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How does the divorce process work?

Divorce and separation is never easy and for many it’s a process they wish they could avoid altogether. However, no matter how difficult the process may be, it’s worth understanding how the divorce process works in order to help you in making the right decision, especially if children are involved.

What are the grounds for divorce?

There is only one ground for divorce in the UK: That the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This is supported by one of five facts which either party will need to rely on to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, as per the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

The five facts which can be relied upon are:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable Behaviour
  • Desertion
  • You have been separated for 2 years and you both agree to get a divorce
  • You have been separated for at least 5 years, which can be relied upon even if the other person disagrees to the divorce.

Recent events in public divorce cases have spurred on the Government to consider a No-Fault Divorce, which as the name suggests, should give married couples the option to divorce without having to prove one of the five grounds for divorce. However, there are no specific proposals to change the law at this time and as such this change should not be relied upon when considering divorce at this time.

It is also worth knowing that before you start divorce proceedings, you must have been married for at least 12 months and one of you must consider England and Wales as your permanent home.

How to start divorce proceedings

There are several steps to be aware of when applying for a divorce:

The divorce petition

This first application process is you explaining to the courts that you wish to get a divorce and your reasons why. You will need to provide a certain amount of personal information about yourself, your husband or wife and to the fact on wish you seek to rely upon to prove your marriage has broken down. Once the courts have checked and approved this application you will then receive an approved application and case number.

Your spouse will be sent a copy of the application and asked to return a form acknowledging receipt as well as confirming if they intend to defend the divorce. Defended divorces are rare and can be quite costly.

Decree Nisi

Should both parties have no quarrels with the divorce petition, a decree nisi is the next step in the application process. This particular document is the courts way of saying they see no reason why you can’t go ahead with the divorce. Once you have been granted Decree Nisi you must wait at least six weeks (or 43 days) before applying for the final decree, which is a Decree Absolute.

Should your partner disagree with your application for divorce, you may be expected to go to court to further discuss the case, in order to be granted a Decree Nisi.

Decree Absolute

A Decree Absolute is the final decree and once granted, it officially means your marriage is legally dissolved. Should you wish to arrange for any binding documents that discuss assets, it is recommended that this is completed before applying for a Decree Absolute. If you obtain Decree Absolute prior to sorting your finances, you could lose entitlements in relation to pensions, occupation of the matrimonial home and inheritance from your spouse.

Protecting your Assets in Divorce

When it comes to finances on separation, reaching an amicable financial settlement is a positive start to completing a divorce with terms that suit both parties. It can also protect your own individual and shared assets so neither person is left out-of-pocket at the end of the divorce.

If you have reached an agreement with your ex-partner you can formalise this in the form of a Financial Consent Order, which essentially cuts all financial ties with you and your ex-partner.

When reaching a financial settlement with your ex-partner, it is recommended you each provide evidence of your finances, earnings, savings etc. This will also include any properties, inheritance and even gifts that have been purchased or received by each party both prior and during the marriage. This will enable you to take into account all the finances of the marriage and come to a settlement that is fair and works for both parties.

When it comes to dividing assets, it’s worth keeping in mind that assets that were purchased or received during the marriage will have less protection over assets that were already owned before getting married. There is however different ways of reviewing assets depending on the length of the marriage, which we are happy to discuss should you require any further information.

If you cannot reach agreement with your ex-spouse, the courts can decide how these assets and finances are divided to ensure the final decision is as fair as possible.

Receive help and guidance today at K J Smith Solicitors

Filing for divorce can be a complicated process as it involves being quite personal about your relationship which can prove strenuous on yourself, your partner and any children involved. Our experienced team of divorce lawyers can help you through the divorce application and proceedings to explain any jargon and provide you with support throughout the process.

If you are uncertain about divorce and separation and how it will affect your family, we also offer a family mediation service, which can be beneficial for both parties to have a chance to resolve any disputes, either together or individually with our fully qualified and highly experienced family mediator.

Free, no obligation consultation

We offer a free initial 45 minute consultation to give you the opportunity to meet us and receive some initial divorce advice regarding your circumstances. During this appointment, we will seek to understand the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage and discuss the various options available to you.

If saving the marriage is unlikely, we will seek to understand more about you and your partner's income, savings, assets and pension arrangements, so that we can begin to think about finding a solution to your future financial needs. If you have children, we will also talk about options for their future arrangements.

Please contact our divorce lawyers today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 0118 418 1000 (Reading Head Office), 0118 418 1200 (Reading Central), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke), 01483 370100 (Guildford), 01494 629000 (Beaconsfield), 01235 375500 (Abingdon), 01344 513000 (Ascot), 01635 785 100 (Newbury), 01962 587900 (Winchester) or email info@kjsmith.co.uk.

We also serve a wide range of other areas including Bracknell, Gerrards Cross, Maidenhead, Marlow, Oxford, Slough, Wokingham, and High Wycombe.

Our Office Locations

All our offices are easily accessible by road, rail or bus and we are open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 6:00pm. With today's busy schedules, we offer telephone appointments outside normal office hours until 9pm on Thursdays and between 10am and 3pm on Saturdays.

Not sure which office is closest to you? Try our Office Finder.

If you would like to visit our team of family solicitors, we have offices in Henley-on-Thames, Woodley, Reading (Head Office), Reading (Central), Basingstoke, Guildford, Beaconsfield, Ascot, Newbury & Winchester. We serve a wide range of other areas including Abingdon, Bracknell, Gerrards Cross, Maidenhead, Marlow, Oxford, Slough, High Wycombe and Wokingham.

Why not contact our team of divorce solicitors for a free initial consultation today? We offer a free initial consultation that can take place in any one of our offices or over the telephone.

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