Divorce Solicitors London

Divorce 

Divorce procedure and how to get started

Divorce can be due to many reasons and is often very emotionally challenging. Mansouri & Son have the expertise and experience to help relieve some of the pressures and complexities of the divorce procedure; leaving you with much needed peace of mind to start to reconstruct your new life without your partner. Often during divorce you will see a side to your spouse, which you never knew existed. We can help to allay some of your concerns and we will advise you, in plain English, what your rights are and what you can expect to achieve from the divorce.

As part of our ongoing commitment to client satisfaction, our fees structure will be unambiguous and very reasonable. In most cases we will be able to conduct your whole divorce process on a simple Fixed Fee basis, allowing you to budget for the rest of life’s up’s and downs.

Getting Started

To commence a divorce in England & Wales you must first lodge a Petition. The petition will embody the grounds and facts upon which you seek your divorce. It will also embody any financial claim which you may seek against your spouse. If you have children, you will also need to lodge a ‘statement of arrangements for the children’.

To lodge a divorce petition, you will need to have been married for at least 1 year and either you or your spouse must be ordinarily domiciled in England & Wales. It doesn’t usually matter where you were married, as long as you meet this criteria. You will however need the original of your marriage certificate. If you don’t have a marriage certificate, we can advise you of your options. Divorce in England & Wales can only be on the grounds that the ‘marriage has irretrievably broken down‘. This ground for divorce must be supported by at least one of the five available ‘facts‘.

A divorce petition must be based on at least one of the 5 permitted ‘facts’ for divorce. These are:

Unreasonable behaviour

Adultery

►You have been separated for 2 or more years  and both of you agree to a divorce

►You have been deserted for 2 years. Although this ground does not need to be admitted by your spouse, it is a particularly complex ground on which to seek a divorce.

►you and your spouse have been separated for at least 5 years immediately preceding the lodging of the petition for divorce at court; often called the ‘five year separation rule‘.

read more about the ‘grounds’ for divorce.

 The Divorce Process

Once the petition has been drafted it must be sent to the relevant court office, with the accompanying fee, in order that it can be filed. The initial fee charged by the court for filing the divorce petition is currently £340 (as of 1 September 2010).

When the divorce petition has been filed, one copy will be sent to your spouse by the court along with a form called the ‘acknowledgement of service form’. This is your spouses opportunity to state their case and identify whether or not they intend to defend the divorce petition, or alternatively whether they accept the petition. Often you will know in advance what their reaction is going to be. A copy of the ‘acknowledgement of service form’ will be sent to you once your spouse has completed it and returned it to the court.

The next stage requires you to send a document called a ‘request for directions for trial (Special Procedure)‘ to the court. This must be supported by an Affidavit. Where an Affidavit is required, you may need to swear this before a solicitor. There may be a fee for this which is usually about £5-£10.

By this stage a District Judge will check the documents to ensure that all the necessary steps have been taken and that all necessary arrangements have been made for any children you may have. If the District Judge is satisfied with the documents, he or she will issue a ‘Decree Nisi‘ of divorce. A Decree Nisi is valid for 6 weeks and effectively means that unless any objections to the grant of the divorce are received within the 6 week period, the court intends to issue a ‘Decree Absolute‘ of divorce, dissolving the marriage, 6 weeks after the issue of the Decree Nisi.

Assuming that no complications arise, 6 weeks after the issue of the Decree Nisi, the Petitioner can apply for a ‘Decree Absolute‘ of divorce; meaning that the divorce is complete and the marriage is legally at an end. There is usually a fee of £45 payable to the court, to obtain the Decree Absolute of divorce.

In an uncontested and straightforward divorce, the process usually takes about 4-6 months from start to finish. However; where you will be seeking a financial settlement or there are disagreements about the division of the matrimonial home or assets, then it is imperative that these are raised before you obtain the Decree Absolute of divorce. Raising these issues after the issue of the decree absolute can present considerable problems.

Complications

Many things can complicate a divorce. Examples of these are when you do not know your spouses current whereabouts, or there may be serious disagreement about the children, or worse still, you may be the victim of domestic violence. We can advise and assist you with these and many other complications at all stages of the divorce procedure. For specific advice relating to your particular circumstances, just call 020 8401 7352.

What is Domestic Violence

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence in English law can be broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviour by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family or cohabitation. Domestic violence has many forms including physical aggression such as hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, or threats of physical aggression. Also included is sexual abuse, emotional abuse, controlling or dominating behaviour, intimidation, stalking, neglect, and economic deprivation as well as the effects of alcoholism and mental illness, which are often the triggers for domestic violence. Domestic violence usually forms a pattern of controlling or domineering behaviour and is present in all societies. Not all cases of domestic violence involve overt acts of physical violence. Sometime it can be hidden in a bullying and controlling environment. 

Is domestic violence prevalent only in certain cultures or classes?

No. Domestic violence is common in all cultures and classes of people. Although it is most commonly experienced by women, it is certainly not restricted to women only. Any person can experience domestic violence regardless of race, ethnic or religious background, class, wealth, disability or lifestyle. It can involve several family members and can also be directed toward children as well as adults. 


What is the official definition of domestic violence?

The law defines domestic violence as “Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.” 


 Why does it happen? 

For all sorts of reasons. It is usually always because of the abuser rather than the abused person, although it may not feel that way to the victim. Victims of domestic violence are often made to feel ‘at fault’ or responsible for the violence in some way. However; in an intimate relationship like marriage, the effects of domestic violence can be destructive and as well as affecting the immediate victim, these can also have a serious impact on other family members such as children. There is no reason why anybody should have to suffer domestic violence and the law is here to help in a very fast and effective way. Often abusers are very well behaved in public and many of their friends and relatives will be completely unaware of their abusive behaviour. Domestic Violence abusers will also very often try to shift the blame for their violence onto the victim, stripping the victim of self-confidence and self-esteem and always taking the upper hand in criticism. 

 


 What can I do about Domestic Violence? 

 

Plenty! It may come as a surprise to many victims of domestic violence but this is one area of the law where the courts take a no-nonsense approach to allegations of domestic violence and protection is available fast and it is very effective. All you need to do is decide that ‘enough is enough’! Once you have decided to seek the protection of the law, an urgent application can often be brought on your behalf by your lawyers to the courts, without the abuser being aware of the proceedings and, the courts will normally immediately issue a Non-Molestation Injunction providing immediate protection. Any further attempts at Domestic Violence after the issue of this injunction will be a criminal offence and the abuser will fast find themselves arrested, in a police cell and in deep trouble. Abusers who breach a nonmolestation Order can easily find themselves in prison. 

Although there is no single criminal offence called ‘domestic violence’, the acts that comprise domestic violence are very often criminal offences in themselves. For example, harassment, assault, criminal damage, physical violence, rape, false imprisonment, sexual abuse and threats or harassment. 

 


 

Domestic Violence – Help 

We are experts at dealing with sensitive and often disturbing cases of domestic violence. To help assess your entitlement to the protection of the court we offer a free initial telephone consultation with a specialist Domestic Violence Solicitor on 020 8401 7352. During that telephone consultation we will obtain some information from you about your particular circumstances and  we will be able to tell you whether the protection of the courts is available in your specific situation. We will also explain to you the procedure, processes and probable costs of the work you need us to conduct for you as well as the likely timescales involved. 

 


 

 

 

 


   

Grounds for Divorce and Facts

Grounds for Divorce and Facts

The main legislation covering divorce law in England & Wales is the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, as amended. In order that we can submit a Divorce Petition for you, you must first establish that you have ‘grounds‘ for a divorce. English law only recognises one ‘ground‘ for divorce. This requires you to show to the court that your marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. In simple terms this means that there is no prospect of a reconciliation between you.

To support your ‘grounds‘ for divorce, you must establish at least one of five ‘facts‘. The law provides 5 ‘facts‘ which you can rely on. These are:

  1. The unreasonable behaviour of your spouse
  2. Adultery by your spouse
  3. The fact that you have been separated for at least 2 years and, your spouse agrees to the marriage being dissolved
  4. Desertion by your spouse
  5. 5 years separation

We will advise you which of the above ‘facts’ best suits your circumstances. Where there are financial proceedings, called ‘Ancillary Relief‘, or proceedings about children, these are separate matters in respect of which we can also assist you.

Unreasonable Behaviour

If you are relying on unreasonable behaviour as a ‘fact‘ for your divorce, you will have to satisfy the courts that you can no longer tolerate living with your spouse and that it would be unreasonable for you to be expected to continue living with your spouse. This means that you will have to provide some reasons for relying on this ‘fact‘ as a ground to show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Unreasonable behaviour is perhaps the most commonly used ‘fact‘ in seeking divorce. Establishing ‘facts’ is not always a straightforward matter. You will need to put examples of the unreasonable behaviour in your Petition for divorce. We can advise you whether your particular circumstances are likely to satisfy the court of your spouses unreasonable behaviour through Option A or Option B of our Fixed Fee Assessment. Option A comprises up to 30 minutes FREE telephone or email advice.

Adultery

Sadly adultery is all too often a cause of divorce. If adultery is relevant to your circumstances then the court will expect your spouse to sign a document admitting this. Where you know that your spouse is unlikely to admit their adultery, then the courts will expect you to prove it. This can be a very complicated and an expensive procedure. However; there is no need to despair. Despite the fact that your spouse may have been adulterous, you may still be able to proceed on the ‘fact‘ of unreasonable behaviour outlined above. We can advise you how best to proceed through Option A or Option B of our Fixed Fee Assessment.

Two Years Separation by Agreement

If your divorce is based on the ‘fact‘ that you have been separated for 2 years from your spouse, then the courts will expect your spouse to sign a document confirming this. If you know that your spouse is willing to sign such a document, then the divorce process can be quite quick and trouble free.

If your circumstances meet this criteria then Option D of our Fixed Fee Assessment would cover all the costs associated with your divorce.

Five Years Separation

Where your divorce petition is based on the ‘fact’ that you have been separated for at least 5 years before the date on which you ‘issue‘ your petition, then the courts will grant you a divorce, with or without your spouses consent. For an assessment of whether this is the most suited procedure for your circumstances, you may wish to proceed via Option A or Option B of our Fixed Fee Assessment.

In most cases divorce procedure is reasonably straightforward. Click here for a summary on divorce procedure.

 

Should you have any queries about your own personal circumstances, we offer a free 30 minute telephone consultation on 020 8401 7352. Contact us for guidance and advice relating to your particular circumstances. The information provided in this article is general information only and it is not intended that you should rely on this information as advice relating to your specific circumstances. Divorce is a potentially complex legal process and you should always ensure that you receive independent legal advice specific to your particular circumstances from a qualified adviser.

Tier 1 (General) Applications Close on 23 December 2010

Tier 1 (General) to close overseas from 23 December 2010 and new interim limit for Tier 2 set

 

21 December 2010

The UK Border Agency has announced that it will stop accepting Tier 1 (General) applications made overseas from 00:01 (UK time) on 23 December 2010. They claim that this is to ensure that they do not exceed the limit set by the UK government for Tier 1 (General) applications between 19 July 2010 and April 2011.  

By closing Tier 1 (General) to further overseas applications, the UK Border Agency claims that they will ensure that they only accept applications which have a reasonable prospect of being granted before the limit is reached. Applications submitted up until the end of 22 December 2010 will be processed as normal, although under the monthly monitoring system the UKBA have already announced that they will not start issuing Tier 1 (General) visas again until January 2011.

The UK Border Agency will only accept applications accompanied by a fee. If you submit your application without having paid the fee before the deadline, then your application will be ignored and not processed. This announcement is being made at the very last minute leaving proposed applicants with almost no time at all to comply. Therefore applicants in the process of submitting a Tier 1 (General) application overseas or planning to do so will need to have paid their fee by the end of 22 December (UK time).  This means that irrespective of where in the world you are applying, you now need to comply with a deadline based on UK time. This refers to midnight UK time.

Tier 1 (General) overseas will not reopen for applications. Tier 1 (General) in the UK will remain open until 5 April 2011. There will be transitional arrangements for some applicants made in the UK beyond 6 April 2011, and the UKBA will announce details of these in due course.

Also today, the UK Government has set a limit up until 5 April 2011 on the number of Certificates of Sponsorship available to licensed Tier 2 sponsors. The level of the limit will be 10,832 and the changes will take place immediately.