Divorce and Separation Advice

As specialist Divorce lawyers we will guide you through a divorce or separation, listening to your needs and those of any children and offering you divorce advice, information, reassurance, support and guidance.

Divorce advice

Most of us will know someone who is experiencing or has experienced a divorce at some stage. Divorce settlements and the quality of good divorce advice are much talked about but it’s very different when it’s happening to you.

Family and friends often provide their opinions on what you should or should not do and sometimes this can be confusing. Remember; every marriage is different and as a result every divorce is different. As specialist Divorce lawyers we will guide you through a divorce or separation, listening to your needs and those of any children and offering you divorce advice, information, reassurance, support and guidance.

On 6 April 2022, the Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act came into force. This radically changed the way in which couples are able to end their marriages or civil partnerships. The new divorce law removes the need for either party to cast blame on the other or for a couple to have been separated for a finite period of time. Instead, there are two simple requirements; Firstly, the parties to the marriage or civil partnership must have been married for at least 12 months and secondly the applicant has to state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down (this is achieved by ticking a box on a form).

The couple will need to decide whether they wish to deal with the divorce proceedings jointly or whether it will be a sole application. Birketts can advise you which might be best given your personal circumstances.

All divorce proceedings are now online. Birketts staff are adept at dealing with the online divorce portal.

We will prepare the divorce application and provide you with a copy for approval. It would be usual to send an advance copy to the other party before the application is submitted to the court. 

In the event of a joint application, the draft form is sent by the court service via their portal to the other party for them to check that the information on the form is correct before the divorce proceedings are officially “issued”. 

Irrespective of whether the matter proceeds as a sole application or joint application, the person receiving the divorce application will need to respond. This is dealt with online and is a simple request asking for confirmation of contact details and whether or not the respondent intends to dispute the divorce (under the new law a divorce can only be disputed if the respondent believes the court does not have jurisdiction to entertain the proceedings  – this may be the case where the parties could divorce in another jurisdiction/country, the marriage is not valid (this gives rise to a number of technical legal arguments and it is best to seek legal advice on this point), or the marriage has already legally ended (in some cases this might be possible, especially if a divorce has taken place abroad). 

The case then enters a “holding phase” for 20 weeks. At the expiration of 20 weeks it will be possible for the applicant(s) to apply to the court for a Conditional Order. This is a very straight forward process. In the event of a joint applicant, both applicants need to make that application on an individual basis. 

Once the applicant(s) has applied for a Conditional Order, the papers will be considered by a Legal Advisor (a specially trained court official) who will determine whether all the legal requirements of a divorce have been met. If the Legal Advisor is satisfied then the case will move forward and a court date be given for a pronouncement of a Conditional Order. This will be dealt with in court in Birmingham and there is no need for either party to attend.

A Conditional Order does not formally end the marriage. It is a provisional order. The marriage or civil partnership will only finally end (be dissolved) when an application is made for a Final Order.  The earliest date a Final Order can be applied for is six weeks and one day after pronouncement of a Conditional Order. Often parties will be advised to wait until financial matters are resolved before making an application for a Final Order. 

For more information on the divorce process and how to get a divorce, please contact one of our Divorce lawyers.

Separation advice

A judicial separation is a very similar procedure to divorce. The courts have powers to make certain orders in respect of finances and the children. Crucially, the courts cannot make orders that relate to pensions. However, the couple still remain legally married at the end of the process. This is a rarely used process but may be an option where couples wish to live as if they were divorced but cannot divorce for perhaps religious reasons, or if they have been married for less than a year and are unable to divorce.

For more information on the separation process or for further separation advice please contact one of our Family Law and Divorce solicitors.

Finances

This is an ever developing area of law. There is never one right answer. Instead there are a range of possible outcomes which can be tailored to suit the various needs of the two households looking to the future. One of the guiding principles is fairness – which may not always mean the same to both parties. If a case goes to a final hearing at court the Judge has a wide discretion over the solution that can be imposed whilst remaining fair. This means that the outcome may be difficult to predict.

The financial aspects of divorce can be extremely complex, particularly when there is a family business, inherited assets, farms or trusts. We provide specialist advice on all these complex issues.

Please contact us if you would like further divorce advice or separation advice. Alternatively please contact us to request a meeting with our Divorce solicitors in one of our five offices – Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich, London or Norwich.

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Birketts provides excellent service and advice. The team is professional and helpful.

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