The breakdown of marriage is listed as one of the most stressful things that we can experience in life. Our divorce solicitors have many years of experience between them to ensure that you receive appropriate advice and practical support during this difficult time, no matter what your situation. This will include advice on how to get divorced, the timescale and cost and the implications for financial arrangements and also any children’s care.
What is a divorce?
Divorce is the legal process that brings a marriage to an end and this process is dealt with in the County Court. For couples living in England and Wales any County Court can be used to start divorce proceedings. Most couples choose to start proceedings in the County Court most local to them. The local County Courts in our area are Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Colchester, Chelmsford, Norwich and Cambridge.
Grounds for divorce
To start divorce proceedings the law requires:-
• that a couple have been married for at least a year
• that the marriage has irretrievably broken down
• that one of five grounds (legal reasons below) to bring the marriage to an end exists
Not everyone wants to enter into divorce proceedings, has the grounds, or has been married long enough. You may wish to consider separation as an alternative means to resolve matters.
The five grounds for divorce are:-
• The other person has committed adultery, and the last occasion that took place was within the last six months
• The other person has behaved in such a way that the person applying for the divorce cannot reasonably be expected to live with them
• The other person has deserted the person applying for a period of two years
• The couple have lived apart for a period of two years and both agree to a divorce
• The couple have lived apart for five years if one person does not consent to the divorce
Financial Settlement in divorce
In divorce you will deal with the marital assets. Most divorces involve:
• a marital home which is either jointly owned or owned in the name of one of the couple
• pensions that have accrued during the marriage
• maintenance issues between the couple and for any children
• any savings or debts.
Family run businesses can be an issue as can the tax implications of splitting assets. Our Solicitors have experience and knowledge to advise on all kinds of cases, from the modest to the high net worth. All of our Solicitors are Members of the Resolution Organisation and we endeavour to resolve matters without unnecessary increase of conflict and in a way that ensures that a fair and reasonable outcome is achieved.
Financial settlementis most commonly dealt with by agreement and we regularly assist in negotiating terms of settlement that takes into account various factors, including
• the length of the marriage
• value of the assets accumulated
• the housing needs of the parties and any children
• the income-earning capacity of the parties
• any contributions made.
Sometimes it is not possible to negotiate a settlement because, for example, the other person will not disclose the value of assets that they hold, or that they want an unrealistic share of the assets. In such cases, applications can be made to the Court and one of our Solicitors will be able to advise you on the Court process, the timescale and the approximate cost. Our divorce solicitors have good local connections with reputable experts who can advise on property valuations, tax advice and valuations of private businesses.
The feedback that we have from our clients is that they appreciate the clear advice that we are able to give to them and also our understanding approach to the situation that they find themselves in.
Arrangements for children in divorce
Arrangements for children also have to be considered within any divorce proceedings. If there are children of the relationship the County Court will require that a form is completed to set out those arrangements. Often these have been dealt with already by agreement and the completion of the form can be relatively straightforward. Where there is a dispute between parents further advice may be required. More details are provided under our Children section. If there is disagreement between parents about children arrangements these can be resolved through legal advice, mediation, collaborative law or court proceedings. Our divorce solicitors are successful at advising and assisting in resolving children arrangements.
Timescale and costs
The quickest timescale for obtaining a divorce is between 3-4 months and this is because there is a six week court imposed block within the process. In cases where parties are able to come to an understanding relatively quickly and to assist the lawyers in moving the process forward without a delay we find that an average divorce may take between 4-6 months. We are able to provide you with a quote for a fixed cost of the divorce and to provide you with a costs estimate for dealing with any financial settlement or children issues.
We offer an initial fixed fee appointment which many of our clients find useful to gather further information about the divorce process, the particular issues of your case and an initial view on likely outcomes.