If your marriage has broken down and you’re thinking of divorce, it is important to understand what happens during the divorce process.
‘Divorce’ refers to the official ending of your marriage contract. There are several other matters that will need to be dealt with when you divorce, including the division of your property, financial matters, and arrangements for your children.
In this article, we answer several questions on the topic of what happens during a divorce. Click on any of the questions in the list below to be taken to that section.
- What are the grounds for divorce in England and Wales?
- What is the divorce process?
- How do I avoid conflict when divorcing?
- How do I apply for a Decree Nisi?
- How do I apply for a Decree Absolute?
- What happens when I receive a divorce petition?
- How long will my divorce take?
- What should I ask my divorce lawyer?
What are the grounds for divorce in England and Wales?
To get a divorce in England and Wales, you must have been married for at least one year.
Although there has been consideration by the government to introduce a ‘no-fault divorce’, the only ground for divorce in England and Wales is if your marriage has irretrievably broken down. A breakdown of marriage must be shown by proving at least one of these reasons:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Separated for 2 years, with consent to divorce
- Separated for 5 years, without consent to divorce
You can read more about establishing a breakdown of marriage in our blog: What are the grounds for divorce?
What is the divorce process?
After establishing how your marriage has irretrievably broken down, the first step to get a divorce is to complete a divorce petition, a document asking the court to end your marriage or civil partnership. This document requires you to fill out some information about you and your spouse.
Our divorce experts can assist you with completing your divorce petition and will advise on the best course of action to minimise any costs and conflict throughout your divorce proceedings.
How do I avoid conflict when divorcing?
Divorce can be a very emotional and personal subject to discuss, whatever the reasons behind it may be.
In most cases, we would advise you to talk to your spouse before filing your petition at court. This can help to avoid them getting a shock when they receive a copy of the petition from the court and gives you both a chance to get their agreement in advance of proceedings.
Getting their agreement in advance can save you both a lot of time, arguments and money. If your petition for divorce is contested, this can lead to a much more time-consuming and expensive process for both parties.
How do I apply for a Decree Nisi?
If the divorce petition is uncontested, then your divorce lawyer can apply to the court for a ‘Decree Nisi’.
A Decree Nisi is a declaration from the court saying that they see no reason why you should not be granted a divorce. However, a Decree Nisi is not the final say for your divorce; that comes from a ‘Decree Absolute’.
How do I apply for a Decree Absolute?
A Decree Absolute is a Court Order that officially ends your marriage contract. A Decree Absolute can’t be applied for by your lawyer until at least 6 weeks from the date of your Decree Nisi. This time-frame allows you to deal with any financial matters before your divorce.
What happens when I receive a divorce petition?
If your spouse has decided to divorce you, then legally you must be informed of this decision by receiving a copy of the divorce petition by post.
If you want to contest this divorce or not, you should always seek legal advice from an expert divorce lawyer and family law specialist.
You may decide to ‘cross-petition’ your spouse at this point. A cross-petition means that you agree to get a divorce, but you do not agree with the claims made against you in the divorce petition.
If you are happy to go ahead with the divorce, it will be beneficial at this point to speak to your solicitor, particularly if there are any children, property or financial assets that you will need to reach an agreement over with your spouse.
How long will my divorce take?
The length of the divorce process depends on a number of factors.
If your spouse is cooperative with you during the divorce and the Court administration process has no backlog, your divorce should be granted in 4 – 6 months.
However, if there are any complications during your divorce process or the divorce is contested, it could take up to 12 months to finalise your divorce and sometimes longer in extreme cases.
What should I ask my divorce lawyer?
Before deciding on which divorce lawyer you should use, it is important to ask them several key questions to make sure you both understand your own specific and personal circumstances.
When you meet with the lawyer, you should take your marriage certificate and your passport or driving license for ID. You should also take a bank statement or utility bill that is less than 3 months old and shows your address.
You should always ask your lawyer the following questions:
- How long will the divorce process take?
- How much will my divorce cost?
- How often will you update me?
- Will I need to go to court, and what will happen if I do?
Why choose Birchall Blackburn Law?
The decision to divorce your husband or wife can be difficult and emotional and could have a large impact on you and your family. It is important to choose a divorce lawyer and family law expert who will listen to you with sympathy and has a deep understanding of your particular concerns.
Our specialist family law team will deal with your divorce with compassion and sensitivity to guide you through what can be a complicated process. Our many years of experience allows us to minimise any potential conflict where possible, without losing sight of the need to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Birchall Blackburn Law offers a free 20-minute initial consultation, as well as a fixed-fee initial appointment, during which we will assess your circumstances. To make an enquiry, call us on 0800 614 722 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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