We understand that divorce or separation can be an extremely stressful and confusing experience. Our experienced team of family law solicitors can help you make the right decisions and guide you through the process.
Choosing to end your relationship requires careful thought and the right approach, especially where there are complex financial matters or children that you need to take into account.
Providing you and your partner agree the marriage is over, the divorce process can be relatively straightforward. The difficulty tends to lie in resolving practical issues resulting from the divorce such as where to live, custody of children and financial matters in deciding who gets what now and in the future.
Understandably, the issue of whether to involve lawyers is likely to be one of the most pressing when considering separation or divorce. The reality is that instructing a competent lawyer to protect your interests can help ensure that your financial position is protected.
The Family Law team at Wells Burcombe have a reputation for taking a sensible, sensitive approach to divorce and separation. We know what a difficult time this can be, so are ready to provide whatever support you need to end your relationship on the right terms for you and your loved ones.
We offer flexible payment options including fixed fees or monthly standing orders, as well as the possibility of deferred fees where your financial situation is uncertain prior to reaching a financial settlement.
Our expertise with divorce and separation
Our divorce solicitors can support you through applying for a divorce or responding to a divorce application started by your spouse. We will make sure you fully understand the process and how the rules apply to your situation, giving you the best chance of a smooth, swift divorce.
Divorce financial settlements
Dividing your finances can be the most complicated part of divorce and separation. Our divorce lawyers can advise on your options, including helping you to agree an amicable divorce settlement where possible, or applying to a court to decide how your finances should be divided where required.
See how we can help with divorce financial settlements.
Arrangements for children
Sometimes referred to as ‘child custody’, working out how your children will divide their time between their parents can be tough, emotionally as well as practically. Wherever possible, we encourage parents to work together to decide on these issues, as this is usually in the best interests of the children. However, we can assist with applying to a family court for a Child Arrangements Order where the need arises.
See how we can help with child arrangements.
Civil partnership dissolution
For those in civil partnerships, the process of ending a relationship is slightly different than for divorce. We can advise on the rules for civil partnership dissolution and guide you through the process, helping to keep things as simple and stress-free as we can.
Separation for unmarried couples
If you are separating from a partner you were not married to or in a civil partnership with, things can be complicated. You will have no automatic legal right to each other’s property, so there is often the need for careful negotiation. If you have a Cohabitation Agreement or other legal provisions that need to be considered, we can advise you on their application and your options.
Mediation is now the most common method for dealing with divorce finances and child arrangements. It allows you and your former partner to work together, under the guidance of a trained mediator, to agree how these matters should be resolved.
Our divorce solicitors can advise on the suitability of mediation, help you prepare for mediation and review any agreement you make through mediation to confirm whether it reflects your best interests.
Any agreement made through mediation will be voluntary, but we can apply to a court for a Consent Order to make the agreement legally binding if required.
See how we can help with divorce mediation.
Our divorce fees
We offer flexible payment options to cover the cost of divorce, including fixed fees or monthly standing orders to spread your costs.
Fixed fee divorce
For straightforward matters, we can usually work on a fixed fee basis. This means we will agree a price in advance to complete all of the work needed to handle a specific stage, such as making a divorce application. This gives you total transparency and certainty of key costs involved in your divorce.
Divorce deferred fee agreements
Where appropriate, we can discuss arrangements to allow you to defer some of our fees until after a financial settlement has been agreed and you have funds available.
What are the grounds for divorce?
Under current divorce rules, you must have been married for at least a year to apply for a divorce and only if the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This can be demonstrated by one of the following five facts:
- Your spouse has committed adultery and you cannot continue to live with them
- Your spouse has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue living together
- Your spouse has abandoned you for a continuous period of 2 years or more
- You and your spouse have been living separately for 2 years or more and your spouse agrees to the divorce
- You and your spouse have been living separately for 5 years or more
Which reasons you rely on will depend on the situation. If you have lived apart for 2 or more years, this usually makes things simple as neither party has to take the blame. If you wish to get divorced sooner, however, you will normally need to rely on the reason of ‘unreasonable behaviour’.
What counts as unreasonable behaviour covers a wide range of issues, from working too much and spending too much time away from your spouse, to more serious issues, such as alcohol or drug abuse and domestic violence.
Where you wish to avoid conflict, choosing reasons for the divorce that do not reflect badly on your spouse’s character will normally reduce the likelihood of their raising objections.
However, you need to be sure that the reasons you choose will be sufficient for a court to agree that your marriage has permanently broken down. Threading this needle can be difficult, so it is highly worth contacting our expert divorce solicitors for advice when preparing your divorce application.
Can I get a no fault divorce in the UK?
The way divorce works in England and Wales is set to change with the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 which will come into force in autumn 2021.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will give couples who wish to end their marriage the option of a ‘no fault divorce’. This means neither party will need to accept blame for the failure of the marriage and no reason will need to be given for the breakdown of a relationship.
How does no fault divorce work?
Under the provisions set out in the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, anyone wishing to end their marriage will need to apply to a court for a Divorce Order. Either spouse can make an application for a divorce order or both spouses can make a joint application.
The application will need to contain a statement that their marriage has ‘broken down irretrievably’ and the court will accept this without the need for any supporting evidence. If one spouse makes the application, the other spouse cannot block the process, removing the previous possibility of a divorce being contested or defended.
Once the court has reviewed the application, they will issue a Conditional Order stating that the court sees no reason the Divorce Order cannot be granted. There must then be a wait of at least 6 weeks before the Divorce Order is granted, making the divorce final.
Is it worth waiting for a no fault divorce?
In most cases, the answer will be no. Even under the current rules, it is usually possible to have an amicable divorce that is not contested by either party if you have the right assistance to navigate the process.
The main point where problems can arise under current divorce rules is over what reasons to give for the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of your marriage and the fact one party must effectively take the blame for the failure of your marriage. However, conflict over this issue can usually be avoided if you are careful to pick reasons that the party ‘taking the blame’ will not object to.
If you are worried about your spouse contesting your divorce, then it may be worth waiting until no fault divorce becomes an option. However, the government has not yet given a set date for when the law will come into force, with the only guidance being that it will be in ‘Autumn 2021’. We therefore recommend speaking to our team whatever your situation, so we can best advise you on your options.