Today the Government have announced there will be new legislation in divorce law. This new law will update the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in due course. It will mean that, in the future when the legislation comes into force, divorcing couples will no longer have to ‘blame’ each other for the breakdown of their marriage. It is hoped the new law will help reduce family conflict.
We can assist you in arranging matters following the breakdown of a relationship, whether you are married or in a cohabiting relationship.
We appreciate separation is not easy and that there are often issues that require the services of a lawyer.
42% of marriages now end in divorce and the figures are likely to be similar for civil partnerships. Separation and divorce can be a stressful and upsetting time, even more so when children are involved. Our experienced Family Team can be relied upon to be by your side throughout the process.
Even in cases where the separation is amicable and on “friendly” terms, advice from an impartial, professional lawyer can help to resolve issues constructively and dispassionately.
When you deal with Hughes Paddison you will be treated personably and professionally. Our Clients tell us time and time again that they feel we have treated them as an individual and that we have worked with them to find a solution that suits their needs and that of their specific circumstances.
Our specialist lawyers will work with you to understand your particular needs and circumstances, bringing a pragmatic and cost effective approach to the changes in your relationship. When you contact us we will explain in clear and simple language the options available to you, the likely timescales and costs. We will keep you informed at every stage of the process.
Some of the more common issues that arise involving separation are:
- Child matters (commonly referred to as custody, access, residence or living with arrangements)
- Financial support.
- Property issues.
- Financial, pension or business disputes.
- Disagreements around previously agreed pre-nuptial arrangements or co-habitation agreements.
- Cases involving an element of domestic abuse.
Some frequently asked questions are answered below. For more details please contact one of the Hughes Paddison Family Law team.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to wait one year before I can divorce?
The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 governs the procedure and rules for divorce in England and Wales. The Act requires you to have been married for a minimum of one year before you can institute divorce proceedings. There are however special circumstances which may mean that a divorce is null and void in the first place. For further advice as to what would constitute a null and void marriage ceremony please contact one of our experts.
What is a no fault divorce?
There is only one ground for divorce and that is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This is supported by one of the five supporting facts. Two of the five facts are “fault-based”. These are based upon the respondent's adultery or unreasonable behaviour.
The following three facts that can be relied upon are a period of two years separation (where consent is required), five years separation (consent is not required) or desertion. If you cannot establish desertion or the time requirement for separation, the Petition will need to be based on a fault.
It is for a Judge to scrutinise the allegation of behaviour whether or not this is unreasonable behaviour or adultery. In the case of an allegation of adultery the respondent may be willing to admit to the adultery. In both cases you must establish that as a result of the wrongdoing, you find it intolerable to live with your spouse.
How much does it cost to get a divorce?
The Divorce Petition fee (fee payable to the Court to issue the Divorce Petition) is currently £550. From time to time the Court service review their fees. The link to check Court fees in family applications is here.
In the event you are struggling to pay the Petition fee as a result of low income or reliance on certain benefits, it may well be that the Court service deem that you are eligible to apply for a fee exemption so that that Petition fee can be waived or discounted. To check your eligibility you should look this up and we refer to the fee exemption page of the Court users website . You may wish to contact Hughes Paddison to discuss this matter further.
Can you do a “quickie divorce” online?
Further to trialling an online procedure, the Court has now launched a portal where individuals can apply to the Court for divorce proceedings online. On the portal you can upload your details, prepare the Petition, submit the Petition and screenshot your original marriage certificate.
How long will a divorce take?
On average, in a straight forward divorce, from the date the Petition is issued to conclusion by way of Decree Absolute, the process can take between 4 to 6 months. Timescales depend upon individual circumstances. The process could take longer for a variety of reasons. There are several factors that may need to be considered and taken into account during the process, such as resolving matrimonial financial claims. Some divorcing couples are able to do this by agreement within the average timeframe for a divorce. Sometimes couples are unable to reach a resolution quite so quickly and matters can become protracted.
What if I can't find my spouses whereabouts? Can I still get a divorce?
The whereabouts of your spouse is an important piece of information but we appreciate this information is not always known. The first step would be to make every effort to contact your spouse through friends, family, their employer and their last known address and email address. Investigations can also be made through private investigators or tracing companies for a fee. Depending on the results of this, a decision can be made as to the most appropriate address to use for your spouse in your Petition. Our expert team can provide further advice about what to do in your particular circumstances.
What do I do if I receive divorce papers?
If you have received divorce papers it is important not to ignore them. You are required to complete a form called the Acknowledgement of Service and send this back to the Court. This asks a number of questions about your marriage and gives you an opportunity to comment on the divorce petition and, importantly, the issue of costs if your spouse is asking you to pay their legal costs. You may wish to contact Hughes Paddison for clear advice and assistance in completing this form as we consider this is a stage in the divorce process where legal advice is important.
What do I do if my husband/wife doesn't acknowledge the Divorce Petition?
Before you are able to progress your divorce, the Court has to be sure that your spouse has received the Petition. This is usually done by returning the Acknowledgement of Service form to the Court. If this is not done by your spouse, it may be necessary for the papers to be personally served upon them or make one of a number of other applications to the Court depending on the circumstances.
Call 01242 574244 or contact us to find out how we can help you with divorce and separation matters.