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The most frequently asked questions about divorce

Written by Lindsay Bell

Each year in the UK around 100,000 couples apply to be divorced. Other couples have reasons why they do not want to divorce and so they prefer to have a separation instead. Divorce can sometimes be a stressful and difficult time, but with some basic information to hand it can be much easier to approach.  Our specialist divorce solicitor in Middlesbrough, Lindsay Bell tries to answer some of the most common questions she hears from divorce clients.

How soon can I get divorced?

You must have been married for one full year before you are permitted to submit a divorce application to Court.

What documents do I need?

Divorce application forms (known as a divorce petition) can be found online at the gov.uk website, just search for ‘divorce’. You will need to be able to provide your original marriage certificate (or obtain a new official copy from the register office/church), and a certified translation of your marriage certificate if it is not in English. There is a fee to pay when starting your divorce, (currently £550.00) though if you are on allow income you can complete FORM EX160 and the Court will assess whether you can pay a reduced fee.

Do I need a solicitor?

It is not necessary to have a solicitor. The online divorce process mentioned above is designed for people who want to divorce without using a solicitor. Many people do find it helpful to get advice form a solicitor when dealing with other aspects of their separation, e.g. children or financial issues, as divorce does not deal with these in any way.

What is divorce based on?

There are currently five options available upon which you case base your divorce: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, being separated for two years (if you both agree to be divorced); and being separated for five years. The two most often used are adultery (where one of you is involved in a relationship with someone else), and unreasonable behaviour.

What is the process?

Once you have sent your divorce petition into Court, the court office will contact your spouse and ask them to complete a form known as ‘Acknowledgement of Service’. This form serves two purposes – firstly it shows the Court that the papers have reached your spouse safely, and secondly it allows your spouse to confirm whether they will co-operate with the divorce proceedings. Once they have sent his form back to the Court, provided they agree to the divorce going ahead, you are able to apply for what is known as ‘Decree Nisi’. This is essentially the Court giving you permission to be divorced, but is not the end of the process. Six weeks and one day after the Court grant you Decree Nisi, you must apply for ‘Decree Absolute’ which completes the divorce process.

How long does divorce take?

From start to finish it can be as little as 5-6 months, but a solicitor will always recommend that financial issues between you and your spouse are settled before you complete the divorce process, which means it may take longer. This advice is given because divorce does not end all the financial claims between you and your spouse, which means you could make claims against each other in the future, after you are divorced. Many people prefer to have the financial claims come to an end at the same time as their divorce, so that they can have peace of mind when they move on with their lives. A solicitor can help you do this, through what is known as a ‘clean break agreement’, which prevents either you or your spouse making any financial claims against each other after your divorce is completed.

National Legal Service Solicitors – Why choose us?

Our specialist team of divorce solicitors advise and support couples who wish to begin divorce proceedings.  The family law department includes Advanced Members of the Law Society Family Panel and members of the Law Society Children Panel. This implies that our divorce solicitors and child care solicitors have the necessary expertise to help you resolve any divorce issues.

Through our network of 19 branch offices we are able to provide representation in divorce proceedings across the country. Speak to our divorce law experts confidentially on 0203 601 5051 or compete our online enquiry form.


Financial Divorce Myths Busted

Written by Rosita Mendonca

According to recent divorce statistics, 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce – however, despite this being a common phenomenon, it is still one of the more misunderstood areas of law.


Adultery affects financial settlement

Whilst adultery is grounds for divorce there is no financial compensation for adulterous behaviour.


Getting a divorce costs a fortune

It is possible, some would even say easy, to issue your own divorce proceedings through the court service website or by paying one of the online providers a relatively small fee. When people think about the cost of a divorce, they are often referring to the overall size of the settlement. Even the most hotly-contested divorce can cost less than an average wedding.


Pensions are not worth taking into considerations

Pensions are often accumulated in the background & their size is often underestimated. For couples who have been in a long term marriage or civil partnership the pension pot is likely to be one of their biggest assets and should be considered when looking at financial settlement during the divorce or dissolution.


Everything is split 50-50

There is no set formula for dividing assets in a divorce.  An equal sharing is often a starting point but there are many other factors to consider.


Financial ties end on decree absolute

Without a financial order you are still financially tied together and open to further financial claims even when you are divorced. So, say you inherit well in 10 years, your ex could make a claim for a proportion of the money.

There is a well known case – Wyatt v Vince – in which a couple divorced, but did not have a final financial order in place. Kathleen Wyatt, successfully claimed settlement of £300,000, 20 years after they were divorced.


If there are any assets or money that require division, you will need to seek specialist legal advice. Please call us on 0203 6015051 or complete our contact form