Divorce FAQ

If you have landed on this page then you or someone you care for is probably going through a divorce, or about to start the process. It’s a very upsetting phase for most people and has been ranked by health professionals as one of the most distressing events in life. Chances are you have lots of questions. We have compiled below some of the questions we get asked most often by clients:

Q. Does it matter who starts the divorce petition?

A. Yes – the person who starts the process has a little more control on how quickly the divorce proceeds through the courts, but on the flip side they also will be the person who has the pay the court fee to get it started.

However; under the new divorce rules which came into effect in April 2022, both spouses can petition for a divorce together, if they choose. This reduces the chances of disputes & acrimony.

Q. How long do we have to be separated before we can start a divorce?

A. In most cases – not long at all! You need to have been married for at least a year, but you do not need to have been separated for long to petition for a divorce.

Q. Can I change the locks if we separate?

A. Generally – No! If you are concerned about your personal safety during marriage breakdown, contact us, we can help you change the locks and exclude your partner from the property, legally.

Q. Who pays the divorce court fees?

A. The Petitioner usually pays – that the person who starts the divorce. Under the new rules both parties can apply together if they choose, and split the costs equally too.

Q. Must I have a lawyer to get a divorce?

A. No – there is rarely a time in any legal matter where you must have a lawyer! The question you really need to ask yourself is ‘would I be better off using a lawyer’? If you are concerned about not getting your fair share of the matrimonial assets or if your assets are under attack from your partner and you want to make sure you protect your wealth that you spent so long creating, contact us. We are highly experienced at making sure our clients get the absolute best possible protection.

Q. Can we sort out the financial aspects of our separation without a divorce?

A. No! To have a valid and enforceable agreement you must either divorce or get a ‘legal separation’. Under the new rules you can still get a legal separation which is not a full divorce but does legally separate all your finances.

Q. My partner & I have sorted out the finances after divorce between us – can we draw up an agreement together and get it signed and witnessed?

A. No! If the agreement has not been approved by a Court; it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. No matter who witnesses it! To have a valid & enforceable agreement you must have what is called a ‘consent order’.

If you want an expert family law divorce lawyer to protect you during marriage breakdown – contact us or email us your questions.

Q. We got married abroad – do we need to get divorced in England?

A. This is a little bit more complicated. But the short answer is – yes – if England or Wales is where you generally live then you will usually be able to divorce here. If in doubt, contact us.

Also – if you follow the link above – we describe the law and how it works.

Q. We already got divorced abroad – but what do we do about the division of our finances in England ?

A. This is quite a serious situation. The actual procedure is detailed because you need to first apply for permission to do this after an overseas divorce. But if the bulk of your assets are in England & Wales then you will need to contact us.

Even if you have agreed how you want to divide your assets, you will still a lawyer to make that agreement legally enforceable and valid.

Remember – any financial agreement between married couples is invalid, unless it is formalised by way of a court order – called a consent order.

Q. Can I move out of the matrimonial home before the divorce is finalised?

A. Yes – you can move out anytime you like. But do bear in mind that once you do move out it can have an impact on any future division of the assets the court may Order; because of many reasons, and one being that by moving out you clearly are indicating that you don’t need to stay in that property!

So it’s best that you get some professional personalised advice on this before you take the leap into the unknown. Call us to discuss.

Remember – once you are out, there is a chance your spouse can keep you out, even if you regret your decision to leave.

Q. Can I stop contributing to the household costs as soon as I decide to divorce?

A. Generally the answer to this will be a No! But it all depends on your personal circumstances so if this is an issue you are better off getting some advice tailored to your specific needs. You can’t just stop paying things like the mortgage just because you have decided to divorce your partner.

If you stop paying household expenses without a valid reason you could end up at the unpleasant end of a nasty court Order. So tread this issue very carefully and contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.

Q. My partner doesn’t want a divorce but I do – what can we do?

A. That’s not a problem.  The courts will generally not refuse to divorce you, so long as at least one of you wants the divorce. However; the procedure is more complicated. We will get this done for you though.

Q. Do I need my spouses agreement to get a divorce?

A. In most cases – No!

The new process of divorce is called a ‘No Fault’ divorce.  However; savvy spouses can complicate the process, so it’s always best to have an expert handle the case for you, if you suspect this might be an issue.

Q. Can I get a divorce without my spouse knowing?

A. Generally NO! It’s a strict requirement that your spouse must be served with the divorce petition. This applies even if they live abroad. But in some cases, where you do not know where they live, we can still get you your divorce.

Q. I haven’t heard from my spouse for years – I don’t even know where they live – can I get a divorce?

A. You can get a divorce yes – but first off we need to try to trace your partner. Remember they have to be served with the divorce petition. We have ways of tracing people. If we still can’t find them despite our best efforts then there are ways to satisfy a Judge that we have done everything possible and ask the court to permit the divorce to go ahead despite not finding your spouse.

In a situation like this you want an expert family law divorce lawyer to protect you during marriage breakdown – contact us or email us your questions.

Q. I have not heard from my spouse for years – is it possible that we are divorced and I don’t know about it?

A. Anything is possible – but you will need to apply to the Court to search the divorce records and find out if that happened. There is a form to complete and fee to pay for this. The fee goes up depending on the number of years worth of records you need to search. We can help you with this if needed. The costs of this will not normally be high.

Q. What’s the difference between a cheap online divorce company and using a solicitor?

A. Well – you tell us ‘what’s the difference between riding a bicycle or taking a cab?’ We are the very best at what we do. We will make sure the whole process is done in your very best interests. If there are disputes about finances or children involved, you will want to know you have the absolute best possible team on your side.

We are SRA Regulated, Law Society Registered and we hold Professional Indemnity Insurance which means that if anything does do wrong – you are protected.

A lot of the work we get are from clients who went to those online divorce shops and ended up in a mess. You can save yourself time, money and a great deal of stress by securing the very best possible team from the start.

Q. I need a divorce quick – what is the fastest route?

A. There isn’t one. All divorces take a minimum period. That is generally around 8 months. To go any faster you need to have a very good reason. The fastest divorce we ever did took 72 hours. But that was a very special reason, for a very special client who had less than a week to live and, wanted to marry his new partner before his death. Yeah – we know what you are thinking – wow! That’s how special the reason needs to be to get it pushed along and, he also needed the support of the wife he was divorcing!

The sad circumstances ended with our client getting his final wish, marrying his new bride. He did sadly pass away, but his final wish was granted.

Q. Can we change our minds if we decide not to go through with the divorce?

A. Sure you can. The courts are not going to force you to divorce if you both decide to stay together. You would be surprised by how often this actually happens. If the divorce has not yet been finalised you would generally simply cease proceeding with it and perhaps drop a letter (or email) to the court to let them know what’s happening. You can’t technically ‘withdraw’ a divorce, but you certainly can abandon one. However if your decree nisi (conditional order) has been pronounced, you might need to call us for a chat. That could potentially impact inheritance after you die so you will need a solicitor to help tidy that up for you.

Q. How quickly after divorce can I remarry?

A. You can remarry as soon as your decree absolute (final order) of divorce is issued. The very same day if you want! It might sound odd, but we have made it happen for clients in the past.

Q. How do I prove my partners adultery?

A. Well – there are many ways of doing this. But thankfully under the new divorce rules you no longer need to. However; it might be relevant to how the finances are divided. If in doubt, contact us.

Q. I want to divorce my partner because of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ – but what’s unreasonable?

A. This is no longer a requirement to get a divorce. All you need now for a divorce is to swear a statement of truth on the petition, confirming that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. That’s it.

Q. Only I live in England or Wales – my spouse lives abroad – can I still get a divorce here?

A. Yes – as long as you live in England or Wales you can petition for your divorce here. Indeed even if you don’t live in England or Wales and are perhaps living abroad temporarily or for work, we can still petition for your divorce here.

Q. We are a same sex couple – is the divorce law different for us?

A. Thank goodness – no – not any longer! We represent lots of same sex couples who finally now have the same rights as everyone else. There was a silly period when things were different, but Parliament came to their senses and it’s now all the same for LQBTQ+ couples.

Q. My partner is terrible – do you think I should get a divorce?

A. As silly as this question may sound you would be surprised how often we get asked this. But the answer is always the same. It’s your life and, it’s your marriage. More importantly, it’s your decision. We can’t advise you whether you should or should not divorce. It would be very unprofessional of us to interfere in that way. But once you do make up your mind, we certainly can advise you on the next step.

But we are not just here for the nasty disagreements in life – we can also help with a referral to mediation and broker negotiations between you and your spouse which can result in a better understanding between you both and help save the marriage. Call us for a chat if this is what you need.

Q. I am thinking about divorce but have not really made up my mind – what can you do for me?

A. To start with we can advise you fully of the consequences if you do decide to divorce. This includes the financial consequences, how you can expect the matrimonial assets to be split and, the impact on your children. We can write to your spouse and instigate some rapport and encourage them to attend mediation or come to their senses. Sometimes it just takes a little reality check for couples to realise how much they still love each other and, how they can work to save their marriage. Not everything we do is war. Often times we able to get couples who have grown apart to reintegrate, talk through their problems and work toward a peaceful resolution. We will always try this route first – before going down the route of litigation.

We will always work with you to get what you want. You are the most important factor – always!

Q. We are going through mediation – what can you do for me?

A. We act as a legal adviser in mediation. We remain in the background. You attend the mediation meetings and we prepare you for each and every stage. We ensure that you enter each phase of mediation, armed with the knowledge and the law. We teach you how to defend your corner. We help put all the figures together and work out complex financial implications of divorce.

If you reach an agreement together through mediation, we draw it up into a legal and enforceable agreement called a ‘consent order’. With us behind you, you are protected all the way.

If you want an expert family law divorce lawyer to protect you during marriage breakdown – contact us or email us your questions.