If you decide that your marriage or civil partnership is over, talk to us about ways forward on separation including divorce, a separation deed, judicial separation or an annulment.
The procedure is usually straightforward. The difficulties tend to lie in resolving related issues such as how to separate, where to live, arrangements for the children and money matters. Our expert Family Law solicitors can advise you on all these issues at the outset and will be with you through your divorce or separation every step of the way.
How you choose to deal with divorce and separation can determine the true success of the outcome. Options include "kitchen table" discussions with your ex (after taking initial legal advice), mediation, collaboration, arbitration, solicitor correspondence, roundtable meetings and, if necessary, the family court. At a fixed fee first meeting we can discuss and explore with you the options which will best suit you and your family’s circumstances.
Filing for Divorce
As long as you have been married for more than a year you can go to court to file for a divorce. A divorce can be undefended if you both agree (also called an uncontested divorce), or defended if not. A divorce is granted if it can be shown that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, which means one of the following grounds for divorce must be proven:
You may prefer to reach an agreement about all issues arising out of your separation without involving any court procedures at all. The way this can be achieved is for you to sign a written legal document, called a Separation Deed, which incorporates the agreement you have reached. Commonly such agreements deal with confirmation that you are to live apart and the manner in which money and property are to be dealt with. There are no restrictions on what can and cannot be included in such an agreement. If one of you fails to comply with the terms of a Separation Deed, the other can sue for breach of contract. In any enforcement proceedings, the Separation Deed will not be held to be binding unless you both give full and frank disclosure of your financial circumstances when entering into the agreement. It is important to bear in mind that should either of you make a subsequent financial application to the court, the court is not bound by the financial arrangements contained in the Separation Deed.
A judicial separation is virtually identical to that which applies to a divorce. The essential difference is that the court pronounces a decree of judicial separation rather than a divorce and therefore you and your spouse would remain married. This option might appeal to you if you have a religious or cultural objection to divorce or you wish to remain married in order to retain your automatic entitlements arising under your spouse's pension.
An annulment is an alternative to a divorce if you can show that the marriage was either not valid in the first place or is defective (is a ‘voidable’ marriage). Examples of reasons why a marriage might not be legally valid or might be defective include:
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