorce
3. Conditional Order
You must wait for a minimum of 20 weeks after the application for the divorce (and acknowledgement by the respondent, if required) before you can make an application for the Conditional Order. The Conditional Order confirms that there are no legal reasons as to why the divorce should not go ahead.
4. Final Order
There is still a six week period after the Condition Order before the application for the Final Order can be made. The Final Order officially ends the marriage. We strongly advise not applying for the Final Order until any financial orders and child arrangements are in place.
Do I need a solicitor to get divorced?
Not necessarily. Anyone can apply for divorce, and the online application will take you through this process step by step. There are also resources available online which will provide more detailed information about how to do this yourself. There are however some parts of the divorce process where it may be worth taking advice from a legal expert, for instance if there are financial aspects of the marriage that need resolving, such as property, savings, businesses, pensions, and incomes
How much does it cost to get divorced?
There is a court fee to issue a divorce application. If you are on a low income or in receipt of benefits you may be eligible to apply to be remitted from paying part or all the court fee.
The court fee is paid by the party who is applying for the divorce when submitting the application with the court. The parties can come to an agreement themselves as to how this is funded. Some parties choose to split the cost equally. It is no longer possible to claim your costs for the divorce, however if the respondent does not deal with the acknowledgement of the proceedings it is possible to ask for a costs order for any extra costs involved ie personal/alternative service.
There will be legal fees if you choose to use a lawyer to manage your divorce process, or to negotiate and prepare a financial settlement.
Does the Final Order end any financial claims from our relationship?
The important thing to remember is that a divorce only ends the marriage (the legal relationship). Getting a divorce does not end the financial relationship created by of the marriage.
To legally end the financial relationship by agreement, a ‘clean financial break order’ is required. For this to be legally binding it needs to be submitted to the court with a summary of your financial positions and approved by a Judge. A clean financial break order dismisses all of the financial claims from the marriage, also, perhaps significantly, claims on any future finances and on each other’s estates in death. It should be noted that, many of the financial claims against your former spouse will be affected if you have not dealt with the assets from the marriage before marrying someone else .
Can we agree the financial aspects of the divorce ourselves?
Yes. There are many ways of coming to a resolution regarding your finances. Some people come to a private agreement, whilst others may choose to attend mediation which can support you in your communication and with the necessary financial disclosure. Some people choose to take legal advice and use solicitors for the negotiations, and for some it is necessary to use the court process to help them to reach a conclusion.
It can be tempting to save costs by making the financial agreement yourself, but there are a number of risks that should be considered before making this decision. The main points to remember is that in order to make any informed decision you will require financial disclosure between you and also that any agreement reached will not be legally binding until it is approved by the court. For a court to approve any financial agreement (consent order) there has to be limited disclosure of each parties’ finances.
Will I need to attend court to get a divorce?
There is no longer any right to contest a divorce, so it should not be necessary for anyone to attend court and it will be dealt with as a paper/online process.
If an application is issued at court for financial orders, then you will be expected to attend court for hearings until the proceedings reach a conclusion by way of agreement or, an order from the court.
What is the difference between divorce and annulment?
Annulment is an alternative to getting divorced if you can prove that the marriage is void or ‘voidable’. Unlike divorce, you can annul a marriage within the first year. Grounds for annulment include if one of the parties was under 16 years old or is already married, or if the parties are closely related. You can also annul a marriage if you did not properly consent to it, the marriage wasn’t consummated, or if one partner was pregnant by someone else or had a sexually transmitted disease when they got married.
Contact us to discuss your case with a member of our separation and divorce team.
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