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A guide to the divorce process

We understand that a divorce can be particularly daunting, especially if you are unsure on the steps that you need to take, after all, there may only be a small number of family members or friends who can share their experiences with you – and it may not be wholly relevant to your individual situation. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the divorce process and each of the stages involved.

When can you get a divorce?

You can only get a divorce if you’ve been married for at least one year. If you and your partner can agree on the exact reason why you’re getting divorced, you may be able to get divorced without requiring a solicitor. Of course, if you or your partner do not agree to divorcing, or do not agree on the reason behind the separation, then a family law solicitor will be essential in supporting you through the divorce process.

When you apply for a divorce, you need to prove that your marriage has completely broken down and cannot be salvaged. You’ll therefore need to provide one or more of the following 5 causes:

  • The respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent.
  • The respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
  • The respondent has deserted the petitioner for at least 2 years.
  • The parties have lived apart for 2 years and the respondent consents to divorce.
  • The parties have lived apart for 5 years.

Each of these reasons comes with a set of stipulations and that’s where one of Noble’s expert family law solicitors will be able to help. For example, you can’t give adultery as a reason if you’ve lived together for more than 6 months after you’ve found out about it, whilst ‘unreasonable behaviour’ includes behaviour such as physical violence, verbal abuse, drunkenness, drug-taking or refusing to pay towards shared living expenses.

Before making an application

Depending on your individual circumstances, there may be certain arrangements that need to be made before applying for a divorce. For example, if you have children, you may require arrangements for looking after the children, as well as child maintenance payments. You may even want to divide your money and property, but there is a deadline if you want to make this legally binding. That said it’s important to keep in mind that you can avoid hearings if you both agree on children, money, property and the reasons for terminating the marriage.

What are the costs involved?

It does of course depend on your individual circumstances and the level of support you need, however, the flat fee to file a divorce in England is £550 (when you send your divorce application to the divorce centre).

How are disagreements resolved?

If there is no way you can come to an agreement, or if there are problems with costs such as who should pay the divorce fee, it is usually best to go to court and when you decide to go down this route it’s essential to obtain legal advice from experienced solicitors. A solicitor can help you decide on which of the 5 facts for divorce you want to use and tell you what evidence you’ll need. They can also speak to your ex-partner and their solicitor so you don’t have to. Whilst many people fear “going to court” especially when they have children, it’s important to understand that the court will always put the welfare of the children first.

As experienced solicitors, we know just how important it is to advise you on the best options for you and your family. If for example, you cannot agree where the children should live or whom they should live with, the Judge will decide. We always recommend our clients try and avoid this situation happening before commencing divorce proceedings. We would therefore advise you try mediation first to help you come to a conclusion.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process in which trained, impartial mediators help those involved in family breakdowns, playing a pivotal role in ensuring separating and divorcing couples communicate better with one another and to reach informed decisions about some or all of the related issues. Mediation is more likely to succeed if the sessions are structured in a way that focuses on the main obstructions. Highly trained mediators will then listen to both of your points of view but at no stage will they take sides. It’s also up to the mediator to help create a calm and comfortable atmosphere where you can reach an agreement that you’re both happy with.

What happens after you make the divorce application?

After you’ve sent an application for divorce, the divorce centre will stamp a copy of your application and you’ll be assigned a case number. The court will then send your husband or wife the application along with an ‘acknowledgement of service’ form. They then need to respond, and they can either agree with the divorce or defend the divorce (attempt to prevent it). If your ex-partner decided to defend the divorce, your next step may be to apply for a decree nisi. A decree nisi is a document that can be granted by the court, stating that the court does not see any reason why you cannot divorce.

How can Noble Solicitors help you?

We know that relationships can be complex, especially those that break down, but we’ve helped many people come through difficult periods to achieve a positive outcome. To learn more about us and how we can help you, or to request an appointment with our Family Law Team, please call us today on 07000 81 82 83 or send us an email at and we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible.

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