Separation & Divorce

Sympathetic legal advice

For divorce and separations

It is a sad fact in this country that about 1 in 3 marriages now end in divorce. If you are considering divorce, it is important to consult a specialist family solicitor as early as possible. This does not mean that any divorce is certain, it is just better to understand your legal position from the outset.

The solicitor's advice will cover such considerations as rights over family assets, including personal possessions and property, arrangements for the children and the financial implications for you and your family. Their involvement, and the administration of the divorce process itself, will be largely determined by your and your partner's ability to reach agreement on these matters.

Once you know your rights, you need to understand the divorce procedure.

When getting divorced, you need to prove to the Court the reason or reasons why you want the marriage to end. There is strictly only one ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down; this must be based on one of five facts:

  • Separation for two years with the other party consenting to the divorce;
  • Separation over five years where consent is not required;
  • Adultery by the other party;
  • Unreasonable behaviour;
  • Desertion.

These must be proved by the person seeking the divorce. It will speed things up if your spouse agrees with the reasons that you want to use.

With the facts established, you or your spouse will need to make a formal divorce application to court, this is called the 'divorce petition'. Once the other party (the one that didn't initially make the application) has informed the court that they agree to the divorce, you can apply for a 'decree nisi', which is a document that says the court sees no reason why you can't divorce. Having obtained this, you look to get a 'decree absolute', which is the document that legally ends your marriage. Once you have it, you are officially divorced.

If you initiated the divorce then you can apply for a decree absolute six weeks after the court issues the decree nisi. If your spouse started the divorce, you can apply for a decree absolute after an additional three months (if your spouse has not done so already).

It is not possible to petition for divorce during the first year of marriage. This does not, however, prevent you applying for an annulment or judicial separation action. The Court fees will also apply for the issue of the Petition and the Decree Absolute. Please ask for details.

If you find difficulty in agreeing on these or other matters, mediation can save you time and money. A mediator is an independent person who will work with both of you to reach an agreement. They won't take sides and will keep your discussions confidential.