Divorce: Frequently Asked Questions
How long does the divorce process take?
A divorce normally takes between 5 to 6 months.
How long do I have to be married before I can get divorced?
At least 1 year.
What are the grounds for a divorce?
There is just one ground for divorce, the irretrievable breakdown of marriage. You will need to prove the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage in one of five different ways. These are: adultery, behaviour (often referred to as Unreasonable Behaviour), desertion, separation for two years where the other party consents, and separation for five years (no consent needed).
What documents will I need to commence divorce proceedings?
You will need to provide us with the original or a certified copy of your marriage certificate.
What if I cannot find my marriage certificate?
No problem – if you cannot locate your original marriage certificate and your marriage took place in England and Wales, we are able to obtain a certified copy for a fee of £26. Obtaining a certified copy of your marriage certificate is not included in our fixed cost divorce service.
Will I have to attend court?
The vast majority of divorces are undefended and the parties are not required to attend court. Occasionally, if the District Judge has any concerns about the proposed arrangements for the children, the parties may be asked to attend court for a short appointment to discuss what is going to happen to the children. Alternatively, if the divorce becomes defended court attendances will become necessary.
What happens if my spouse refuses to acknowledge receipt of the divorce papers?
If this happens we will have to arrange personal service of the divorce petition upon your spouse at either their residential or work address. The usual cost of personally serving the divorce petition is approximately £75 to £100 plus VAT. This fee is not included in our fixed cost divorce service.
What happens if I do not know where my spouse is living?
You must make reasonable enquiries to locate your spouse before commencing divorce proceedings. If after making these enquiries you still cannot locate your spouse then we can apply to the court for orders that service of the divorce petition be dispensed with or that we are allowed to serve the divorce papers on a third party such as a relative or your spouse’s employers. The cost of this additional work is not included in our fixed cost divorce service as the proceedings cannot be regarded as uncontested.
Does it make any difference if we were married abroad?
No, but if the marriage certificate is in another language then we will need to obtain a notarised translation. This will incur an additional fee and is not included in our fixed cost divorce service.
Does it make any difference if either or both of us are foreign nationals?
No, provided either of you are habitually resident in England and Wales.
Does it make any difference if either of us is resident abroad?
No, provided the other is habitually resident here.
Can I rely on my own adultery for a divorce?
No, in this circumstance you will have to ask your spouse to divorce you.
My husband/wife has kissed someone else, is that adultery?
To prove adultery in divorce, you must show that sexual intercourse has actually taken place. Kissing, cuddling or oral sex is not adultery. You may be able to proceed on another ground of behaviour.
Does it matter who commences the divorce proceedings?
There are some disadvantages if your spouse divorces you. If divorce proceedings are commenced against you, you may be ordered to pay the costs of the divorce. The general legal rule is that if the Petitioner proves their case for divorce they are awarded costs against the other party. You can avoid any problems relating to costs by agreeing at the outset who pays what.
Do I have to agree all financial matters before I start divorce proceedings?
No, but it is a good idea to do so.
If you do not agree financial matters between you, your former spouse can bring claims against you after the divorce and may even be able to make a claim against your estate in the event of your death. It is therefore wise to reach an agreement over financial matters and have that agreement incorporated into a legal agreement “a Consent Order”.
Does a divorce automatically sort out all of our financial issues?
No, a Decree Absolute will only end your marriage. Unless you specifically deal with financial matters, your financial claims against each other will remain open indefinitely until you terminate them by way of a Court order. This can be done by both parties agreeing financial matters and entering into a Consent Order or by a judge imposing an order upon you both.
So when are the financial matters dealt with?
Usually at the same time as the divorce proceedings, although often the divorce itself can be concluded before a final decision has been made on the finances. You should however not re-marry without first taking legal advice.
Do I have to agree all arrangements for the children before divorce proceedings?
As with financial issues, you do not have to agree everything regarding the children but it is a good idea to do so. To proceed with your divorce you must satisfy the court that the arrangements for the children are the best that can be achieved in the circumstances.
If I get a Decree Nisi, should I immediately apply for the Decree Absolute when my waiting period of six weeks is over?
If your financial settlement hasn’t yet been concluded, you should not apply for Decree Absolute. The timing of this is crucial in any case.
Once I commence divorce proceedings am I bound to continue with them?
No, you can stop the divorce proceedings at any time.
When can the parties marry again?
For divorce proceedings there are two decrees and the first stage is the granting of the Decree Nisi. After this the petitioner must wait at least six weeks and one day before applying for the Decree Absolute. When this has been granted the marriage will come to an end and both parties are free to marry again.
Can I change the locks on the family home?
If your spouse has a right to occupy the property and there is no court order preventing him or her from exercising that right to occupy, then technically no. However, if your partner or spouse has left the property and has clearly indicated that they no longer intend to occupy, then to protect your privacy it may be that the locks are changed as long as reasonable access to the property is not denied.
Divorce & Family Law Specialist can help you at all stages of the legal divorce process.
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