Your Family Law Team
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If you decide that your marriage or civil partnership is over, talk to us about Separation or Divorce. The procedure is usually straightforward. The difficulties tend to lie in resolving related issues such as how to separate, where to live, arrangements for the children and money matters. Our expert Family Law solicitors can advise you on all these issues at the outset and every step of the way.
We know that this will be a difficult time. We listen and understand, we act with sensitivity, and we help you to get the solution that’s right for you.
When it comes to the end of a marriage, you have three basic options: to separate informally, without going to court; to separate using a Separation Agreement; and to formally end the marriage through divorce.
When a marriage or a civil partnership does end there are a few things you need to do. You should let your housing benefit office or mortgage lender know. You should inform the council tax office, the utilities (water, electricity, gas, telephone) and the tax office (especially if you receive tax credits). Financial institutions, such as your bank if you have a joint account, your insurance provider, and any hire purchase or credit companies. Finally, don’t forget local services such as the doctor, dentist, the post office (for forwarded mail) and, if you have children, their schools.
You also need to think about updating your wills - we can help you with that too.
A Separation Agreement will usually set out how you want to sort out financial arrangements, property and arrangements for your children if you have any. They often include an agreement to live separately, not to disturb or annoy each other, to financially support the other partner until that partner starts living with someone new (sometimes called spousal support), to financially support any children, where those children would live and what access each partner would have.
You can also apply for Judicial Separation which does not actually end the marriage, and so is not a divorce.
As long as you have been married for more than a year you can go to court to file for a divorce. A divorce can be undefended if you both agree (also called an uncontested divorce), or defended if not.
Both undefended divorces and defended divorces are handled by the Family Court. With an undefended divorce, although you both agree you should speak to a divorce lawyer to make sure you have sufficient grounds and what evidence you might need. For a defended divorce you should always consult a Family Law solicitor.
A divorce is granted if it can be shown that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, which means one of the following grounds for divorce must be proven:
- unreasonable behaviour
- your partner deserted you at least two years ago
- you have been living apart for at least two years (if you both agree to the divorce)
- you have been living part for at least five years (if one of you doesn’t agree to the divorce)
Before you start the actual process is worth considering divorce mediation. The more you can agree in advance the better for both of you.
An annulment is an alternative to a divorce if you can show that the marriage was either not valid in the first place or is defective (is a ‘voidable’ marriage).
Examples of reasons why a marriage might not be legally valid include:
- You are closely related
- One of you was under 16
- One of you was already married or in a civil partnership
Examples of reasons why a marriage might be defective include:
- It wasn’t consummated
- You didn’t properly consent - e.g. you were drunk or forced into it
- Your partner had a sexually transmitted disease when you got married
- The woman was pregnant by another man at the time of the marriage
The petitioner is the person who applies for the divorce; the respondent is the other person. You simply get a copy of the forms, complete them and file them.
Please visit our web page dedicated to all the issues regarding children when divorcing or separating.