1. When can I get divorced?
Divorce will usually only be granted once the financial and child issues arising from your separation are resolved either through negotiation, or if that is not possible, by orders of the court. If matters can be dealt with by agreement, divorce can be granted one year after you have separated – with your spouse's consent. No consent is required if you apply to the court for a divorce after you have been separated for over two years. It is also possible to seek to divorce your spouse on the basis of their adultery or unreasonable behaviour. It is open to you to do so any time after the separation date, although as above, the financial and child matters will usually require to be resolved before the divorce is granted by the court. If matters can be dealt with on the basis of your non-cohabitation for one or two years, that is generally regarded as the better approach, as it avoids 'blaming' the other for the breakdown in the relationship.
2. Will I have to go to court?
Litigation is regarded as the last resort and we do our best to avoid contested cases. If, however, the financial and child issues cannot be resolved, court action may be necessary.
If relations between you and your spouse are amicable and you are both prepared to be open and honest with each other, there are a variety of ways you can work together to reach agreement, such as Collaborative practice or mediation.
3. What arrangements should be put in place for the children?
It is best if decisions in relation to the children, such as where they will live and how often they will see each parent, are decided between you and your spouse. If matters cannot be agreed, the use of mediation is encouraged. If matter cannot be agreed directly or through mediation, it may be necessary to raise court proceedings, but this is generally regarded as a last resort.
4. What happens to our finances and where do I live?
Whilst you remain married to one another you have a duty to support one another financially. Arrangements for child maintenance will also require to be put in place- this is paid by the non-resident parent. While you remain married to one another, regardless of whether title to the matrimonial home is in joint names, you are entitled to remain within the family home (other than in exceptional circumstances) pending a decision as to what is to happen to the property in the longer term.
All of the assets and liabilities built up during the marriage, in your joint or sole names, are 'matrimonial' and are taken into account in determining the value of the matrimonial 'pot' and how it is to be divided on divorce. The exceptions to this are gifts received from a third party during the marriage or inherited assets. If, however, the gift or inheritance in converted into another asset during the marriage (e.g. to purchase a house), that asset becomes matrimonial property. In those circumstances an argument can be advanced that account ought to be taken of the fact that the asset was derived from non-matrimonial funds.
5. How much will my divorce cost?
It is difficult to predict with certainty at the outset the costs involved in this process. This may be clearer following your initial meeting and a response from your spouse. We regularly send interim bills so clients are aware of their legal costs. We may be able to offer a fixed fee for undefended divorce applications.