Going through a divorce is always a stressful experience, no matter the circumstances which is why here at BLJ, we always aim to make the process as straightforward as possible. We’ve put together this handy guide with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions our expert family team has received over the years. If your question hasn’t been answered, or you require further information, you can speak to a member of the team on 03444 124348.
How long do you need to have been married for before you can apply for a divorce?
You need to have been legally married for a period of at least 1 year before you can apply for a divorce. Alternatively, you can seek a Legal Separation (also known as a judicial separation) which allows you time to live apart from your partner and consider if you would like to seek a divorce at a later date.
At what point should I contact a solicitor after deciding on a divorce?
You can contact a Solicitor at any stage in the divorce process: for initial advice prior to separation, advice post separation, advice regarding the divorce and when you’re ready to petition for divorce.
Do I have to use a solicitor at all?
Many people now deal with divorce as litigants in person, however it would be strongly advisable to seek legal advice in respect of financial matters as finances are dealt with separately to the divorce.
What information do I need to give my solicitor?
You’ll need to provide the following information: details about your marriage, e.g. the date and place, which can be obtained from your marriage certificate, reasons for the breakdown of the marriage so we can advise on completing the petition, details of financial assets and details of any dependents.
How much is getting a divorce likely to cost?
BLJ charges a fixed fee of £540 (inclusive of VAT) for all stages of the divorce to obtain the decree absolute. Any further work outside of this fixed fee would be charged in addition, for example if your spouse doesn’t acknowledge the divorce petition. Applying for the divorce petition will cost a further £550.
People on benefits or low incomes may be eligible for fee remission. Additional paperwork is required for this, however we are able to advise on eligibility and the application processes.
You’re also able to ask the court to issue a costs order against your spouse, however this is not always possible, and you aren’t guaranteed to get your money back.
For victims of domestic abuse, legal aid is available. In order to be eligible, relevant proof of domestic abuse by a spouse is required as well as means testing. BLJ offers divorce on this basis – please contact us directly to discuss this further and to find out if you could be eligible.
How long does the process take?
For straightforward divorces, the process usually takes between 4-6 months from the completion of the divorce petition to the decree absolute. If there are any additional applications required to progress the petition or if there is difficulty reaching an agreement in respect of finances, it can take longer. We also advise to wait to obtain the decree absolute until financial agreement has been reached and recorded in an order, as divorce affects things such as pension claims and inheritance rights.
What happens if my spouse refuses to get a divorce?
Currently, one spouse has to allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour against the other to start divorce proceedings straight away, and if your spouse contests the divorce petition, you may be required to wait until 5 years of separation to divorce. However, new laws are to be by introduced by the government which will remove this ability from the spouse and allow for no fault divorces, although a date is yet to be confirmed.
Will I need to go to court in person?
This is very unlikely; you would only need to attend court if there is a contested hearing or you wish to contest the making of a costs order against you or oppose the divorce. Otherwise, the divorce is dealt with on paper.
Do you need to have a financial settlement in place before a divorce can be finalised?
We would recommend having a financial settlement in place before finalising your divorce, however the two are completely separate and some people seek to obtain a decree absolute prior to reaching an agreement in respect of finances, particularly if they intend to remarry in the immediate future. This also may apply if there are no financial assets of the marriage.
If we change our minds, are we able to stop the divorce going through?
Until the moment the decree absolute is issued, you are still married in the eyes of the law and so you’re able to halt the process at any point prior to that should you change your mind.
For more information about our divorce services, speak to a member of our family team by calling 03444 124348.