If you are considering getting a divorce, you will undoubtedly have many questions about the legal process, especially if you have children. Here, we address some of the central concerns that couples may have at this uncertain time, including:
- How does the divorce process work?
- When must a financial settlement be agreed?
- When do arrangements for children need to be made?
- What does the petitioner for divorce need to prove?
- Do spouses have to try mediation before applying for divorce?
- What if the respondent contests the divorce?
- How much does a divorce cost?
- Is divorce the only option?
- Do I need a solicitor to get divorced?
If you would like legal advice tailored to your particular circumstances, get in touch with our divorce lawyers today by completing the online enquiry form.
Divorcing spouses are called the petitioner and the respondent. The petitioner is the party who starts legal proceedings by filing for divorce. It’s important to note that a petition can only be issued after at least one year of marriage. When the respondent receives a copy of the documents, they should acknowledge receipt and confirm whether they will defend the divorce.
If the respondent does not contest the divorce, the petitioner makes a sworn statement that the details they have given are true. A Court Official then decides whether the petitioner has shown that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, which is the only ground for divorce under UK law.
If the Court agrees, they will set a date for the decree nisi to be pronounced. Six weeks and one day after the decree nisi is issued, the petitioner can request a decree absolute, which will legally end the marriage. The respondent can request a decree absolute three months after the decree nisi. Once the decree absolute has been issued, former spouses are free to remarry.
There is no legal deadline if spouses are privately agreeing a financial settlement, but we strongly advise reaching a settlement before the decree absolute is issued. Couples who require a court order on their financial settlement should be aware that this is only possible between decree nisi and decree absolute. You can read more about financial settlements here.
Spouses are encouraged to agree arrangements between themselves, though the court can issue an order on living arrangements where this is not possible. You can learn more about arrangements and financial provision for children here.
The respondent can defend a divorce by countering the facts alleged in the petition. If they are successful, the petitioner may choose to apply on different grounds or live separately from their spouse for five years before making another application.
However, rather than directly contest the divorce, reluctant respondents typically try to delay the process by avoiding co-operation. Using a collaborative approach can help to prevent this scenario and keep the split amicable, which would be the best outcome for both parties.
It costs £550.00 to apply for a divorce. The petitioner will pay this fee though they can ask that the respondent pays their costs. If the respondent does not agree, there will be a costs hearing after the decree nisi is pronounced and the judge will decide who should pay.
Solicitors’ fees are additional and will vary according to the complexity of the divorce. They can be included in the petitioner’s request that the respondent pays the cost.
An alternative to divorce is Judicial separation. A Judicial separation gives spouses time and space to decide if they want to end their marriage. It is also an option for couples who have been married for less than a year. We highly recommend that spouses who are legally separating negotiate a separation agreement.
It may be tempting to reduce costs by not involving solicitors, however this is not recommended. Aside from the risk of errors, delays and additional expenses, agreeing a financial settlement and arrangements for your children without guidance could impact your future financial security.
Our empathetic family law team will help you to reach an agreement which protects your and your children’s interests. By taking a collaborative approach where we would work together with your spouse and their solicitor, we avoid the stress normally associated with divorce and instead strive for an amicable and efficient separation.
Contact our Divorce Solicitors in Yorkshire
To find out more about divorce and how we can help you, call us today on 01904 716000 (York) or 01937 583210 (Wetherby) or 01653 692247 (Malton), or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you right away.