Divorce is a court process which dissolves your marriage, so that you are no longer legally tied to each other and you are free to marry someone else if you wish. If you have decided to end your marriage, we can help you get divorced.
A nationally-ranked family law firm with a reputation for cutting edge work and a modern approach, we work with clients all over the UK from our offices in London and the New Forest. Our experienced divorce lawyers have particular expertise supporting LGBT+ clients and parents through fertility treatment.
Divorce is often one part of a wider picture if you and your spouse are separating or untangling your lives together, our divorce solicitors can also help you with:
Untangling your assets and finances
Settling arrangements for your children
Issues in relation to assisted reproduction and stored gametes/embryos.
The UK does not yet allow divorce simply because you no longer want to be married. To get divorced, you must satisfy the family court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down on the basis of at least one of the following grounds:
Adultery (which only includes sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex)
Two years separation, provided that both spouses agree
Five years separation
Some couples prefer to wait for two years so that a divorce petition can be filed without the need to detail any unreasonable behaviour, although we are skilled at handling unreasonable behaviour petitions sensitively for those who wish to get divorced amicably before they have been separated for two years.
Yes, this is rare, but the family court can refuse to grant a divorce if you do not satisfy the grounds for divorce set out in the law. It is important to ensure your present your case to the court as strongly as possible, even though you may also want to avoid heightening the difficulties between you.
Divorce is a legal process which is dealt with by the family court. Although a judge will approve a divorce and make a court order, it is very unusual to be asked to attend court in person. The steps for getting divorced are:
The petitioner prepares a divorce petition and sends it to the family court, giving details about the grounds for divorce and setting out whether you intend to make any financial claims.
The respondent, having been sent a copy of the issued petition, completes and returns an acknowledgment of service form, indicating whether you accept that your marriage should end or intend to defend the divorce. Most petitions are undefended, and this does not mean that all the financial or children issues are agreed; these will be dealt with separately.
The petitioner then completes a statement in support of the petition and files this with the court, asking the court to set a date for decree nisi. At this stage a judge will look at the application and decide whether the grounds for divorce are satisfied. If so, the judge will set a date for decree nisi. Six weeks and one day later, the petitioner can apply for decree absolute (and if he/she does not do so the respondent can apply instead after three months). When the decree absolute is made, your marriage legally comes to an end.
The divorce process generally takes 3-4 months and is completed on paper. In practice, many divorces take longer than this because financial and/or children issues also need to be resolved as part of the process. Although these are dealt with separately by the family court, any related negotiations or court proceedings concerning your finances or arrangements for your children may delay the conclusion of your divorce.
There is a court fee of £550 (which may be paid by one party or shared).
If you would like our help in managing the divorce process, the first step is usually to arrange an initial meeting to talk through the process as well as any related children or financial issues. We usually charge on a fixed fee basis for initial meetings.
From there, we can represent you in your divorce, making the application for you and ensuring the process is dealt with through to conclusion. We usually charge a fixed fee for this service, and separately on an hourly rate basis if you also need help in relation to untangling your finances or resolving arrangements for your children.