Common Questions About Getting Divorced Answered
Getting divorced is one of life’s most stressful events. Even if you and your spouse have amicably agreed that your relationship cannot continue, having to separate your finances, make arrangements for your children, and build a new life as a single person can be challenging even under the best of circumstances. To help you navigate the divorce system in England and Wales, our Divorce Law Solicitors, who are members of Resolution, have answered some of the most common questions they are asked regarding ending a marriage or civil partnership.
What are the grounds for divorce in England and Wales?
At present, the only ground for divorce is that the marriage has irrevocably broken down because of:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- You have lived apart for more than two years, and both agree to the divorce
- You have lived apart for at least five years (no consent from the other spouse required)
Most divorce petitions list adultery or unreasonable behaviour as a reason for their marriage irretrievably breaking down. If you are citing the latter, you will need to provide examples and your Divorce Solicitor will advise you on how best to do this.
But wait, isn’t divorce law changing?
Yes, it is. But unfortunately, not until spring 2022.
Under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act (DDSA 2020), neither party has to ‘blame’ the other for the marriage breaking down. Instead, one or both spouses simply need to make a statement that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. Furthermore, one spouse cannot challenge the divorce in order to prevent it from happening. The Court must accept the statement provided and make an order for divorce.
A significant advantage of the new divorce law is that it provides a foundation for couples to amicably complete divorce negotiations around the financial settlement and arrangements for children as no one is made to feel they are at fault.
Should I wait for the new divorce laws to come into force?
It depends on your circumstances. If there is little animosity between you and your spouse and you are fairly confident that the financial settlement and arrangements for your children can be worked out harmoniously it is unlikely to cause you any detriment if you wait until the DDSA 2020 comes into force. In situations where there is a history of domestic abuse or significant animosity between you and your spouse, however, it may be in your best interests to start the divorce process immediately. Before you decide either way, talk to your Divorce Solicitor.
If I decide to file for divorce now, what do I need to do?
Before you file for a divorce you need to:
- Check that you have been married for one year – if not, you will have to wait until 12 months have passed.
- Ascertain whether or not you can get divorced in England and Wales. For high-net-worth and international couples the jurisdiction in which the divorce is heard can be extremely important in terms of the financial settlement. If you have any questions regarding jurisdictional matters, talk to an experienced Divorce Solicitor immediately.
- Collate the necessary documents you will need to work out the financial settlement. These include; bank statements, insurance policies, investment documents, and information about pensions and mortgages.
Once you have all this information and have spoken to a Divorce Solicitor you will be ready to file your Petition.
How do I choose a Divorce Solicitor?
Your Divorce Solicitor will be your rock during the divorce process, therefore, it is essential to instruct one who you like and trust. Look at the accreditations of the law firm they work at as these can tell you how much time and effort the practice invests in reaching and maintaining high standards of quality and client care. Common accreditations related to family law include:
- Lexcel – a Law Society quality mark that confirms a law firm has reached high levels of performance in client care, risk management, people management, structure and strategy, financial management, information management, file and case management.
- Resolution – an organisation of 6,500 family law practitioners who follow a Code of Practice which focuses on resolving family law disputes in a non-confrontational way. Members of the organisation are also involved in changing family law legislation and policy to ensure families, and especially children, are well served by the family law system.
- Children law accreditation – Solicitors who hold a Children Law Accreditation are recognised by the Law Society of England and Wales as specialists in dealing with legal issues relating to children.
It is important to speak to a few Solicitors, so you get a feel as to who is the right person to ensure your objectives as far as the financial settlement are reached. In complex cases such as high-net-worth and/or international divorce or situations involving domestic abuse, it is vital that you choose someone who has experience advising and representing clients with similar backgrounds.
Getting divorced is never easy but taking the time to understand the process and choosing the right Divorce Lawyer will help make the process as stress-free as possible for you and your children.
Our Family Law Solicitors can advise you on all aspects od divorce. To make an appointment, please call us on 02476 231000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.