Divorce

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At Simply Legal we appreciate that divorce is not an easy process and is much more than filing paperwork to bring your marriage to an end. We understand this will involve you making important decisions regarding your home and your family. Therefore, it is essential to seek professional advice to guide you at such a difficult and stressful time. 

We work closely with our clients right from the beginning of the process to identify all what’s important to our induvial client and what the key issues are. We will then give realistic, practical advice to find the best possible outcome for our clients. We will never build an unachievable expectation for any of our clients. 

We do recommend an initial 30-minute meeting with one of our experienced solicitors who will provide advice and lead you through the process involved.  Any advice given will be confirmed in writing. The fee for this initial meeting is £100 plus VAT.

Fixed Fee Service

If your divorce is not contested, then we offer a Fixed Fee service. If your anticipated divorce is likely to be Contested (not agreed by the other party) we will discuss our costs for this service at your interview.

For a fixed fee, we will take care of the uncontested divorce process from start to finish, including:

  Gathering all the relevant details
  Corresponding with other parties
  Preparing & filing all the relevant paperwork with the court

You will have access to your dedicated solicitor by email and telephone.

Court Fees

Any court fees payable will be additional to our fees. In some financial circumstances you may be entitled to a fee remission, which means you may not have to pay for the court fee. We shall discuss with you in further detail. 

Establishing One of Five ‘Facts’

You can begin your divorce process once you have been married for one year. You have to show that your marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. In order to prove that your marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’ your application to the court must be made based upon one of the five ‘facts’.

  • Adultery
  • Behavior
  • Two years’ separation with consent of both parties
  • Desertion
  • Five years’ separation with no consent required of both parties

Nullity

There may be reasons why a marriage is either void or voidable. In this instance, the parties will need to apply for a decree of nullity rather than a divorce. A marriage is void if it was legally flawed from the start, for example, if one or both parties were underage or were already married to another person.

A marriage is voidable if there is a reason entitling either party to apply for an annulment, for example, if it was a forced marriage or if the marriage has not been consummated. Nullity proceedings can be started at any point, including in the first year of marriage. However, the grounds for obtaining an annulment are complex and technically specific, so it is crucial to get early advice from a solicitor with experience in this area.

Judicial Separation

Children

If you have a religious or other objection to divorce, it is possible to obtain a decree of judicial separation instead. Applications for judicial separation are unusual and legal advice should be sought, as the financial and legal implications of judicial separation differ from those associated with divorce.

If you have children, it is important to establish workable, child-focused arrangements for them after your separation. We will help you assess what steps you need to take to make this happen. 

Financial Settlement

We will put our expertise and resources at your disposal to achieve the best possible resolution of the financial aspects of your divorce. This is a complex area of law and there is no single formula. However, some of the main principles can be summarised. 

The court will look to achieve fairness, which in the majority of cases will mean sharing the assets built up during the marriage itself while balancing the ‘needs’ of each party, taking into account their resources, obligations, income and earning capacity. First consideration will always be given to the welfare of minor children of the family. Fairness may mean equal division but there are many situations when a simple 50/50 split would not deliver this objective. For example, a person with a lower earning capacity who is the principal carer for dependent children may receive more than 50% of the available capital to enable them to rehouse.

Where both parties’ needs can be comfortably met from the available resources, a 50/50 split is more likely to be appropriate, subject to considerations such as whether certain assets should be treated as non-matrimonial (e.g. certain types of inheritance or pre-marital business assets).

The court can grant a combination of orders, depending on the circumstances of the case. These include:

  • Lump sum orders
  • Orders for the sale or transfer of assets
  • Orders that neither party will pay ongoing maintenance to the other (a clean break)
  • Orders for spousal maintenance to be paid for a fixed or indefinite period of time
  • Pension sharing orders

These orders can be decided by the court or – as in the vast majority of cases – simply approved by the court after the parties reach agreement. This is known as a financial consent order. It is important that the order setting out any financial settlement is properly drafted to ensure that it delivers the finality and closure you are looking for and is enforceable in the event of a future dispute.

Frequently Asked Question’s

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What should be done once you are served with divorce papers?

There are time limits for responding to a divorce petition, which should be complied with. In some cases – for example, if there is a choice of jurisdictions in which the divorce could take place, these time limits can be crucially important. If you have received divorce papers, get in touch with Simply Legal and we will work with you to identify the next steps.

Do you have to go to a court hearing to get a divorce?

Only the court can grant divorces; however, the divorce process takes place either online or by paperwork passing between the parties and the court. Only a tiny minority of cases need substantive input from a judge and very few couples have to attend court to deal with the divorce itself.

How long does a divorce take?

We normally anticipate that the procedure from petition to decree absolute will take between four and six months. In most cases, clients are advised to delay their decree absolute until a financial order has been approved and stamped by the court. As financial negotiations and/or contested proceedings can take some time, particularly if a case is complex, this can mean that the divorce takes longer.

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Does the reason for divorce effect the financial settlement?

In all but the most extreme cases of misconduct, the reasons for your divorce will have no effect on the financial outcome

Can a financial settlement be reached without a divorce?

You can agree the financial aspects of separation without getting divorced using a separation agreement but the only way to get a final and binding settlement is to obtain a financial court order after the decree nisi has been granted within the divorce proceedings. This financial order can either be agreed by the parties or decided by a judge after a contested court process.
 
The court order must be approved and stamped by a judge otherwise it is not valid. It then becomes legally binding at the point of decree absolute, the final decree in the proceedings, after which, the parties are said to be ‘divorced’. 

Are divorce records available to the public?

The decree absolute – the final decree in the process, which actually brings the marriage to an end – is accessible to any member of the public, including the parties themselves. The decree absolute records various details, including the parties’ full names, the date and place of their marriage ceremony and the date of the decree absolute. Documents showing the fact on which the divorce is based and further details, such as allegations of unreasonable behaviour, are not generally available. 

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