Family Law FAQ: Divorce
Posted in on
According to the Holmes and Rahe scale, getting a divorce is the second most stressful life event, after the death of spouse. We don’t get married with the expectation of later getting divorced and most are entirely unprepared for this outcome, with little knowledge of the processes and factors involved.
Further daunted by the prospect of paying court and representation fees, some may be tempted by the numerous websites offering ‘DIY divorces’, which boast low costs and quick results. However, without the guidance and experience of a legal professional, you could end up worse off in the long run. The knowledge and skill a legal professional brings to the table ensures that you receive the right information and benefit from their connections to other professionals. Plus, every divorce is different – there’s no set way to handle it. Working alongside a professional, understanding the process and knowing what to expect helps to make this emotionally taxing time less distressing.
Our expert barristers have identified a series of frequently asked questions on the topic of divorce and composed simple, digestible answers to each. Knowledgeable, professional and committed to securing the best outcome for you, our Family Law barristers are available to deliver astute advice, assist in drafting documents and provide excellent representation before the court.
How do I get divorced?
To be eligible for a divorce in England or Wales, you must meet a series of criteria:
- You must have been married for at least a year
- Your marriage must be legally recognised in the UK
- Your relationship must have broken down to an irrevocable extent
- You must have a permanent home in England or Wales, though there can be exceptions to this
Having ensured you meet this criteria, you will need to send paperwork to a court to apply for a divorce. Additionally, you’ll need make arrangements for the care and child maintenance payments of any children you have with your ex. You will also need to divide your money and property. To make the decisions legally binding, you will have to come to an agreement in a set amount of time.
If you struggle to agree on any of these points, mediation – discussion and negotiation guided by a specially trained barrister – can help. You may even qualify for legal aid to help pay.
Do I need to give a reason?
Divorce in the UK is ‘fault-based’. This means that you will need to prove that your marriage has deteriorated irreversibly. There are five reasons accepted by the courts:
1. Adultery – your spouse has had sexual intercourse with someone else of the opposite sex. Please be aware that this reason cannot be applied if you have lived as a couple with your spouse for six months after you discovered this.
2. Desertion – this is applied if your spouse has left you to end your relationship, without your agreement or without good reason. You can also claim desertion if your spouse has left you for more than two years in the past two and a half years. This reason can still be given if you’ve lived together for up to six months in this period.
3. You have lived apart for more than two years – your spouse must agree in writing if you give this reason.
4. You have lived apart for at least five years – no need for your spouse’s agreement.
5. Unreasonable behaviour – if your spouse has acted in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them, you can give this reason. This includes but is not limited to: physical violence, verbal abuse, drunkenness or drug use and refusing to pay for housekeeping.
How long does it take?
Unfortunately, there is no straight-forward answer to this question. While it can take as little as between four and six months to complete the process, the amount of time your divorce takes is dependent on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, whether you have a prenuptial agreement and how long it takes you to agree on arrangements for children and financial settlements.
How much does it cost?
The total cost of your divorce will depend on factors such as whether you and your partner are in agreement, if you need to attend court hearings and if you enlist the assistance of mediators or other legal professionals.
In England and Wales, the court fee to file for your divorce is £550. An application for a consent order, which notes and makes your agreed financial arrangements legally binding, costs £100. If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement about your financial arrangements, you can apply for a financial order. This is when the court will decide how your finances will be divided. This application will cost £255.
If you have any other questions about divorce, require assistance or advice, or need representation before court, our barristers have the Family Law expertise necessary. Our Direct Access service means you can instruct if you have already sought counsel through other professionals, such as an accountant. We also offer a fantastic mediation service, with numerous specially trained mediators to choose from.
If you would like to arrange mediation at our chambers in Chelmsford or arrange a consultation with a barrister who can help you today, you can call us on 01245 605040 or find further details on our contact page.