Divorce & Separation
Going through separation or divorce can be incredibly painful and the consequences far-reaching – particularly when there are children involved.
At Silk Family Law we appreciate the difficult situations that can arise when a relationship breaks down, and our experienced team will work with you to identify early on what the main issues are likely to be in your particular case - and how they may be resolved.
Our team is compassionate, whilst understanding the financial realities of life, and will apply their extensive experience and knowledge to your personal situation to help you reach solutions that are right for you.
We talk you through the options available for divorce, including mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and the court. We do not automatically assume that a court-based approach is the best route if our discussions suggest that alternatives would help you reach more equitable and fair outcomes. However, sometimes there is no alternative to court, and we will be there to support and advise at every step.
It is important to have clear objectives at the outset. Our in-house barrister Ian Kennerley can provide an early appraisal with continuity of advice and representation, if required, throughout your case. Chambers UK recently described him as “highly regarded for handling complex divorce and separation proceedings”.
We work with clients across the UK. You can visit us at our offices in Newcastle, North Yorkshire or Leeds, or in our consulting rooms in York, Leeds and London. We offer consultations via Skype and Zoom too.
What are the grounds for divorce?
There is one ground for divorce in England and Wales – the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
Before 6 April 2022, this had to be established by one of five facts: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation with consent or five years separation without consent.
Now, under the new ‘no-fault divorce’ law, the reason for the breakdown of the marriage is no longer required. All that one or both parties have to do when applying for divorce, is make a statement of irretrievable breakdown.
Furthermore, in the vast majority of cases, the reason for the breakdown of the marriage no longer affects entitlement to a fair share of the matrimonial assets or any child arrangements.
How do I choose a solicitor?
It is possible to divorce without a solicitor. But do bear in mind that the decisions made during the divorce process (particularly in relation to financial issues) will impact you for the rest of your life. Proceeding without the advice of an expert is therefore risky.
We recommend instructing a specialist family solicitor who is a member of Resolution. Resolution is an organisation of family lawyers which promotes a constructive and amicable way of navigating the divorce process. All Resolution-accredited lawyers sign up to the Resolution Code of Practice, which ensures high standards of working practices. The code includes a commitment to acting with honest, integrity and objectivity as well as reducing conflict and putting the interests of children first.
Silk Family Law has compiled a list of ways in which you can make the most of your divorce lawyer, and ensure that you are using your family solicitor in the most cost-effective way.
Here at Silk, all our practitioners are family law specialists and we are able to advise on all issues surrounding relationship breakdown.
What is involved in the divorce process?
Since 6 April 2022, a ‘no-fault divorce’ can be submitted online either via a sole or joint application.
- The applicant completes the divorce application and makes a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Once the divorce application has been issued, the respondent must respond to the divorce application in the Acknowledgement of Service online.
- Once the divorce application has been issued by the Court, the parties have a period of 20 weeks in which they are expected to reflect on the breakdown of the marriage and ensure that they are making the right decision in applying for the divorce.
- 20 weeks from the date of issue of the divorce application, the applicant can make an application for the “Conditional Order”. This confirms the applicant has established the marriage has brown down irretrievably and is entitled to a “Final Order” to end the marriage.
- Six weeks and one day following the pronouncement of the “Conditional Order”, the applicant may apply for the “Final Order” to end the marriage and the parties will be formally divorced.
- It is good practice to give seven days’ notice of your intention to apply for the divorce so you can agree to proceed with a joint application. A joint application demonstrates a common intention to dissolve the marriage.
- In a joint application, the parties will be referred to as “applicant 1” and “applicant 2”. Applicant 1 will take the lead in the application. Once applicant 1 has completed their side divorce application, this is sent to applicant 2 to complete and confirm the statement of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Applicant 1 will file the application with the Court.
- Once the divorce application has been issued, both applicants must respond to the divorce application using the Acknowledgement of Service online.
- Once the divorce application has been issued by the Court, the parties have the same 20-week period of reflection to ensure they are making the right decision in applying for the divorce.
- 20 weeks from the date of issue of the divorce application, the applicants can jointly make an application for the “Conditional Order”. This confirms the parties have established the marriage has brown down irretrievably and is entitled to a “Final Order” to end the marriage.
- Six weeks and one day following the pronouncement of the “Conditional Order”, the applicants can jointly apply for the “Final Order” to end the marriage and the parties will be formally divorced.
- If at any point in the process, one of the applicants does not wish to progress the divorce jointly, one party can make an application to switch to a sole application so progress can be made in the divorce.
You can no longer defend a divorce. A respondent may dispute a divorce on the limited grounds of the jurisdiction (which country the divorce was issued in), the validity of the marriage, fraud or a procedural defect.
How long does a divorce take?
It is only possible to get a divorce if you have been married for more than one year.
Once initiated, the divorce process will take a minimum of six months even if your circumstances are straightforward. It may take longer if you have issues with money, property or children to resolve.
From the date the court issues your divorce application, you must wait 20 weeks before you apply for a “Conditional Order” and a further six weeks before you apply for the “Final Order” which formally ends the marriage.
How much does a divorce cost?
The Court fee is £593 which is payable when you file your divorce application with the Court. As the new ‘no-fault divorce’ law does not assign blame to one party, parties are discouraged from claiming their legal costs in the divorce application. However, it is still possible to claim costs and we can advise you concerning an application if this is appropriate.
Alternatives to divorce
You can choose to separate but not divorce, although it is not possible to reach a binding settlement in relation to your finances in the absence of divorce proceedings.
More information on options for alternative dispute resolution can be found on our Financial provision page.
If you would like to discuss any issues arising from relationship breakdown including advice on getting a divorce, please don’t hesitate to contact us by calling your nearest office (Silk Family Law North East 0191 500 0777 or Silk Family Law Yorkshire 01748 900 888) or filling in the form on this page to request a call back.
"They gave me amazing support and navigated me through the system - I could not have been in better hands."
"Worthy of national recognition: they are very much a firm that I would use for a client anywhere in the country."
"Silk Family Law has notable strength in dealing with high-value separation cases involving inheritance, tax, trust or pension issues. Its high-quality team demonstrates experience advising on wealth protection and the negotiation of nuptial agreements, as well as challenges to such arrangements."
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