The breakdown of a relationship or a family dispute can be stressful and is rarely straightforward. That is why our specialist family lawyers aim to provide realistic and pragmatic advice to both married and unmarried couples and civil partners, to ensure that clients are equipped with the information and guidance they need to decide what is right for them. We know how stressful the process can be and we aim to provide an understanding ear as well as clear, professional advice.
Our specialist family lawyers act for clients across Essex, the wider Home Counties region and London. We are committed to resolving family disputes in a constructive and non-adversarial way, but will adopt a more robust approach and use the court process when necessary.
- How do I start divorce proceedings?
- Divorce proceedings (and dissolution of a civil partnership) are started when you file a petition with the court. There is a court fee of £550 payable upon filing your petition with the court and the court will require your original marriage/civil partnership certificate to be filed with your petition.
- How long will it take me to get divorced?
- A straightforward, uncontested divorce or dissolution can usually be completed within four to six months. However, it is usually advisable to resolve the financial matters before the final decree, decree absolute, is obtained. A spouse or civil partner will generally have special rights and benefits under a pension and these, amongst others, will be lost once the marriage/civil partnership is dissolved. Therefore, it is important to know for certain what your financial circumstances will be before your marriage/civil partnership is legally ended.
- How much does it cost to get divorced?
- Divorce costs vary on a case by case basis, and much will depend upon whether you are the petitioner (i.e. the party starting the proceedings) or the respondent to the proceedings. The same applies to dissolution of a civil partnership. At Baxter Harries, we aim to provide a competitive but high-quality service and ensure that clear and reasonable costs estimates are provided from the outset.
- How long do I need to have been married before I can get divorced?
- You will have to have been married or a civil partner for one year before you can commence proceedings, as there is an absolute bar to presenting a petition in the first year of marriage.
- Can we get back together even though divorce proceedings have been started?
- There are two decrees of divorce/dissolution. The first decree is decree nisi. Decree nisi is an order made by the court confirming that the basis of the petition has been proven and that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. A petitioner then has to wait six weeks and one day before applying for the second and final decree, decree absolute, which is the document that brings the marriage/civil partnership to a legal end. The waiting period between decree nisi and decree absolute gives the parties time to give serious consideration as to whether they really want to end their legal relationship. Therefore, it is possible to reconcile and remain married or in your civil partnership provided decree absolute has not been obtained. If you do reconcile prior to obtaining decree absolute, the proceedings will need to be formally withdrawn.
- How do we sort out our finances on divorce/dissolution or separation?
- There are various ways of resolving the financial matters upon a breakdown of a relationship. These include:1. Discussing matters directly between you.
2. Negotiating through solicitors.
4. Making a formal application to the court (although this should be a last resort).Another option for those going through divorce or dissolution is the collaborative process, which involves a number of four-way meetings between you, your spouse/civil partner and your lawyers (who must be collaboratively trained).Whichever method you choose, it is important that financial matters are addressed when a relationship comes to an end, particularly for those who are married or civil partners as the financial connections that exist between a married couple are not automatically extinguished on the pronouncement of decree absolute.
- What financial orders can the court make on divorce or dissolution?
- The court can make a number of financial orders. The most common types are:1. Property adjustment orders, which adjust the ownership of property. For example, the court can order that the former family home be transferred out of the parties’ joint names and in to one of their sole names.
2. Pension sharing orders, which provide for the transfer of all or part of one party’s pension to be transferred to the other party.
3. Periodical payments orders, requiring one party to pay regular maintenance to the other.
4. Lump sum orders, which require one party to pay a lump sum of money to the other party.
- What is a separation agreement?
- A separation agreement can be used by both married and unmarried couples who have decided that their relationship is at end and wish to formally record what is going to happen to their finances. A separation agreement records a couple’s intention to live apart and how their finances are to be arranged on separation. It can also record any agreement that has been reached in respect of arrangements for the children.
- Is a separation agreement binding on divorce?
- A separation agreement is treated in a similar way to a pre or post nuptial agreement in that it is not a legally binding agreement, and the court retains the ability to determine how the marital assets should be divided on divorce. However, if the separation agreement has been properly drawn up and certain safeguards have been met, the court is likely to hold the parties to the terms of the agreement.
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