Receiving expert advice in the early stages of your separation will prove invaluable in giving you the confidence to approach the practical considerations associated with your separation such as addressing the care arrangements for your children and obtaining financial security in the immediate and longer-term.
Amanda Long, Family Lawyer, at Marsden Rawsthorn, answers frequently asked questions and offers practical steps to take when preparing for a divorce.
Am I entitled to apply for a divorce?
Presently, the law in England and Wales states that you must have been married to your spouse for at least 12 months before you can present a Divorce Petition (application) to the Court. In addition to this requirement, you must be able to prove that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. This is done by citing one of the five legal ‘facts’: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation with your spouse’s consent; and five years separation which does not require consent.
This will change in autumn 2021 when new provisions will be introduced, allowing for a ‘no fault’ divorce. The changes are eagerly awaited.
How long does it take to obtain a divorce?
Whilst the process usually takes approximately 6-8 months, the current COVID-19 situation is inevitably having an impact on the timescale. In any event, the time it will take to conclude your divorce very much depends on your particular circumstances. Negotiating and agreeing to the terms of your financial settlement, which is likely to include decisions as to what should happen to the family home, division of matrimonial capital and pension funds, can often lead to an application for Decree Absolute, which dissolves the marriage, being postponed until a financial order has been approved by the Court.
Do I need a financial Court Order?
It is strongly advised that you obtain a financial order, although it is not mandatory to do so. A financial order, once approved by the Court, is a legally binding document that directs how the financial matters arising from your separation are to be resolved. This can include a lump sum order, property adjustment order, pension sharing order and spousal maintenance provisions. Where spouses have agreed, or the Court has determined, that you and your spouse should be financially self-sufficient following your divorce, the order will include what is known as a ‘clean break’, which is a complete dismissal of all claims that either of you may be entitled to bring against the other in respect of income, capital, property and pensions at any time in the future. Even in cases where there are no matrimonial assets for division, obtaining a ‘clean break’ order is still advised. This is in order to provide certainty and protection against the possibility of your former spouse attempting to make a future financial claim against you, in relation to the marriage, even after you are divorced.
Applying for divorce – what do I need to do now?
To apply for a divorce, you will need your original marriage certificate or a certified copy. In preparation for discussing the financial matters arising from your separation, you should start to collate your financial documentation relating to your income and capital positions. Additionally, you should obtain market appraisals of your property and an up to date valuation of your pension fund(s).
How much does it cost to obtain a divorce?
Marsden Rawsthorn is able to advise and assist you with the divorce procedure and process for a fixed fee of £595 plus VAT in the event that your spouse does not defend the divorce proceedings. Acting for you on a fixed fee basis gives you clarity and certainty as to the costs of your representation. Upon issue of the Divorce Petition, you will be required to pay a Court fee of £550. We will, however, assess your level of income to check whether you would be entitled to an exemption or part-remission of the Court fee. In certain circumstances, it is possible to seek recovery of your divorce costs from your spouse. We are also able to provide advice and assistance in relation to other issues arising from your separation including agreeing on the long term care arrangements for your children and achieving a fair and reasonable financial settlement. A tailored estimate of costs in relation to these matters will be provided to you upon consultation.
Amanda Long is an experienced family lawyer specialising in all aspects of family law and is committed to resolving matters as swiftly, amicably and as cost-effectively as possible. Contact Amanda on 01253 237512 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free confidential initial consultation.