Realising that your relationship has reached its end can be an emotional and overwhelming time. Our family solicitors have compiled a list of answers to commonly asked questions about divorce and separation so you can get a better understanding of what is involved and what to expect.

Can you get a divorce without a lawyer?

If you and your partner have agreed to end your marriage then you can access the online divorce portal and apply for a divorce yourself. You are not required to have a lawyer, however, it is helpful to obtain legal advice to understand the legal consequences of the paperwork you are completing.

The commencement of divorce proceedings also requires consideration as to what will happen with your finances, and what the arrangements for your children will be. It is sensible to get legal advice to consider all of these separate elements. A solicitor is also there to support you and help you reduce stress.

How much does a divorce cost?

The court fee to apply for a divorce in the UK is £593. This is payable at the time the application is issued and is separate from any additional solicitor fees. The person applying for the divorce is responsible for covering the court fee but often couples agree to share the cost with one person reimbursing the other.

If either of you have a solicitor, you will each be responsible for your own legal fees.

When can you get a divorce?

To be eligible for a divorce, you must have been married for at least one year and your marriage must be legally recognised in the UK. Additionally, the UK must be your permanent home or that of your spouse. Due to changes in the divorce law, you are no longer required to prove fault or formally blame or take the blame for the breakdown of your marriage. Instead, you are asked to confirm to the Court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

How long does a divorce take?

On average, the divorce process in the UK takes between eight and twelve months. A divorce is not usually finalised until a financial settlement is reached between the parties.

What are the grounds for divorce?

Before April 2022, to legally obtain a divorce, you had to prove the marriage had irretrievably broken down. To establish an irretrievable breakdown, you had to rely on one of the five grounds for divorce; adultery, unreasonable behaviour such as domestic abuse, desertion, separation for more than two years, and separation for more than five years.

However, following the change to the divorce law in 2022, divorcing couples no longer need to prove or state why.

What is a no fault divorce?

‘No fault’ divorce was introduced in April 2022 and eliminates the requirement to place blame on either party or prove fault.

This helps prevent conflict as couples are no longer legally required to state the reason behind their separation or divorce.

How long do you have to be separated before divorce?

You do not have to be separated for a particular length of time before you can apply for a divorce. However, you need to have been married for at least 12 months to file for a divorce.

How to stop divorce proceedings

Once divorce proceedings have begun, they can be stopped by the agreement of both parties. This must occur before final orders are made by the court and the proceedings have been finalised.

If your partner applied for a divorce on or after 6 April 2022, you can no longer defend the divorce proceedings.

What am I entitled to in a divorce?

This varies depending on your individual circumstances. The Court will take into account various factors to determine the financial division of your matrimonial assets. These include consideration of the following:

  • The financial resources available;
  • The financial contributions of both parties
  • The earning capacity of both parties
  • The length of the marriage
  • The needs of the parties
  • The needs of the children

There is no set formula for how to divide any assets in a divorce, and it is really important that specialist family law advice is sought.

What is mediation in divorce?

Mediation in divorce is the process of working through any differences and disagreements with the help of a neutral third party. The third person is called a mediator and will assist you and your partner in reaching an agreement and making arrangements regarding money, property, and children after separation. This process is designed to resolve conflict through communication rather than an adversarial court process.

What is alimony?

Alimony is an American term that can be referred to in the UK. In the UK, we call it periodical payments or spousal maintenance. It can be ordered for one party to provide financial support to their former spouse each month, to ensure that they can meet their financial needs.

How long does spousal maintenance last?

Spousal maintenance will automatically end upon the death or remarriage of the person receiving it. Usually other “trigger events” are agreed for when spousal maintenance will end. This could include children reaching a certain age, the receiving party starting to cohabit, or a specific date in the future.

What is spousal maintenance based on?

Spousal maintenance is not always ordered by the Court or agreed between the parties. When deciding whether it is appropriate, a number of factors are considered, including the income of both parties, what their respective financial needs are, and their earning capacities.

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