If you're going through a divorce, we know that you'll have lots of questions about how the process works. This guide takes you through some of the common questions we get asked about - from the grounds you can use to divorce your partner, to the likely cost.
If you have any other questions, please get in touch with our expert family law team. You can call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
What Are The Grounds For Divorce?
From 6 April 2022, the law on divorce changed and no fault divorce replaced the old system.
You no longer need to give a reason for the breakdown of the marriage, or to blame one party. Instead, you give a statement which confirms that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
You must have been married or in a civil partnership for at least 12 months before submitting your application.
Read our No Fault Divorce FAQs for more information
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How Does The Divorce Process Work?
You can now apply for a divorce or dissolution either on your own, or jointly with your spouse. In a sole application, the person applying will be known as the ‘applicant’ and their spouse/civil partner will be known as the ‘Respondent’.
In joint applications, both parties will apply for their divorce or dissolution. together.
These are the key stages to the divorce process:
1. Divorce documents filed at court
You can apply for the divorce jointly or apply individually. You (or your lawyer) submit the divorce application to the court, together with the marriage certificate and court fee of £593*. The Court will then issue the application..
In sole applications, the court sends the divorce application to the Respondent, letting them know that the Applicant wants to divorce them. The court will also send a form to the Respondent called the "acknowledgement of service".
The Respondent has 14 days after receiving the acknowledgement of service to complete and return it to the court. This document confirms to the court that the Respondent has received the divorce documents and also whether they intend to ”dispute" the divorce.
There are now very few reasons as to why someone may be able to dispute the divorce process. This should make the process smoother, more predictable and less stressful.
2. Conditional Order
A conditional order is a document that says that the court doesn’t see any reason why the parties can’t divorce or dissolve their civil partnership. This was previously known as a ‘Decree Nisi’.
3. Final Order
A final order is the legal document that ends the marriage/civil partnership. You can use it as evidence that the marriage or civil partnership has come to an end. This was previously known as a ‘Decree Absolute’.
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How Long Does Divorce Take?
It will now take a minimum of 6 months to get divorced or dissolve a civil partnership. The process can take longer than this if you also need to resolve other matters including finances and arrangements for children.
Every divorce is different and timings will vary according to the complexity of your case and how much you both agree on.
Common Delays In Divorce Cases
There are a range of common issues that can delay the divorce process, including if:
- One of you isn't prepared to negotiate a settlement out of court
- Negotiations about a financial settlement take a long time
- One of you delays completing court forms, or completes them incorrectly
- The court itself has delays due to the amount of work it has to process. Given that the no fault divorce process is new, some initial delays are to be expected.
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How Much Does Divorce Cost?
In most cases you and your former partner will each pay your own legal costs.
The main thing that will put costs up during a divorce is where one or both partners are not willing to negotiate. It's common for couples not to agree about the financial settlement at first. But if you can't agree at all, it will make the process more expensive for you both as it will require extra work for your solicitors.
The Court Fee for starting a divorce in England and Wales is £593*.
Couples often agree to share this cost. If you have a low disposable income, you may be able to pay a reduced court fee.
How much you pay in solicitors fees will depend on:
Whether you and your partner are willing to negotiate
While it's normal for there to be disagreements about issues such as what should happen to your finances, or your children, it's usually cheaper if you're both willing to come to an agreement. If you cannot agree then more legal work will be required, as your solicitor will need to negotiate with the other party.
Whether you can settle your case out of court
Out of court divorce processes are normally more cost effective, and are suitable if you are willing to negotiate. If your case has to go to court then it can cost more in legal fees, as your solicitor will have to do more work to get you a fair settlement.
How complex your divorce is
If you have property in more than one country, or considerable wealth, then it's important to get specialist legal advice to ensure your interests are protected.
We'll provide you with clear information about costs at the start of your case, allowing you to manage your outgoings. We also offer a fixed fee divorce option if you and your former partner have reached an agreement and want a quick and easy divorce.
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What Should I Expect When I First Meet My Divorce Lawyer?
For many people, meeting a lawyer for the first time can be a daunting prospect. Our solicitors understand this and offer a friendly service, where we listen to what you're saying and work with you to get you the settlement you want. We'll be honest with you about what will happen as well as giving a clear estimate of the costs involved.
When you first meet one of our divorce solicitors they will want to get a clear picture of your case, including:
- The background of your marriage and the reason for separation
- Your finances
- If you have any children and how they may be affected
- Whether you have already agreed something with your ex-partner (we can advise on whether this is fair, but will listen to you about what you want to accept)
- Whether you have a prenuptial agreement in place.
This first meeting will normally take between 60 and 90 minutes. While you don't need to bring anything with you, it can be helpful to bring a rough estimate of your property, debts, income and outgoings. If you'd like us to file a divorce petition on your behalf then we'll also need your marriage certificate.
We understand that this first meeting can be a lot of information to take in, so we’ll provide you with a written note of our advice after your appointment.
To book a first meeting with one of our experienced divorce lawyers, please call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
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- Coping With Divorce
Divorce is an emotional process; our guide provides useful information on the help available.
- Divorce & Your Finances
Detailed information about the impact on your income, home, property, pension and business following divorce.
- Out Of Court Divorce
Divorcing out of court can be quicker, cheaper and less stressful. It also encourages a better working relationship with your former partner too.
- Child Arrangements
For most people their biggest concern when going through a divorce is their children. We can help you negotiate future living and access arrangements as part of your divorce.
- Make A Will
Once you’re divorced you should review your Will. Visit our wills page for information on making a new will, or changing an existing one.
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*Court fees are subject to change