Our specialist Divorce solicitors in London,
Southampton, can help you with divorce
proceedings. Divorce can be straightforward if both parties
agree that the marriage is over. Difficulties arise in
resolving how and when to separate, where to live, and
the arrangements for children and finances.
We offer a constructive and professional approach to divorce and
will help progress matters as quickly as possible. We
will be happy to discuss anything that is unclear or answer any
further questions you may have. Please view the
bookmarks below for further information.
who can start divorce proceedings?
Anyone who has been married for over a year, providing one of
the couple has their permanent home in England or Wales or has
been resident here for at least a year prior to when the divorce
petition is started. It doesn't matter where you were
how can a divorce be started?
The only ground for divorce is that
your marriage has “irretrievably broken down” and that, in
addition, one of five “facts” applies. The divorce petition
will only be accepted by the court if you can prove one of these
facts - below.
- Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it
impossible to continue to live with them.
- Your spouse’s behaviour has been so unreasonable that you can
no longer bear to live with them.
- Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period
of two years or more, against your wishes.
- You and your spouse have been living apart for
over two years and your spouse consents to a divorce.
- You and your spouse have been living apart for
over five years (consent not required).
if one of the five facts applies, what happens
It is often sensible to try to obtain your spouse's consent to
the divorce and try to reach agreement over the contents of the
petition. Every petition follows the same format. It
contains basic information about you and your spouse, addresses,
the ages of any children and a statement that the marriage has
“irretrievably broken down” and the “fact” that applies. The
petition will include a section known as a “prayer”, which will
include a request for the divorce to be granted. It may also
include a request for financial provision and a claim regarding the
legal costs of the divorce. Your original marriage
certificate is sent to the court with the petition, and will not be
what about the children?
A form is also sent to the court with the divorce petition which
will outline the arrangements relating to your children. The
law encourages couples to try to agree those arrangements.
The Statement of Arrangements for Children is usually
completed by the person filing the petition. It should be
sent to the other spouse before it is filed. If
agreement is not reached, this does not prevent
the divorce from proceeding.
how long does the divorce process take?
The divorce takes approximately four to six months, although the
Decree Absolute is often not obtained until the finances are
resolved. This may be much later.
how will assets be divided?
The most difficult and often the most emotive aspect
of a relationship breakdown is the task of dividing up the assets.
Our team can help you to negotiate an appropriate financial
settlement and advise you how the courts will work out what each
party should have. There is a misconception that assets are
always divided equally. There is a statutory checklist of
mattes that have to be considered set out in s25 of the
Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The court will always give top
priority to the welfare of any children under the age of 18
years. The other factors are:
- the income and earning capacity of each party, the property
they own and other financial resources they each have
- each party's financial needs, obligations and liabilities
- the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
- the length of the marriage and the ages of the parties
- any physical or mental disability either party suffers
- contributions made by each of the parties to the marriage both
financially and otherwise
- any behaviour by either of the parties which is so serious that
it cannot be ignored by the judge
- the value of any benefit which either of the parties will lose
the opportunity of acquiring as a result of divorce, such as
pension and insurance benefits.
The court has a wide discretion as to how to apply these factors
to a particular case. The aim is to achieve a fair division of the
assets and income. To that end the court will require both parties
to make full and frank disclosure to each other of their financial
As well as considering the matrimonial
home, investments,savings and pensions, we can advise you
about inherited assets, assets that were acquired before the
relationship and after the separation, family businesses and the
effect of pre-nuptial agreements. We have expertise in dealing with
divorce and separation issues involving equestrian assets, farms
and inherited property (view the link for more information on our
rural sector) or where you have property in France.
Given that this aspect is often the most costly to deal with,
our team will encourage you to try and reach an agreement without
court proceedings, but will advise you if you reach a point where
court is the most appropriate way to proceed. Each case is
different and we need to consider your individual circumstances to
properly advise you.
what if assets are being disposed of?
In some cases it is necessary to take urgent steps to prevent
the disposal of assets during divroce proceedings. An application
can be made to the court to either freeze assets or direct how they
may be used pending any final court decision. We have
wide-ranging experience of making and succeeding in these
what if there is a family business?
We frequently act in cases where a key asset to be taken into
account is a significant shareholding or other form of investment
(such as a share option) in a company or other business entity – in
some cases, a larger company which has bought out the original
business for a non cash consideration. Key issues which often arise
- valuation of shares or other interests in a company or
- commercial procedures for realisation of such interests and
arrangements for their division between the parties
- arrangements for ongoing management and funding of such
- tax treatment of such matters.
We have strong links with well-respected accountants who can
assist when required.
are there any adverse implications from splitting up but
not actually getting a divorce?
Potentially yes. Until you have received the Decree Absolute
from the court you are technically still married and this can
result in unexpected financial consequences. For example, if
several years after separating you receive a large
inheritance or a lottery win then your spouse may be entitled to
claim some of your windfall if they are still legally married
to you. In addition, if you die, then your spouse may be able to
make a claim against your estate, or if you jointly own a property,
this may pass to the co-owner, regardless of what your Will may
can we help if there has been domestic violence
or a threat of domestic violence?
We can assist in taking emergency steps to prevent physical harm
to a family member. The court has wide-ranging powers to make
non-molestation and occupation orders to protect against
domestic violence and harassment. We are in a position to
deal with these very sensitive matters on your behalf and obtain
injunctive orders quickly and economically.
common terms used in family law
- Affidavit – a sworn document.
- Decree Nisi – the court’s certificate that you are entitled to
- Decree Absolute – the document that shows that you are divorced
and able to remarry.
- Petitioner – the person bringing the proceedings.
- Respondent – the person responding.
- Ancillary relief/financial remedies – the term for sorting
out the financial matters.
- Form E - the detailed financial statement that has to be filled
in whenever an application for orders of a financial nature is
filed at court.