Divorce is an emotionally and legally significant time, but with the right support the process itself does not need to be contentious or confusing.
We have helped thousands of people with divorce or dissolution and offer a personal service specific to your needs with all the explanation and guidance necessary.
Our team is led by Emma Baillie who has 20 years’ experience in advising on separation. We pride ourselves on plain speaking and empathy to help our clients to a positive outcome.
See below our FAQs about Divorce
Below are the answers to the questions our specialist divorce solicitors are most commonly asked. The information reflects the changes to divorce law on 6 April 2022 which included simplifying the procedure and language used and removing the requirement to provide evidence of behaviour or separation.
For more information about how we work, please get in touch with Emma and her team by emailing email@example.com or giving us a call on 0203 440 8000.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the grounds for divorce?
There is only one ground for divorce, that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The divorce application simply states this. No other reasoning is required.
Will I have to attend court?
The divorce process is usually a written exercise only using the online digital service and, unless one party says there is a procedural reason the divorce should not go ahead, or there is a dispute over who pays the costs of the divorce, then there should be no need for either party to attend court.
How does a divorce start?
A divorce is started by an application being submitted to the court. This can be done by one party to the marriage or both jointly. The decision on whether to apply solely or jointly is made at the start of the process. If it is decided that one of the parties will be the sole applicant this cannot change to a joint application later. The application states that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
How long does a divorce take?
After submitting the divorce application the law provides for a “period of reflection” which is a minimum of 20 weeks. After that, the applicant(s) notify the court that they still want to go ahead with the divorce and the conditional order is made. Six weeks later they can apply for the conditional order to be made into a final divorce order. Therefore it is a minimum of 26 weeks, six months, from start to finish.
Depending on financial arrangements it may be necessary or sensible to wait to apply for the final divorce order.
Do I need my marriage certificate to get divorced?
Yes. You are required to submit your marriage certificate to the court with your application for a divorce. The marriage certificate also contains information that is needed to draft the divorce application.
In most cases the marriage certificate is scanned in to be sent electronically through the digital application process. The scanned copy must be of the original marriage certificate or a formal certified copy. If you have lost your certificate or you do not have it in your possession, then you can apply for a further copy for a small fee at the General Register Office or sometimes the venue where the marriage took place.
If you are required to send a hard copy of the marriage certificate be aware that the court will retain it although it may be possible to apply specifically for its return at a later date.
I was married abroad and my marriage certificate is not in English, does this matter?
You will need to obtain a translation of the certificate for the court. As stated, the marriage certificate will also contain important information that is needed to complete the divorce petition which will have to be prepared in English.
The court will only accept translations that have been carried out in accordance with the family court rules and certified by a translator and therefore legal advice is required to make sure the requirements are satisfied.
Can I name the party in the divorce petition that my spouse was adulterous with?
This is no longer possible. While some people feel that the reason a marriage broke down, including infidelity, should dictate the basis for a divorce, the changes brought in now exclude this, in favour of a neutral statement that the relationship has broken down, in the hope that this will allow a constructive and non-confrontational end to the marriage.
What happens if my ex defends the divorce?
Only a tiny number of divorces are defended and this number will shrink even further with the changes that came in on 6 April 2022. It is not possible to defend a divorce because one party does not wish to separate. We predict that removing the need to give a reason for the divorce will also reduce the possibility of disagreements.
Now one party can only try to stop a divorce if
- There is another country that should be deciding the divorce rather than England and Wales
- The marriage is not valid or has already been dissolved
- At the time of the marriage there was fraud or other procedural issues
Can I defend the divorce petition my ex has put in to court?
If you think your circumstances might fall into the narrow areas for defending a divorce then we can advise on whether the court is likely to agree with you. The procedure to defend a divorce is fairly complicated. It will require at least two court attendances with the cost and delay that that entails.
My ex won’t confirm that they’ve received the divorce papers. What should I do?
In the case of a sole applicant, the other party is known as a respondent. The court writes to the respondent letting them know that the divorce application has been issued and sending them a link to the digital portal where they are to complete the acknowledgement of service form. If the sole applicant does not have a postal address for the respondent, but has an email address an application can be made to the court for permission to notify the respondent of the divorce by email only.
If the respondent does not complete the acknowledgement of service form the court will accept lots of different types of evidence that they have had the divorce application even though they have not returned the necessary form to say so. Failing that, we can arrange for them to be handed the documents personally by a bailiff. The court would then be satisfied by that bailiff’s evidence that the respondent knows about the divorce and application would be allowed to proceed. There are other routes too depending on your circumstances so it is important not to panic.
I am in a civil partnership and want to bring it to an end. Is there a different process to divorce?
With the advent of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 the procedure for divorce and dissolution is exactly the same.
What are the costs of divorce?
The cost will depend upon the level of agreement between the parties about arrangements for the divorce. In addition to our fees, the court charges a fee for processing the case which is currently £593. It is possible to make an application to court for an order that your ex pay some or all of these costs.
What difference does it make to have a lawyer who is a Resolution member acting for me in my divorce?
Resolution is an organisation that most family lawyers belong to. All divorce solicitors at TV Edwards are members. We are committed to constructive dealings to minimise the emotional and financial cost of a divorce and related issues. This does not mean we do not protect your interests robustly, but the idea is that letters and documents will be considerately worded and take into account the long-term effects of what is done and said at the time of separation. This is especially important where there are children as a divorcing couple will have to have some form of relationship even once the marriage is formally over.
Does divorce decide where our children live?
No. The court does not have to decide where your children live or who they spend time with in order for your divorce to be finalised. The vast majority of separating parents decide between themselves how their children should divide their time without recourse to anyone else. In those circumstances no order is made governing the children’s time. If parents cannot agree then one of them can apply to the court for a judge to make a decision, although we encourage parents to try mediation or negotiation supported by solicitors before taking such a formal step. In any case, the divorce procedure is entirely separate.
How are financial claims dealt with?
Ending a marriage or civil partnership does not automatically deal with the financial claims that both parties have against each other. Financial claims can be made by either party over matrimonial assets whether held in joint names or in one party’s sole name and the court can make a range of orders to divide those assets. The court also has the power to make orders relating to maintenance and pensions.
Financial claims can only be finalised by way of a court order, either one made by the court of its own volition or by approving an agreement reached between the parties. Up to, and until, an order is made, it is possible for either party to make a claim against the assets of the other party, even many years after the divorce has been finalised.
Can we convert our civil partnership into a marriage?
Couples who registered a civil partnership in England and Wales have been able convert this to marriage since 10 December 2014. Couples can hold a ceremony or have a simple conversion at a register office and obtain a marriage certificate which is backdated to the date of the civil partnership. No involvement from lawyers is required. We understand why many couples wish to convert, although the legal protections marriage provides are the same as civil partnerships and therefore the benefit in converting is personal rather than legal.