Although the average UK divorce now takes eight months, each case is different, and the timescale can be affected by things such as respondent delays and incorrect filing information. In any case, having an experienced and sympathetic divorce Solicitors guide you through the process will invariably speed things up and ensure a smooth transition.
Empowering Your Divorce Journey: Expert Guidance for a Smooth Transition
No one enters into a marriage expecting it to end in divorce. However, approximately 42% of UK marriages do break down, and for those seeking a divorce, obtaining Expert Legal Support is vital. Experiencing a divorce is often an emotionally charged time, but the right divorce Solicitors can expertly guide you through the legal and emotional complexities and help make the process as simple and stress-free as possible, whatever stage you’re at.
Preparing for Divorce
Self-Reflection and Decision-Making
Before seeking a divorce, many couples assess the condition of their marriage, and some may seek alternative routes. Mediation is one of these paths, suitable for helping when a relationship breaks down. Other possible routes are legal separation, often used when divorce is condemned for religious or cultural reasons, allowing both parties to live separately but as married, and an annulment of marriage.
There are many financial considerations involved, including gathering relevant financial documents – such as tax returns, property deeds and bank statements – understanding spousal maintenance and child support and budgeting for legal fees. You may be entitled to legal help or legal aid, and this will be assessed at your initial consultation. At QualitySolicitors, first advice is always free, so you can rest assured you pay nothing unless you decide to proceed.
Seeking emotional support during this difficult time is important. Whether you call on friends, family or professionals, the right support can empower you and your journey, making the transition as smooth as possible. Divorce counselling, also known as divorce coaching, differs from mediation as it doesn't provide legal assistance. Instead, it provides an opportunity to navigate the emotions of loss and grief associated with separation. Online therapies are also available if you’d prefer to speak to someone from the comfort of your own home.
Legal Aspects of Divorce
Choosing the Right Solicitor
Divorcing couples sometimes ask themselves if enlisting a solicitor is really necessary, as they have managed to agree on everything, mostly in case of joint divorce applications. At QualitySolicitors, we suggest that legal assistance is required at the earliest stage: our expert solicitors can advise on the implications of separation and, if divorce is inevitable, ensure that you do not agree on something now only to discover down the line that it is not legally valid.
Finding the right solicitor for you is imperative. Reviews and recommendations are helpful, guides and personal recommendations are invaluable. Your legal representative should offer you the level of support, professionalism and compassion you require and ensure that you feel confident that any communication with them is timely and confidential. Once you have chosen your solicitor, you will receive an initial consultation, so it is advisable to make a list of any questions you have regarding the length of the divorce process or child and financial concerns, for example.
Filing for Divorce
The first step is completing a divorce petition to show you meet one of the legal grounds for divorce. Per the UK Government, the grounds are as follows:
- You have been married for over a year
- Your relationship has permanently broken down
- Your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage)
April 2022 saw the introduction of the ‘no fault’ divorce, with finalisation now being possible within a minimum of six months and no blame needing to be attributed to either party. One or both parties can apply for the divorce, and both can now share legal representation, allowing for a quicker and smoother process.
Marital property represents financial assets that you and/or your spouse have acquired during the marriage; non-marital assets include financial assets acquired prior to the legal union and any inherited property. Valuation of property is necessary for divorcees to calculate the settlement. If parties cannot agree upon a value, a market valuation is required, whereby an independent agent submits a valuation to the court. Typically, both parties have an equal claim on any assets acquired during the marriage; however, certain factors may necessitate an unequal share of property being awarded.
Child Custody and Support
QualitySolicitors takes pride in providing clients with a sympathetic ear and sound advice, invaluable attributes to those going through a divorce, not least when children are involved. Whatever stage you’re at, our expert child solicitors can guide you in child custody decision-making and visitation rights. Making fair and suitable arrangements for children is a priority for parents and legal teams, and no court will finalise a divorce without determining these provisions. Of course, many people don’t feel comfortable communicating with their ex-partner, which is why enlisting a legal representative can be invaluable, helping you make educated decisions about your and your family’s future.
Establishing the terms of a child support agreement, such as regular versus irregular payment amounts and what the payments will cover, is an important part of the divorce process. When both parties cannot agree, the Child Maintenance Service can make the calculations, considering the number of children involved, the paying parent’s income, the time the children spend with the paying parent and any child maintenance paid to other children.
Navigating the Divorce Process
Mediation and Collaborative Divorce
Mediation is an alternative way of resolving separation disputes, wherein both parties and a mediator discuss the issues in question. The benefits of mediation are that it is informal and flexible and can improve communication, often leading to mutually satisfactory results. If you believe mediation may be right for you, call us on 0808 304 7196 and discover how QualitySolicitors can help. Collaborative divorce is also an option: both parties have their own collaboratively trained solicitor, and everyone meets face to face to achieve a resolution. The non-adversarial approach works if both parties aim for fairness and full disclosure and is typically a more cost-efficient and quicker way of divorcing, although cases can differ greatly in terms of cost and timescales.
Understanding the Court Timeline
The length of divorce proceedings differs depending on certain aspects, such as delays from the respondent or application errors. The average timescale from submitting a divorce application to receiving the final order is eight months. The ‘no fault’ divorce necessitates paying a court fee of £593, knowing your ex-partner’s email and residential addresses and having your marriage certificate (or a certified copy of the original).
- After submitting the D8 Divorce Petition, your partner will be contacted by the court and has 14 days to respond to the Acknowledgement of Service. If there is no response, the divorce can still proceed but becomes more complex.
- A mandatory 20-week reflection period is then imposed, whereby child and financial arrangements can be agreed upon. Following this, you can apply to the court to proceed.
- If approved, a Certificate of Entitlement will be granted, confirming the date of your conditional order. Once the court has granted the divorce, a 6-week ‘cooling off’ period is entered, wherein couples submit their financial agreement to the court.
- Finally, you apply to the court to legally divorce and receive your Final Order. This is typically granted within 24 hours.
Representing Your Interests in Court
Although largely a paper process, divorce proceedings are invariably expedited by having legal representation. QualitySolicitors’ experienced divorce solicitors can help from the offset, and your initial assessment is always free. Our professionals can mitigate any potential delays or errors.
Handling Divorce Paperwork
If you employ legal representation, your solicitor will handle most of the paperwork and address any queries or concerns you have. There are a few instances where you can apply for a divorce without your marriage certificate, but you will need to complete a D11 form and pay a fee. You can also request a copy of your certificate from a registered office for a fee. If your ex-partner has sent you a divorce petition, you need to respond to the Acknowledgement of Service and return it to the court, and if you applied for a divorce online, you’ll be instructed on how to apply for a conditional order online.
The government is keen for couples to stay together, so there is no maximum divorce timescale, and the divorce petition does not ‘expire’. If you are a sole applicant, your ex-partner will typically receive the paperwork from the court within 28 days and then have 14 days in which to respond. If you have been filed against, a solicitor can help you respond within this 14-day period. Following the 20-week latent period, the conditional order is considered, and six weeks after this, you can apply for a final order. If this application is made 12 months after the conditional order was granted, the applicant must explain why to the court. The respondent can also apply for a further three months if the applicant doesn’t do so.
Coping With Emotional Challenges
Managing stress and anxiety is important, not least when going through a divorce. Remember that whatever decisions were made, they were not made lightly, so try not to be too hard on yourself. You may be feeling some guilt, particularly if children are involved, but remember to practise self-care and reflect on how far you’ve come. Children often experience a range of emotions after divorce, so it’s important to talk to them about their feelings and reaffirm they are loved and had no part in the union ending. Post-divorce counselling can also help build a support system that works for you.
Feelings of loneliness are very common following divorce as you adjust to living alone and an uncertain future. Building self-reliance by shifting the focus from the divorce and your ex-partner to yourself is often an effective coping mechanism.
As discussed, co-parenting agreements are a necessary consideration before a divorce is finalised. It may be that children spend 50% of their time with one parent following a divorce and 50% with the other, or there may be more of an unequal time divide. It may be wise to have a legal expert draft a consent order, or you may wish to apply to the court for a child arrangements order if you have tried mediation and still cannot agree.
Above all else, view the situation through your child’s eyes. They have likely only experienced life with both parents together, so will need time to adjust. Although feelings of resentment are common after a divorce, try and remain civil and in contact, showing your child how to maintain respectful relationships. Where something cannot be agreed upon, seek legal advice.
Life After Divorce
Re-building Your Life
There is no right or wrong way to feel after a divorce is finalised. However, uncertainty about your future is common. There are a number of things you can do to regain control, such as setting new goals and reinvention: get a new haircut or find new interests and hobbies. Rediscovering yourself involves finding the older ‘versions’ of you; what is it you used to enjoy and what were your hopes for the future? Reconnecting with old friends is an excellent reminder of who you were and who you can be again.
Building Healthy Relationships
Whatever path you decide on, embrace the freedom of being divorced, make and strengthen friendships, and take your time before jumping into a new relationship. When you're ready to start dating again, be careful and prioritize your own well-being while building healthy connections.
Whatever stage you’re at, call QualitySolicitors today on 0808 304 7196 and speak to our team.
Since the introduction of the ‘no fault’ divorce in 2022, attributing blame is no longer necessary for the divorce process. Couples can solely or jointly apply for a divorce petition if You have been married for over a year, Your relationship has irrevocably broken down, Your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage)
Yes, you can change your solicitor at any time during proceedings. However, if you have received your final order, then this may be difficult. Remember that at QualitySolicitors, our expert divorce solicitors provide a free initial assessment with a no-obligation guarantee.
The court’s primary concern is the welfare of the child. They will consider who was the main care provider during the marriage, the practical proposals of both parents and the child’s wishes.
Both parents remain financially responsible for any children. If your child does not live with you, you will be responsible for making regular child maintenance payments to the primary carer.
If the debt is shared, both parties are equally responsible for repaying the full amount. Creditors can pursue either party for money owed, so it is important to continue making payments even if your ex-partner stops.
Your personal circumstances will dictate whether a lump-sum payment or regular spousal maintenance payment is the right option for you. With a clean-break agreement, a financial settlement is agreed upon, and both parties are free to continue their lives without pending financial claims. A complete clean break may not be possible if children, and thus child maintenance payments, are involved. Moreover, this type of agreement has its risks: your spouse may become unemployed or begin earning significantly more, for example.