Divorce / separation
The only way to legally end a marriage or civil partnership is by an application for divorce (marriage) or dissolution (civil partnership). The ending of a marriage or civil partnership is usually emotionally difficult for all parties. At Proctor Moore, it is our aim to deal with your matter in a sensitive and supportive manner, enabling the legal process to proceed smoothly and efficiently.
We are committed to dealing with your matter in a non-confrontational manner as possible. By helping you to build a constructive working relationship with your spouse or civil partner, we hope that meaningful negotiations on important separate issues such as finances or arrangements for children will be encouraged. This in turn may save both parties from potentially expensive court involvement and further emotional upset.
We offer a fixed fee of £750 excluding VAT and disbursements for an undefended divorce. Our fixed fees will not apply if the divorce is defended or other circumstances arise which complicate your matter. In these circumstances further cost information will be provided to you. In all the circumstances there are Court costs which you can find on Court Service website.
It is possible that other fees may arise during your divorce/dissolution. For example, if we need to arrange for the court bailiff to serve the petition, or if you wish for the petition to be privately served. We will always inform you if an additional cost is likely to arise.
Please note, if you require assistance in respect of any matters relating to financial arrangements or arrangements for children these are separate matters and must be paid for separately.
On average it takes about 20 weeks to complete the divorce/dissolution process provided your application is not contested and no unforeseen problems arise such as delays in acknowledging the petition.
There are a number of key steps involved in obtaining a divorce/dissolution:
- Draft divorce petition
- File petition at court with a court fee will apply
Court will serve the petition on spouse/civil partner
Spouse/civil partner to respond (usually within seven days
- Application to swear affidavit and application
for decree nisi/conditional order
- Affidavit and application for decree nisi/conditional
order to be reviewed by district judge
- Decree nisi/conditional order granted
- Apply for decree absolute with a court fee will apply.
Frequently Asked Questions.
I am still not sure that I want a divorce/dissolution. Can you advise me?
Deciding to legally end your relationship is a complex and entirely personal decision. While we are experts on the legal processes involved, we are not best placed to counsel you in respect of resolving the problems that have led you to consider legally ending your relationship. There are however a number of organisations that can assist you with this, and if you feel that reconciliation is a possibility, we are happy to supply you with their details.
Am I eligible for help regarding my legal fees for divorce/dissolution?
Legal Help allows people with a low income to get free legal advice and help from a solicitor or legal adviser. If you are receiving any of the following benefits, you are likely to be automatically entitled to Legal Help:
- Income Support
- Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Based Employment and Support Allowance
- Guarantee Pension Credit
The solicitor or adviser must have a contract with the Legal Services Commission (LSC) to be able to provide Legal Help. Proctor Moore is not able to provide assistance under the Legal Help scheme.
Will I need to attend court?
You may attend if you wish, however, there is no need for you to attend court for the decree nisi/conditional order unless there are any issues of costs to be decided.
What documents do I need to apply for a divorce/dissolution?
Before we start any legal work on your behalf, we will need to first obtain proof of identification and proof of address from you.
Before proceeding with your application for divorce/dissolution, we will require the original copy of your marriage certificate (not photocopies). If this is not available, you will need to contact the office of the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Civil Partnerships for the district in which you were married/entered into a civil partnership. Alternatively you may contact the Certificates Services section of the General Register Office. You will need to pay a fee to obtain a certified copy of your certificate.
I was married abroad. Does this matter?
If you have a foreign marriage certificate, we will need to obtain a certified translation. There will be an extra cost for this.
Are there any restrictions in respect of applying for a divorce/dissolution?
In order to obtain a divorce/dissolution, you must have been married or civilly partnered for a minimum of one year. If you have not been married or civilly partnered for this period, you may apply for a judicial separation. This is not the same a divorce/dissolution and will not enable you to remarry or enter another civil partnership.
In order to obtain a divorce/dissolution in this country there are certain requirements with regards to residence and domicile. If you and your spouse/civil partner are not habitually resident in England and Wales, or you have not been habitually resident in England and Wales for at least the preceding 12 months.
I also had a religious marriage. Will this also be terminated once I am divorced?
Divorce proceedings may not terminate the religious part of your marriage. You should therefore contact the appropriate religious authority authorising your marriage to obtain advise on any extra steps that you might need to take.
On what basis can I get a divorce/dissolution?
In order to obtain a divorce/dissolution it is necessary to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. To show this, one of the following five facts will be relied upon:
- Adultery: Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to continue living together. (NB – this ground is not available in respect of civil partnerships).
- Unreasonable Behaviour. Your spouse/civil partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live together.
- Two-Year Separation with Consent. You have been separated for 2 years and your spouse/civil partner agrees to divorce/dissolution.
- Five-Year Separation. You have been separated for 5 years.
- Desertion. Your spouse/civil partner deserted you more than 2 years ago.
These facts will be explained to you to establish which one is relevant to your case. We will then draft the divorce/dissolution petition on your behalf.
Do I have to pay my own costs, can’t I claim my costs from my spouse?
You will have to pay your costs to us before we can commence work on your behalf. It is possible in certain circumstances to claim the costs in connection to the divorce/dissolution procedure back from your spouse. Provided that your spouse/civil partner does not dispute any claim that you make for costs, we can proceed with your divorce/dissolution on the fixed fee basis. However if your spouse/civil partner does not agree with your claim for costs then your divorce/dissolution becomes a contested matter. Contested divorces/dissolutions are charged at our hourly rate rather on a fixed fee basis.
Will the divorce/dissolution include sorting out matters relating to the house, finances and children?
A divorce/dissolution is purely the legal termination of a marriage or civil partnership. If you have disputes about money or property these will not be covered in your fixed fee divorce/dissolution. Disputes about children are also separate.
The most cost effective way to sort out issues of finance, property and children is to negotiate an agreement between yourselves. If agreement is reached, we can draw up your agreement as a ‘consent order’. Once sealed by the court, this becomes a binding agreement which both parties have to honour.
If you are not able to agree, you may consider a number of options. These include, instructing a solicitor to negotiate on your behalf, mediation, or placing the matter before the courts so that a Judge can decide on a fair order. Before you can ask the court to intervene, you will have to obtain a decree nisi. Matters to resolve finances/property and arrangements for children can take many months to go through the courts and will therefore be more expensive.
There are a number of other issues that you may need to consider when you are obtaining a divorce and brief details are provided below
Legally ending a marriage or civil partnership will affect inheritance under an existing will. Where a former spouse or civil partner is named as a beneficiary, this will automatically be revoked once the marriage or civil partnership is legally ended. Until the marriage/civil partnership has ended however, any provision for a spouse or civil partner to benefit from your estate will be valid. Even if you do not have a will, your spouse or civil partner will still have a claim to your estate should you die before your divorce/dissolution is finalised. In these circumstances, you may wish to consult our wills specialist who will be happy to draft you a new will reflecting your wishes.
Equally, if you own property together as joint tenants, if you should die before your divorce/dissolution is finalised, your share will pass automatically to your spouse/civil partner regardless of any provision you make in a will for this to be different. You may therefore wish to change the type of ownership of your property while your divorce/dissolution is on going. We can help you with this and can offer this service at a fixed fee of £250 (including Vat).
Matrimonial home rights
As long as you are married or in a civil partnership, you will have home rights in respect of the family home (i.e. the house you live in as husband and wife or as civil partners) even if your spouse or civil partner owns the family home in their sole name. By registering your home rights, you will protect the numerous benefits that home rights give you. For example, where the property is in the sole name of your spouse/civil partner, home rights allow you to occupy the property and not be evicted by your spouse/civil partnership unless he/she obtains a court order to evict you. You will also have the right, if the court agrees, to go back and live in the family home if you have moved out. There are other key benefits, for example, while you occupy the property you can pay rent, mortgage instalments or any other outgoings and these will be accepted as if they were made by the owning spouse or civil partner. This is useful where a spouse or civil partner has left the property and defaulted on important payments. But perhaps the most important benefit is that registering your home rights could prevent your partner/spouse from selling the property or taking out further loans against it without your permission. If you are not the legal owner of your home (i.e. you are not mentioned on the title deeds), you should seek legal advice about home rights without delay. We offer registration of home rights for a fixed fee. Please enquire for further details.