Divorce fees

We offer several packages to help you meet the costs of your divorce

a. The free 15 minute consultation. This can be on the phone or face to face. It’s a no obligation opportunity to discuss your case and questions with a professional matrimonial solicitor.

b. The full consultation. This is charged at £200 plus VAT and if afterwards you choose to instruct us we will deduct this fee from the costs of conducting your work (options c and d below)

c. The fixed fee divorce. These start at £750 plus VAT for the most straightforward of uncontested divorces. Added to this will be court fees

d. The hourly rate

 

To make an appointment Call us today on 020 8401 7352 to book an appointment or email us your query.

Divorce Procedure in England & Wales

The divorce procedure is usually a purely administrative one, as long as the spouse being divorced does not defend it.

In most cases, the procedure is completed in four to six months.

A divorce is started by filing a divorce petition at court that sets out the details of your marriage and your children and the reason that you want a divorce.

The divorce petition is in a standard form, with space for you to incorporate your own personal circumstances.

There are also other documents that need to be filed at the same time as well as the court fee which is currently £510.

The divorce procedure can be broken down into three main stages. The three stages of the divorce procedure are:

Stage 1. The divorce petition stage and application for directions
Stage 2. the pronouncement of the decree nisi
Stage 3. the decree absolute stage

Stage 1 – The divorce petition & Application for Directions for Trial (Special Procedure)

Your petition for divorce, setting out the grounds for divorce and the ‘fact’ relied upon must be filed at the court along with the court filing fee of £510.

Along with the divorce petition you must also file at the court the original of your marriage certificate and a Certificate as to Reconciliation.

At this stage you become the ‘petitioner’ and your spouse becomes the ‘respondent’. In adultery cases you may also have a ‘co-respondent’; that is a second respondent who will usually be the person with whom you allege that your spouse has been adulterous.

The divorce petition must then be served on your spouse, the respondent in the divorce suit.

This is usually done by post by the court. However in instances where your spouse is likely to want to avoid or delay the divorce proceedings they may need to have these documents served on them by a court bailiff or process server. We work closely with specialised teams of bailiffs and process servers who can serve these documents and even find and locate evasive spouses and their assets.

The divorce petition will be served on your spouse with an Acknowledgement of Service form from the court.

Your spouse has seven days from the date of being served with the divorce petition and acknowledgement of service form, to respond to the court indicating whether or not they consent to the divorce proceeding undefended.

Where your spouse confirms that they do not intend to defend the divorce and will consent to the divorce going forward undefended, the matter can then be listed by the court in what is called the ‘Special Procedure’ list.

Stage 2 – The Decree Nisi is Pronounced

In order for the divorce suit to proceed toward the pronouncement of the decree nisi of divorce, you, the petitioner, must file with the court a statement in support of your petition.

This is then filed at the court with an an Application for Directions For Trial (Special Procedure). This usually means that the court will set the matter down in the court diary for consideration by a District Judge.

You will not normally need to attend that hearing. At the hearing the District Judge will also consider the arrangements for the children. The District Judge will ‘pronounce the decree nisi of divorce‘.

The decree nisi of divorce is pronounced in open court and if anyone wishes to object to the decree nisi being pronounced then that is when they will have an opportunity to make their objection to the District Judge.

Stage 3 – The Decree Absolute of Divorce

Once a decree nisi has been pronounced then the petitioner must wait at least 6 weeks from the date of the pronouncement of the decree nisi before an application can be made to the court for the decree nisi to be made absolute. That is called the decree absolute of divorce.

Once a decree absolute of divorce is made then the marriage is officially at an end and the parties are formally divorced.

If for any reason the petitioner does not apply for the decree absolute of divorce six weeks after the pronouncement of the decree nisi then the respondent is not allowed to make this application themselves for quite a while longer.

The respondent cannot apply for a decree nisi to be made absolute until the expiry of three months after the expiry of the six week period. That means that a respondent cannot apply for a decree nisi to be made into a decree absolute of divorce until 18 weeks have elapsed after the date on which the decree nisi was pronounced.

After your divorce

Most people believe that once they are divorced then their former spouse can’t make an application for a financial settlement, called Ancillary Relief, against them. Sadly this is a big misconception.

Former spouses can usually still apply for a financial settlement in respect of a former marriage many years after their divorce.

That is one reason why divorcing couples should seek professional legal advice when contemplating divorce and not settle for the cheap DIY divorce kits and automated online divorce companies.

A professional specialist and expert firm of solicitors like Mansouri & Son Solicitors will ensure that at the time of your divorce a legally binding agreement is prepared for you and sealed by the court ensuring that your former spouse can never make a financial claim against you in future in respect of the marriage.

This is called a ‘consent order‘. What’s more we can usually do this for you at a fixed fee, we will deal with all the legalities and technicalities, all the drafting, the enquiries and the negotiations and leave you to start to recover your life knowing that you have a team of highly experienced specialist solicitors looking after your best interests at all times.

Call us today on 020 8401 7352 to book an appointment with an expert specialist divorce solicitor or email us your query.

For details of Islamic Divorce – Talaq – see here

Divorce Process Part 4: Obtaining the Decree Absolute of Divorce

divorce

This is the final part in a Four part review of the divorce process entitled ‘Obtaining the Decree Absolute of Divorce.

Overview

The Decree Absolute is the final decree of divorce which ends the marriage. It must be applied for to be granted and will not be automatically issued by the courts. Before it is granted the steps set out in the previous three articles must have been completed to the satisfaction of a District Judge.

The application for a Decree Absolute of Divorce must be made on a special form which can be obtained from the court office.

Once the Decree Absolute of Divorce is granted, copies will be sent to all parties in the proceedings.

The date the marriage comes to an end is the date which is on the Decree Absolute of Divorce. Before this date the parties were still legally married. Once the Decree Absolute is issued, both parties are free to re-marry.

The Petitioner can apply for a Decree Absolute six weeks after the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi of Divorce. However the Respondent cannot apply until 18 weeks after the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi of Divorce.

If the respondent is applying, they will also need to swear an affidavit setting out the reasons why it is the Respondent applying for the Decree Absolute rather than the normal procedure, where the Petitioner applies.

Where there is a delay and neither party to the marriage applies for the Decree Absolute within twelve months after the decree nisi, then whomever is applying for the Decree Absolute will have to give a written explanation to the court, often by filing another affidavit, explaining the reasons for the delay, and confirming that no further children have been born to the parties.

Procedure

The petitioner can apply for decree absolute anytime from 6 weeks from the date the decree nisi is pronounced. Where the Petitioner applies, the Decree Absolute is usually granted automatically at this stage.

No further court hearings are required and the process is usually done by post only or by attendance at the court office and the payment of the applicable court fee.

Where the petitioner does not apply for decree absolute, the respondent can apply. However; the Respondent cannot apply any earlier than 18 weeks from the date of the pronouncement of the decree Nisi of divorce.

Applications by the Respondent for a Decree Absolute are not automatically granted and will always be considered by a judge, first.

Where there is a delay of 12 months or longer from the pronouncement of the decree nisi of divorce to the application for a decree absolute, either party to the marriage can still apply for the decree absolute but they must satisfy the judge by way of a statement setting out the reasons for the delay, confirming that they have not been cohabiting with the other party to the marriage for any periods of six months or longer and confirming that no other children have been born, whether or not parented by both parties to the marriage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Decree Absolute mean I am divorced?

Yes, this is the final decree of the court in the marriage. Once granted, the parties are free to re-marry.

Do I need to keep the Decree Absolute Certificate?

Yes, this is an important legal document and you will need to present it if you plan to marry again.

It is also often required for other purposes. If you lose it, you can obtain a replacement from the court for a fee.

My Decree Absolute was granted and we agreed finances informally. My ex is backtracking on that agreement, can I apply for Ancillary Relief?

Probably – an application for Ancillary Relief can, in certain circumstances, still be brought after the marriage has been dissolved. It depends on many factors, including whether you have remarried or are cohabiting with another person. You will need to seek professional legal advice about this from a Solicitor.

My ex and I have reconciled and want to stay together, can we cancel the Decree Absolute?

No,  the divorce is final. If you do wish to remain in a marriage with your ex, then you can remarry them again though.

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.

Should you have any queries about your own personal circumstances Contact us for guidance and advice relating to your particular circumstances on 020 8401 7352.

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 Process Part 3: Obtaining the Decree Nisi of Divorce

divorce

This is the Third part in a Four part review of the divorce process entitled ‘Obtaining the Decree Nisi of Divorce.

Once the Divorce Petition has been acknowledged by the Respondent, the court will then start the process toward pronouncing the decree nisi of divorce. The importance of the decree nisi is twofold.

First it is the initial decree of your divorce. No divorce can be finalised before a decree nisi is pronounced first.

Secondly, no financial settlement or Orders relating to the finances of the divorce can be made by the court until the decree Nisi has first been pronounced. A decree Nisi also indicates that you are well on the way to being divorced.

Overview & Procedure

When the Respondent returns the Acknowledgement of Service form to the court, the court will forward a copy of this to the Petitioner.

The Petitioner must then draft and swear a statement in support of the petition for divorce and they must also exhibit a copy of the acknowledgement of service form to their affidavit confirming that the signature of the Respondent appearing on the acknowledgement of service form is accurate and also confirming that the facts set out in the divorce petition have not changed materially.

The Petitioners statement will be filed at the court where it will be reviewed by a District Judge. The judge will then decide whether the statement is acceptable and if so, will set the matter down in the Special Procedure List, for the pronouncement of the decree Nisi of divorce.

The date of that pronouncement will be advised to both the respondent and the petitioner. It is called the Special Procedure List because as a general rule there is no need for either of the parties to attend the court for that hearing.

In the absence of any representations by either party at the Special Procedure List hearing, the court will simply pronounce the decree Nisi of divorce and copies will be sent to the parties.

However; where the Respondent objects to paying the costs of the divorce or wishes to make some other representations, then attendance at the Special Procedure List hearing is essential by them.

The Decree Nisi is the first Order made by the courts in relation to the divorce petition. It is a significant stage in the divorce and once it is pronounced then six weeks after the date of it’s pronouncement, the Petitioner can apply to the court for the Decree Absolute of Divorce.

The Decree Absolute of Divorvce is the final Order of divorce and once obtained the marriage has been dissolved and the marriage is at an end.

Also , the Decree Nisi is important because it is only after the pronouncement of the decree nisi that the Court can make any final orders concerning the financial aspects of the divorce.

This applies even if the parties to the marriage have agreed the financial aspects of the divorce by way of a Consent Order. It is therefore important that the decree Nisi is obtained first.

Once the decree Nisi is obtained, the speed at which the divorce progresses to a Decree Absolute is very much in the hands of the Petitioner. This is because the Petitioner can apply, six weeks after the pronouncement of the decree Nisi, for a final decree of divorce, being the Decree Absolute.

However; the Respondent cannot apply for this until 18 weeks after the date the decree Nisi is pronounced.

This is one of the reasons why it is sometimes beneficial to be the Petitioner in divorce proceedings, because the Petitioner often has the lead when it comes to deciding the speed at which matters will proceed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a Decree Nisi mean – does it mean I am divorced?

Not quite yet. The Decree Nisi signifies that the court has accepted the grounds for divorce as well as the Respondents acknowledgement and the divorce can progress toward a final Order.

You are divorced only when you receive the Decree Absolute of divorce. Before this, you cannot legally re-marry and there can be other consequences too, including your rights and entitlements in the event that your spouse or you die before the decree absolute of divorce.

The court has pronounced my Decree Nisi – what do I do next?

Before progressing the matter on to a final decree of divorce, this is an important stage to consider whether there are any issues in relation to the finances of the divorce that need to be resolved.

If the financial aspects of the divorce are still unresolved then any application to the court in this regard needs to be filed now.

Delay beyond this stage in addressing the financial aspects of the divorce can mean that one or both of the parties may well lose out on their entitlements.

The financial aspects of the divorce are called Ancillary Relief proceedings.

Should you have any queries about your own personal circumstances Contact us for guidance and advice relating to your particular circumstances on 020 8401 7352.

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 and experienced solicitor.

Divorce Process Part 2: The Acknowledgement of Service Form

divorce

This is the second part in a four part review of the Divorce Process entitled The Acknowledgement of Service.

Once a divorce petition has been filed at the court, it will normally be posted to the other spouse to the marriage. The spouse being divorced is referred to as the ‘Respondent’.

Along with the divorce petition, the court will also send the Respondent some other documents too called an Acknowledgement of Service Pack. One of those forms needs to be filled in by the Respondent, signed by them or their solicitor and returned to the court.

The Respondent must acknowledge to the court within 7 days of receiving the acknowledgement that they have received the divorce petition and they must also notify the court whether they consent to the divorce proceeding undefended or whether they do not.

At this stage in the proceedings the Respondent needs to consider their position very carefully because this may be the only opportunity the Respondent has to alter the direction of the divorce.

Considerations for the Respondent after receiving the Divorce Petition and Acknowledgement of Service Pack:

The Respondent should at this stage consider some of the following issues before returning the Acknowledgement of Service Form to the court:

1. Are you willing to agree to the divorce progressing on an undefended basis? In other words, do you contest the divorce as set out by the Petitioner or are you willing to agree to allow the Petition to proceed without you defending the suit?

Although it is unusual for Respondents to defend a divorce in England, the Respondent can nevertheless cross-petition and issue their own petition for a divorce in response to the existing petition and that way the Respondent can become the person seeking the divorce.

This is a fairly complex area of the divorce process and if it applied to you, then you are well advised to contact us. We specialise in complex and intricate divorces.

2. Are you prepared to accept the reasons for the divorce as they have been set out in the Petition by the Petitioner?

There will often be considerable disagreement between the parties as regards the grounds of the divorce and this may well be an area on which the Respondent may wish to seek legal advice from an independent Solicitor.

It is important at this stage in the proceedings not to allow emotions to cloud your judgement. If you agree with the main principal of the divorce petition, namely that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, then you may well be advised to take a conciliatory approach to some or all of the allegations set out in the petition by the Petitioner.

After all the objective here is to end the marriage, not to lock the parties into protracted and expensive litigation.

A divorce petition will normally be defended only where you have a very strong objection to the grounds put forward by the Petitioner or, where the petition is untrue in some material way.

3. If the Petitioner has included a Prayer in the divorce that you pay the costs of the divorce, are you prepared to pay this?

It is vital that you relay your position in this regard to the court at this stage on the Acknowledgement of Service form. The Respondent may not get another opportunity to contest paying the costs of the divorce later.

Although generally parties to a straightforward divorce are not required to attend the court, the most common situation where they are required to attend is when the issue of costs is hotly contested and the judge may want to hear from the Respondent and in some cases also the Petitioner about this.

The Respondent should bear in mind that the costs of the divorce are just that! They are the costs of the divorce only and not the costs of any other aspect of the separation such as the costs of dealing with disputes about the children or the costs of the financial settlement of the divorce.

Where the Respondent is prepared to pay the costs of the divorce, they should also consider limiting their agreement to a specific sum of money.

If the Petitioner is seeking more than this, be wary.In many cases where the divorce is amicable and agreed between the parties it is fair that the parties also split the costs of the divorce 50/50.

4. Where the Respondent has also received a Statement of Arrangements form, filled out by the Petitioner, relating to the children of the marriage, the Respondent should read that form carefully and consider whether they agree with what has been set out.

Although the matters set out are not set in stone, it may be worthwhile for the Respondent to also send the court their own Statement of Arrangements form when returning the Acknowledgement of Service form to the court.

Once you have decided on each of the above three items, then you complete and return (to the court) the acknowledgement of service.

Process

The respondent has 14 days from the date of receipt of the divorce Petition and the Acknowledgement of Service Pack to file the acknowledgment of service form. Where a Respondent intends to defend the divorce they then also have a further 14 days in which to file an answer to the divorce petition.

Once the acknowledgement of service form has been filed at the court by the Respondent, a copy will be sent to the Petitioner by the court and the Petitioner is then required to swear an statement in support of the divorce petition. More about this in our next article on the divorce process.

Rarely, a difficult Respondent will choose not to file the acknowledgement of service form with the court. This causes delay. We specialise in divorce work so if this has happened to you contact us and we can handle your divorce for you.

In these circumstances the petitioner must either prove to the court that service of the divorce petition has been effective. This usually requires Personal service by a court bailiff or a process server.

 Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t agree with the ‘unreasonable behaviour’ grounds set out by the Petitioner, What can I do?

Unreasonable behaviour grounds will always set out a series of events that will in themselves be upsetting. In situations where you accept that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, then you may consider simply allowing the petition to proceed undefended so as to end the marriage sooner rather than later.

That may also be a cost effective option. However, if the unreasonable behaviour allegations are completely unacceptable to you, you could negotiate with your spouse to amend the petition to something that is more acceptable to you or, in extreme situations where you feel strongly about the matter, you may even cross-petition for a divorce based on your own unreasonable behaviour grounds.

Bear in mind though that this will complicate matters and will cost more in legal and court fees.

The Petition is based on two years separation and requires my consent, but we have been living together at the same address since we married. I don’t want to lie to the court, what can I do?

The ‘fact’ of two years separation with consent does not require that you have been living at different addresses from your spouse.

You can live at the same address but have had no ‘common life’ together for at least the past 2 years. This ground is still effective if you have been sharing the same address but most other aspects of your life have been separate.

For example if you sleep in separate rooms, do not share a common life, socialise separately, eat and shop separately and generally have little joint interaction together then this ground can still be used for what is often called a ‘no fault’ divorce.

It will be for the Petitioner to satisfy the court that although you live at the same address, there has been no common life together for at least two years.

A Petition for divorce based on this ground requires the Respondent to consent to the divorce. If the Respondent does not consent, then this petition will not progress any further through the courts and the Petitioner will need to amend the grounds of divorce to one of the other options available in law.

In the Statement of Arrangement for Children the Petitioner has stated matters that I do not agree with, what can I do?

A Respondent can always file their own statement of arrangements for children. The matters set out in the Statement of Arrangements for Children are not binding in any way.

They are merely set out so that the District Judge hearing the divorce petition can be satisfied that the basic needs of any children of the marriage are being met.

If there are disagreements on matters such as where the children should live or the amount of time that they will be spending with one of the parents, then the Respondent should file their own Statement of Arrangements for Children and, it is vital that the Respondent seeks immediate legal advice in relation to the rights of the children and perhaps bringing separate proceedings in court in relation to the children pursuant to section 8 of the Children Act 1989.

This is an area of law where expert advice is strongly recommended, if necessary.

The Petitioner has included a Prayer in the Petition seeking an Order relating to the finances of the marriage. What does this mean and what will happen next?

It is usual practice for this to be included in the divorce Petition. However; these matters will not be dealt with by the court independently. It is up to the parties to the marriage to apply to the court separately within the divorce proceedings, asking the court to address the issue of the finances of the divorce.

The procedure for dealing with the finances of the divorce is called Ancillary Relief proceedings.

It is commenced by filing at court a form called Form A. Once filed this starts off a new court process dealing with the finances and is effectively separate from the divorce matter in most respects. See our separate articles about Ancillary Relief for more details of this procedure.

Should you have any queries about your own personal circumstances contact us on 020 8401 7352.

Contact us

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.