Our team is experienced in managing high value divorce cases. We often deal with family businesses, trusts and complex asset structures, many with an international element. We offer the highest quality legal advice and exceptional client service, supporting our clients in achieving the best outcome.
You may be initiating divorce, responding to a divorce petition, seeking new lawyers for an ongoing case, or considering reopening an old case. Whatever the circumstances, having a top divorce lawyer on your side can make an enormous difference to your chances of success.
To get a divorce, you must file a petition in court and establish the grounds for wanting to dissolve the marriage. It is important to bear in mind that you and your spouse must be married for a minimum of one year before filing for a divorce.
Divorce proceedings are largely administrative (although this issue is currently before the Supreme Court) and a divorce will be upheld if the petitioner (the person initiating the divorce) can establish one or more of the following:
- Your spouse has committed adultery (this also extends to sexual relationships taking place after separation)
- Your spouse has behaved unreasonably, so much so that you cannot be expected to remain with them
- You have been deserted by your spouse for a period of two years or more
- You and your spouse have been separated and living apart for two years (your ex-partner must consent to the divorce)
- You and your spouse have lived apart for five or more years (in this case, you can get divorced without the presence or consent of your spouse)
What is a decree nisi?
If your spouse doesn’t contest to the divorce – or after they have cross-petitioned if they are unhappy with your version of the reasons for the divorce – your divorce lawyer will apply to the court for a declaration called the decree nisi.
The declaration says that the court sees no reason why you shouldn’t be granted a divorce but that isn’t the final word on the matter: that’s called a decree absolute.
What is a decree absolute and when can I apply?
Once your decree nisi has been received, you need to wait six weeks and one day before your lawyer can apply for a decree absolute. Once the court receives this, they can pronounce the decree absolute, which means that you are no longer married and are free to marry again.
Sometimes, if you are also dealing with financial matters, it may be best to wait until there is a financial agreement before you apply for the decree absolute.
No fault Divorce
On the 6th April 2022, new legislation came into effect which has simply changed the way in which same sex and opposite sex couples can separate. Prior to the 6th April 2022, a couple could only get divorced if they were able to prove their marriage had irretrievably broken down on one of the following five facts:
- Adultery (only applicable to heterosexual couples)
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years separation with consent
- Two years desertion; or
- Five years desertion
Since the new laws have however been passed, the need for there to be some level of ‘blame or fault’ on one party has been removed, where parties have not been living separately for at least two years, which in turn is enabling couples to separate amicably. Under the new divorce regime, parties only need to satisfy the Court the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
The main differences between issuing divorce proceedings under the new laws are as follows: –
- A ‘no fault’ divorce can be issued jointly by both parties or solely, by one party
- The petition is now referred to as ‘Application’
- The Petitioner is now referred to as an ‘Applicant’
- The Decree Nisi is referred to as ‘Conditional Order
- The Decree Absolute is now referred to as ‘Final Order’
- There is now a 20 week ‘cooling off’ period before the first stage of the divorce (conditional order) can be applied for and therefore a divorce can no longer be concluded within less than 6 months.
- The ability to defend the divorce has been removed, which in turn means the time and costs that will be incurred in finalising the divorce will be kept at a minimum.
Same sex couples can also, dissolve their marriage by issuing a ‘no fault’ divorce application.
Not only are ‘no fault’ divorces more straightforward, it will not affect the agreement that is reached in respect of any children of the marriage or the division of any family assets.
As some people may find the changes in law and the introduction of the ‘no fault’ divorce overwhelming, it may be in your best interest to seek specialist advice from our professional team of solicitors, and so contact us now on 0208 514 9000.
Fixed fee package for straight forward no fault divorce is £795 plus VAT and Court fee of £593.
How long does the divorce take?
It’s hard to say how long all these steps will take in your specific case. The entire process can take from as little as a few months to as long as several years. Generally speaking though, the more couples can co-operate and agree to reasonable compromises, the smoother and faster the divorce will go.
Our expert divorce lawyers can safely guide you through the divorce timeline of events and protect your financial security, often spotting issues before they become real problems. From advising on what documents to bring to your initial consultation, all the way through guidance on hearings, trials and court orders, our divorce lawyers will fight for your best interests.
Divorce fees and fixed fee packages:
Every divorce is unique and the cost can vary significantly. However, we appreciate the need to get at least an idea of the up front and ongoing costs. A typical straight forward divorce with no financial claim is a fixed fee of £795 plus VAT excluding the court fee of £593.