Q. What are the grounds for Divorce in England?
A: All divorces in this country are obtained by proving that your marriage has “irretrievably broken down”. You must rely on one of the five legal grounds listed below:
1. Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to continue living with them.
2. Your spouse has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue living with them.
3. Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of two years or more.
4. You and your spouse have lived separately for a continuous period of two years or more and both of you consent to the divorce.
5. You and your spouses have lived separately for a continuous period of five years.
Further conditions on divorce are that you must have been married for at least a year before you start the divorce proceedings and one of you must have been living in the UK for the last twelve months. It does not matter if you were married in another country. If neither of you have lived in the UK for the last 12 months, contact us for more specialist advice on jurisdiction as it still may be possible for an English court to deal with your divorce.
For more information see our downloadable factsheet
Q. Do I have to have a Solicitor?
A: No, it is not necessary to obtain the assistance of a solicitor but it can definitely help. During the divorce process you will be required to fill in court forms and to respond to reasonable enquiries from your spouse, or their solicitor If any of the paperwork is completed incorrectly, this can cause delay and sometimes even increase the court fees payable. We can ensure all the papers are in order for you so that the process is as quick and simple as possible.
A solicitor will also give you a clear understanding of what you might expect as a financial settlement ie how to divide the assets from the marriage. You may not be aware of how the courts decide such things and the early advice of a solicitor will help you to plan for a realistic and fair settlement. It is important to try and negotiate to settle the financial issues amicably. A solicitor will assist you in doing this. This is important as if the court decides you have acted unreasonably at any stage, they can require you to pay some of your spouse’s legal costs.
Q. What will happen to our children?
A: Arrangements for your children are not automatically dealt with when you apply for divorce. The Court will only involve itself in your arrangements for the children if you or your spouse make an application for this to be dealt with. We would always encourage you to reach an agreement with your spouse on children issues wherever possible. However, we can take emergency action to safeguard your position if you feel the children are ever at risk.
Q. What will it cost to get divorced? Are there additional costs?
A: At Curwens we offer fixed price divorces – check our website pages for more details. The court fees remain the same (£550 in total) but our fees will depend on how much of the work you are prepared to do yourself – ranging from a complete DIY package (at only £49 + vat) up to full representation.
Resolving any issues regarding the arrangements for the children and the finances are separate services because they are more complex and unique to your personal circumstances. These services are usually chargeable on a time basis – depending on how long it takes to bring matters to a conclusion. If you cannot reach agreement about these issues amicably, the cost will be greater. We encourage prompt and realistic negotiations aimed at reaching a positive agreement wherever possible.
Solicitors are obliged to give you information at regular intervals about how much the costs are. Public Funding (Legal Aid) is rarely available in family cases now and Curwens no longer operate a Public Funding franchise in any event.
Q. Who gets the house? How can I make sure I get my personal things out of the divorce?
A: This very much depends on your family’s circumstances – e.g. how long you have been married, whether there are minor children, and what other assets and income you each have.
Generally speaking, all the assets (the house, cars, savings etc.) are considered “matrimonial assets” regardless of who bought them or whose name they are held in. Firstly, there needs to be full disclosure of all assets, along with any liabilities and details of income, pensions and businesses. Once you have exchanged this information we can assist you in trying to reach an amicable agreement over how to divide the assets between you and your spouse. If agreement cannot be reached, it may be necessary to ask the Court to help make a decision for you.
You would usually each retain those personal belongings you bought or which were given to you. Under normal circumstances any such difficulties are resolved quickly with or without the assistance of your solicitor.
Q. Can I keep my pension?
A: This will depend on its value, what other assets there are, and how long the marriage lasted. Pension values always have to be disclosed, but if you are both young, there are no children and the marriage was very short, you are likely to retain your entire pension fund. However, the court has the power to make a Pension Sharing Order if it seems fair and reasonable in all the circumstances– this means a percentage of your pension fund is transferred into your spouse’s name at the time of the divorce.
Q. Do I automatically start to use my maiden name after my divorce?
A: No. Your legal name remains unaffected by the divorce proceedings, but if you want to simply revert to your maiden name this is possible using your birth certificate and the Decree Absolute (final divorce order). If you want to change to any other name, or revert to your maiden name without any divorce, you need a formal Change of Name Deed which we can draw up for you.