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Divorce Solicitors

We know that divorce can be difficult and that it may be the next step in an already challenging relationship. Our team of friendly divorce solicitors in Milton Keynes, BicesterWatford are here to guide you through the process as swiftly as possible and with minimum pain.

As specialist divorce solicitors we can help you with any divorce related matters, such as finances and child arrangements.

To prevent further difficulties in the future, it is best to seek tailored legal assistance and relevant information from specialist divorce solicitors early on. An experienced family divorce lawyer will be able to guide you towards a fair outcome that will allow you to move forward with your life.

Find out where you stand with our tailored divorce guidance

If you are ready to take the next step, click the button below to provide us with detailed information about your individual circumstances and get a better understanding of your financial position, and that of your spouse. We will then work closely with you and provide appropriate legal guidance and legal information so that you can take the right steps. Our specialist legal services mean you receive tailored guidance from divorce solicitors from the moment you start working with us.

How long does a divorce take?

This is a difficult question to answer. It often depends on how quickly the Courts are dealing with divorce applications, as it can sometimes take longer when the Courts receive a large number of applications. Roughly, a divorce – from start to finish – takes around 6 months. If, however, it takes you and your spouse longer to agree financial matters, then it can take longer. A good divorce solicitor will advise that it is best not to finalise the divorce until the finances are agreed and a Consent Order or final determination from the Court has been received.

How long it will take to resolve the financial side of a divorce will vary greatly from couple to couple. For example, if there are shares in a business, multiple properties or large pensions to consider then it may take longer to reach an agreement versus a marriage that has relatively straight-forward assets (where only the family home needs to be dealt with) as it may be that expert reports are required in order to fully understand more complex matrimonial finances.

Divorce process

Below is a brief timeline to the divorce process:

  • Step 1: the divorce application is completed and sent to the court;
  • Step 2: the court issues the application, and if applicable, the Respondent confirms that they have received a copy of the application by completing the Acknowledgement of Service form;
  • Step 3: the middle stage of the divorce, the Conditional Order , is granted;
  • Step 4: the Final Order is granted, bringing the marriage to an end.

How to get a divorce?

The process of getting a divorce – from completing the divorce application to when to apply for the Final Order – can be confusing. By working with us and receiving advice from specialist divorce solicitors, we can help guide you through it. The infographic opposite sets out the different stages that you will go through and what you need to tell the Court in order for a divorce to be granted.

Divorce Financial Settlements

Financial matters are dealt with independently to the actual divorce. It is possible, therefore, to get divorced without formally sorting out your finances by way of a Consent Order. However, this is not advisable as it may leave you open to financial claims by your ex-partner later down the line, especially if their circumstances should change. A family law solicitor can advise you on what a fair and reasonable financial settlement would be and assist with putting this in place before the Final Order is pronounced, thereby making sure you are protected and not left vulnerable.

How much does a divorce cost?

The average costs associated with uncontested divorce proceedings generally fall within 2 categories:

  1. Solicitors and professional costs – these will vary depending on the specialist knowledge and expertise of the family divorce lawyer, geographical location and level of experience. The petitioner in the divorce proceedings should budget in the region of £500 – £750 plus VAT. If you are the respondent in the proceedings, the fees you incur are likely to be much lower – around £200 – £400 plus VAT.
  2. Disbursements – these are expenses incurred by a solicitor whilst completing work on behalf of a client. In relation to divorce proceedings, for most parties this will only be the divorce application fee charged by the Court of £593. Other disbursements that may apply might include obtaining a replacement marriage certificate or organising a translation of the marriage certificate if the ceremony took place abroad.

What are my rights in a divorce?

There is no law that states that one party of a divorce has more rights than the other. However, statute does set down a number of factors that the court needs to consider, as set out in Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act. The aim is to achieve fairness. Fairness is obviously a different concept in every case as it is dependent upon the parties’ circumstances.

What do lawyers do in a divorce?

At such a difficult time, a family law solicitor or lawyer can guide you through the whole divorce process, making it as stress-free as possible. A solicitor or family lawyer can help you complete the divorce application to ensure that there are no errors that may delay your divorce. They can also communicate with your ex-partner or their solicitors so that you don’t have to.

In addition, they can:

  • Listen to you and discuss what your options are
  • Let you know what your rights are and where you stand
  • Explain what rights your ex-partner has
  • Give you reliable and accredited legal advice about your home and financial matters

A family solicitor can also negotiate on your behalf in relation to financial matters and/or any associated child arrangements. They can also make any necessary applications to the Court, for example for interim maintenance. If you have agreed all the financial arrangements, then it is still advisable to get a solicitor to prepare any financial orders for the Court to approve.

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There is a common misconception that there are several ‘grounds for divorce’ and this phrase was often used in the past when someone described the reason for a divorce petition being issued, for example, adultery or unreasonable behaviour. However, there has only ever been (and continues to be) one ground for divorce, and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. In the past you had to choose from one of 5 reasons (or facts) in order to prove that this had happened, but from 06 April 2022 this is no longer necessary.

In order to apply for a divorce, you must complete a divorce application.  This can either be done through a solicitor (who will make a charge for completing the paperwork), or via the online portal. There is a court fee for applying for a divorce, which is currently £593.

In the application you will need to provide a statement that confirms that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and provide your personal details, along with those of your spouse.  The court will require a copy of your marriage certificate – if you are applying online, you will need to upload a colour copy of your marriage certificate. If you do not have your marriage certificate, then you can apply for a certified copy online for a small fee.

The application will also ask whether you want to ask your spouse to contribute towards your divorce costs.  It is usual for divorce costs to be split evenly between the parties. Once you have sent off the divorce application, the court will consider the divorce paperwork.  Providing everything is in order, a copy of the document will be posted to your spouse by the court, or both of you if you have made a joint application.

If your spouse has made a sole application for divorce, then when the court sends you a copy of the divorce application, it will also send an  Acknowledgement of Service form. This is the form that you need to complete, as the Respondent, in order to reply to the divorce application. Once completed, the Acknowledgement of Service must be sent back to the court, who will then provide a copy to the Applicant.

If you are unsure about any aspect of the Acknowledgement of Service then it is best to seek legal advice before returning it to the court in order to avoid any unnecessary delays further down the line.

Technically, you do not need to get a divorce. However, by not divorcing or sorting out the matrimonial finances you are leaving yourself open to future claims from your ex-spouse as the length of marriage continues to grow – and if for example something catastrophic happens to your former spouse then their claims against you may increase significantly. Nor will you be able to remarry, should you wish.

Yes, you can although we would encourage you to try and agree perhaps to share the costs. In the divorce application there is a section where you can ask the court to make an order that your spouse pays all or some of the divorce costs. As the Applicant is the party who bears most of the divorce costs, it is not unusual for them to ask the other party to pay 50% towards these. However, remember that these costs are in relation to the divorce itself. Any costs incurred in order to sort out financial matters are separate to the divorce costs.

It is possible for your spouse to object to paying all or some of the divorce costs, depending on their income or personal circumstances. As any such objection will cause a delay to the divorce proceeding, it is best to come to an agreement between you (if possible) before the petition is sent to the court in order to avoid proceedings becoming protracted or raising animosity levels.

In England and Wales there is one ground for divorce, which is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

Irreconcilable differences (which simply means that the parties don’t get on any more) is not strong enough on its own for the court to agree that the parties should get divorced.

If you have not dealt with financial matters and obtained a sealed consent order from the court, then yes, your spouse can make a claim against you in the future in relation to finances. Without a court order, there is no time limit in which your ex-spouse can make a claim – it can even be decades after the Final Order (or Decree Absolute if you were divorced prior to 06 April 20200) was pronounced, as long as the person bringing the proceedings has not remarried.

The divorce itself does not sever any financial commitments you have to each other, it simply brings your marriage to an end and allows you to marry again, if you wish. This means that not only could your ex-spouse make a claim against any money from the marriage, but they can also try and claim against any future assets – although there are limits to this.

The exception to this would be if there is a pre-nuptial agreement or post-nuptial agreement in place. Although these do not provide absolute protection, having a pre or post-nuptial agreement in place can – if done properly – really assist in limiting claims against you in the future.

Your ex-spouse’s ability to make a claim regarding finances against you will depend on whether:

  • they have remarried – as once a spouse has remarried, they will have terminated, by virtue of the remarriage, any claims that they could make against you. However, it is important to note that only if both parties remarry are all financial ties severed. If only one party remarries, then the other can still make a claim against the unmarried party;
  • whether there is a consent order in place (as mentioned above).

In summary the only way to completely break all financial ties to each other is:

  1. obtain a sealed consent order from the court; or
  2. both parties remarry

Yes, you can, as long as you are habitually resident in England or Wales, or either you or your spouse (or both of you) have been habitually resident in England or Wales for a least a year prior to the divorce application being issued.

Habitual residence is considered to be the country where you have your closest ties – such as where you live and work, a place where you reside regularly. You can only be habitually resident in one country at any given time.

The only slight issue with issuing a divorce application when your ex lives abroad is that it may take longer for the court to serve any documents on them (if being sent by international post). Equally, negotiations may take longer if there are different time zones to take into consideration.

Experienced Divorce Solicitors Hawkins Family Law

We are a specialist law firm, focusing solely on family law matters, such as divorce and separation, and everything that comes with these life-changing events. Established in 2001, the team at Hawkins Family Law are all ‘people’ people and we are committed to producing rounded outcomes for our clients, offering expertise in whatever forum works best for you, always aiming to reach a family dispute resolution as swiftly as possible and with minimum pain.

By working with Hawkins Family Law, you will receive specialist divorce legal advice and assistance. We will provide legal guidance on the best form of dispute resolution, such as collaborative law, to resolve the issues with your partner or ex-partner. We offer these services whether you are married or in a civil partnership.

The way in which you approach your divorce or separation is your choice, but with Hawkins Family Law you can be assured of our consistently high levels of support and guidance from our family law solicitors in Milton Keynes, Bicester & Watford.

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