When considering divorce and separation, there are a number of matters that can cause concern, not least the emotional turmoil that you may be experiencing as a result of the breakdown of your relationship.
This article aims to provide clarification with regards to divorce to assist you when considering your options. There is no one size fits all when considering divorce proceedings however having an understanding of the process is likely to provide reassurance on what to expect.
Do you have any questions about divorce? Contact us today for your free 30 minute consultation.
Topics to be answered in this article
The first step you will need to consider is whether the relationship has broken down to the extent that you wish to file for divorce. If you have made that decision, then you will need to file a petition for divorce with the court. You will have to have been married for one year prior to issuing the petition. You will also need your marriage certificate to draft the petition.
There is only one ground in England and Wales for divorce and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This needs to be proven to the court by reference to one of a series of facts.
Currently, you must rely on one of five facts currently available:
Two years’ separation with the other party’s consent
Two years desertion
Five years separation
That is set to change on 6th April 2022 where the ground for divorce will remain irretrievable breakdown, but you will no longer have to rely on one of the 5 facts set out above.
It is preferable to agree the basis of the divorce before starting the process at court and that is something we can advise on and help with.
To start the process, the petition is sent to the court by one party (the petitioner), either by post or online with payment of the court fee, now £593. A copy is then sent to the other person (the respondent) and they have 7 days to acknowledge receipt. The court will need to know that your spouse has had notice of the proceedings.
Once the petition has been acknowledged, the petitioner will be able to apply for the decree nisi which is the first stage of the divorce proceedings. When applying for that a statement in support of the petition needs to be completed, confirming that a desire to proceed. A judge will then review the case and, if the ground for divorce is accepted, a date for pronouncement of decree nisi will be given.
Six weeks and a day after the decree nisi is pronounced, the petitioner can apply for the decree absolute finalising your divorce. If you are the respondent in the proceedings you are able to apply for the decree absolute to be pronounced 4 and a half months following the decree nisi by giving notice to the petitioner.
Before applying to finalise the divorce, consideration of your financial settlement will need to be given. It is only when your decree nisi is pronounced that you will be able to submit a financial agreement to the court for approval.
Upon pronouncement of the decree absolute, the marriage is brought to an end and the couple will be legally divorced.
Costs and timescales
A typical divorce usually takes between three to six months depending on how quickly the matter is dealt with by all parties.
The court fee is payable in the majority of cases and this is £593. If a solicitor is instructed, their costs will be in addition to this and those costs will vary depending on whether you are a petitioner or respondent in the divorce.
It is common for the parties to agree who is responsible for the costs before the process is started.
Additional costs may be incurred where, for example, a spouse fails to acknowledge the proceedings or in the event that the proceedings are defended. We will be able to guide you through the process in the event that this occurs.
Once the decree absolute has been pronounced, amending your Will should be a priority. You should have already considered with your lawyer the need for a financial order to be in place severing your financial responsibilities between each other and allowing you both to move on to financial independence.
Here at Goughs, our Divorce & Family Department have the expertise needed to navigate you through this difficult time. We provide a tailored service and support you throughout the process. We offer free consultations across our seven offices in Wiltshire; if you would like to find out more about how Goughs can help you, fill in the form below.
Alternatively, for your free initial family consultation, please click here.