The annual statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics demonstrate that almost half of marriages sadly end in divorce. Fortunately whilst spouses may never see eye to eye on the actual reasons why their marriage has ended, almost all divorce cases themselves proceed on an uncontested basis rather unfortunately described by the tabloids as a “quickie” divorce. Contested divorces are extremely expensive and unsurprisingly very rare for that very reason. Even though most divorces proceed on a paperwork basis without the need for any Court appearances, the forms and documentation remain complicated and daunting and have to be perfectly drafted to avoid rejection by the Court.
You must have been married for at least a year before the Court will even entertain Divorce proceedings. The Court must then be satisfied that your marriage has “irretrievably broken down” which in crystal clear language means that if you wish to commence the divorce you must believe that the marriage has no future. You must also establish at least one of the following five factual matters:-
- Your spouse has committed adultery
- Your spouse has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to go on living together.
- Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of at least two years.
- You and your spouse have lived apart for at least two years and your spouse consents to a divorce.
- You and your spouse have lived apart for at least five years whether or not your spouse consents to a divorce.
Unlike Divorce, with Judicial Separation neither of you have have to believe that the marriage has “irretrievably broken down” although at least one of the five factual matters referred to above must be present and again, you must have been married for at least one year. The marriage is not brought to an end by the Court but it can still make orders to settle your financial affairs in relation to maintenance and property claims.
What actually happens?:
All of our specialist family lawyers can help you with the necessary paperwork to issue the Divorce or Judicial Separation documentation known as a Petition. If you have relevant children then a form known as a Statement of Arrangements must also be completed by you. The Court serve the Petition upon your spouse who is then known as the Respondent. Within 8 days the Respondent should file the Acknowledgement of Service and the Court will send you or your solicitors a copy of the Acknowledgement filed by the Respondent. Further paperwork then needs to be prepared to make an application to the Court for what is known as Decree Nisi in Divorce proceedings and for what is known is a Decree of Judicial Separation in Judicial Separation proceedings. These documents include the Petitioner having to swear an Affidavit confirming the information that is in the Petition and Statement of Arrangements. The Court will then fix a date for Decree Nisi or for the Decree of Judicial Separation to be pronounced. In relation to Divorce you can apply for the Decree Absolute which is the Decree terminating the marriage in divorce proceedings 6 weeks and one day after the pronouncement of Decree Nisi. The Decree Absolute cannot be made until the Judge is satisfied with the arrangements for any children. It should be remembered that when the Court makes a Decree Absolute the marriage is over and spouses are no longer husband and wife. If one spouse has a pension and then dies, the other not ex-spouse could well have lost the valuable widow or widowers pension which can never be refunded or replaced. It is very important not to apply for Decree Absolute until you have taken advice on the implications of loss of automatic benefits which will occur. It should also be remembered that on remarriage you can actually lose the right to make an application for a financial remedy if you have not already applied to the Court within the divorce proceedings before your remarriage. Ideally you should ensure that your financial remedy settlement is completely concluded and approved by the Court before the Decree Absolute is applied for let alone granted by the Court due to the effect this can have not only in relation to your National Insurance contributions but also in relation to your pension entitlement or the loss of pension entitlement which might accrue to you or your ex-spouse. It should be remembered that your rights to occupy your matrimonial home if not in joint names comes to an end upon the making of Decree Absolute even if you have registered your matrimonial home rights with the Land Registry or Land Charges Department. See our Financial Remedy settlements page for more detailed information.
Fixed fee Divorce/Fixed fee Judicial Separation:
- Straightforward, uncontested and without complication £400.00 plus VAT and Court fees.
- Negotiations and communications with the other spouse and solicitor £600.00 plus VAT and Court fees.
- Complex - hourly rate plus VAT and Court fees