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.

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.

Saving Money and Divorce

Saving Money and Divorce

Divorce doesn’t have to be expensive. Depending on the circumstances, it is possible to obtain your divorce from an expert, qualified and adequately insured solicitor, regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for a very reasonable fee.

Some people still believe the cost of divorce to be a reason not to get divorced. If a person is desperately unhappy, in an abusive or simply unhappy relationship, expert solicitors can assist them in changing their life for the better. We offer fixed fee divorces to all our clients starting from £600 plus VAT and court fees. This applies to all divorces which are reasonably straightforward. We will advise at the start of your matter whether your divorce is considered reasonably straightforward and we will also commit ourselves to the fixed fee we quote you. Agreeing a fixed fee for your divorce matter with your solicitor is perhaps the single most effective way of ensuring that you maintain full control of the costs of your proposed divorce. This will mean that there will be no hidden costs for sending letters, taking phone calls or making photocopies of documents and you will also have the peace of mind knowing that an expert Family Law Solicitor is acting for you in your divorce. Many firms will vary their fees depending on teh level of the solicitor acting for you. We on the other hand offer you a simple fixed fee divorce solution and always will allocate you an expert solicitor in the field of law with many years of experience in this field of law.

Three essential pointers to bear in mind when agreeing a fixed fee for your divorce:

Provide clear instructions to your solicitors. Ensure that your soicitor is clear as to what it is that you want to achieve. The more often you change your mind, the more likely this is to create additional work and that can mean additional costs.

Agree a fixed fee for the work which will be conducted for you and ensure that this agreement is in writing and details exactly what steps in the process are included in that fixed fee. We will always provide our clients with this information in writing in the form of a mini-contract and we set out in that agreement exactly what we undertake to do. This way, if there is any misunderstanding, the agreement is in writing and this helps to protect our clients rights.

Do not allow emotions to affect your judgement or decisions in a divorce. Divorces come about when the marriage is in grave difficulties. Divorce will always be emotionally charged, but the job of your lawyer is to ensure that the legal aspects of your divorce are dealt with properly and in your favour wherever possible and that you have the protection of the law. Although we always try to provide our clients with as much emotional support as possible, there is a limit to what we can offer. Also bear in mind that decisions based on emotions are not always the best ones. These decisions are the ones that can often end up costing you a lot more in money terms because they delay the proceedings or take matters down a more complicated route.

If you are contemplating a divorce, we offer a free 30 minute telephone advice line on 020 8401 7352. We will assess your circumstances and advise you of what we can do to help you. This advice is offered on a no obligation basis. If you do decide to proceed with instructing us, we will then send you full written details of our fees, any specific fee arrangements agreed with you, as well as written confirmation of what we shall be doing for you, what you can expect, the timeframes and also a list of documents and steps we need you to take.

Expat Divorces in England

Although most divorces are reasonably straightforward matters, we regularly deal with the complexities that can arise. One issue which can complicate a divorce in England & Wales is where one or both of the parties to the marriage live abroad. These are often called Expat Divorce cases.

A divorce in England & Wales would qualify as an Expat Divorce if:

  • you are originally English or Welsh, currently living in another part of the world and want to use the English courts to obtain your divorce 
  • you have lived outside the UK for a number of years, have recently returned and, want to seek a divorce here 
  • you hold some other nationality and, have made your home in England or Wales and currently live here 
  • your spouse lives outside the UK and either you do not know where they are or there is a disagreement as to where the divorce should be commenced

In addition to the above list there are other factors that can affect divorce and which could amount to an Expat Divorce. Some of these can be quite complicated and that is when you will benefit from expert advice and assistance from specialist Family Law Solcitors with experience of International divorce cases.

If you think you fall into any of the above criteria, you will need to take advantage of our free 30 minute telephone consultation on 020 8401 7352 for a personal assessment of your circumstances

Eligibility for divorce under English law

The relevant question is where is your ordinary place of Residence or ‘Domicile’? For details of teh importance of domicile to divorce proceedings in England, see out factsheet on Divorce and Domicile.

Domicile is a fairly complex legal word and is relavent to your place of birth as well as your current place of residence and, in some circumstances even your intentions in the future.

Our fixed fee expat divorce

Despite the potential complications of an Expat Divorce, we can still offer you a fixed fee solution for this work which takes into account all the work associated with a reasonably straightforward Expat Divorce. See Option D of our Fixed Fee Divorce Fees for details of this.

Deciding where to divorce

There can be many reasons why a person may want to divorce through the English courts. Some couples divorce here because most or all of their assets are located here and others because it may be more straightforward than in other countries or perhaps the laws in England may be more favourable. Before making a decision on where to commence your divorce, you should seek expert independent legal advice.

Contact us for a free 30 minute telephone consultation

Contact Mansouri & Son Solicitors on +44 (0) 20 8401 7352 now for free advice on international divorce or to book an appointment with an expert International Divorce Solicitor