If your relationship has broken down and you are considering divorce, this will undoubtedly be an emotional, stressful and confusing time for you and your loved ones. At Sutton-Mattocks Solicitors, we are here to guide and support you through the legal and practical steps required to bring a relationship to an end. We aim to reach the most favourable outcome for your family, in the quickest and most stress-free way possible. For expert divorce advice today, please contact our Family Law Partner, Gillian Tyndall.
Grounds for Divorce in England and Wales
You must be married for at least 12 months before you can get a divorce. There is only one ground for divorce in England and Wales: that the marriage has “irretrievably broken down”. Your marriage will be considered to have irretrievably broken down if one of the following circumstances has occurred:
- your spouse has committed adultery and you now find it intolerable to live with them;
- your spouse has behaved in such a way that makes it unreasonable for you to live with them;
- you have been separated for two years and your spouse consents to the divorce;
- you have been separated for five years (note the consent of your spouse is not required in these circumstances); or
- your spouse has left you for a period of at least two years (known as desertion).
The Divorce Process in the UK
You must state the ground on which you are applying for divorce in your divorce petition form. The petition form must also include your name and contact details, and those of your spouse, and a copy of your marriage certificate. Once complete, you should send the paperwork to your local divorce centre.
Your husband or wife will be notified that divorce proceedings have been initiated. They must respond to the notice within eight days, either agreeing or disagreeing with the petition. In the majority of cases the petition will proceed on an agreed basis.
At Sutton-Mattocks, we will explain to you the legal practicalities involved in applying for a divorce and ensure each step is carried out correctly and without delay. We will also describe the options open to you if your husband or wife disagrees with the divorce petition or starts divorce proceedings against you.
We understand that if your relationship has come to an end, your children’s best interests should be at the centre of every decision you make. We have extensive experience in resolving children issues arising from the breakdown of a relationship, including child arrangements including relocating within the UK or abroad with your children. We can also advise on child maintenance provision. We will provide the most practical and positive solutions that protect your children.
Property and Financial Arrangements
Many people believe that when a relationship breaks down the couple’s assets are simply split down the middle. In reality, several factors – such as the ages of each party, the length of the marriage, income and earning capacity of each spouse and their future needs – will be considered to reach the fairest outcome. We will take the time to get to know your situation so we can provide a realistic estimate of the settlement you could achieve. We always aim to reach a successful financial arrangement through negotiation or mediation. However, where this does not produce a fair result, we can represent you in court proceedings.
Legal separation is a way for a couple to live apart without legally ending their marriage or civil partnership. In difficult times, some couples choose legal separation rather than divorce because, for example, it gives them some time apart to consider whether they wish to formalise their separation. Legal separation may also be the most practical solution, for example where you have been married for less than one year and so you are unable to get a divorce immediately.
Dissolving a Civil Partnership
If your civil partnership has broken down, you must show that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. The circumstances that will prove this has happened are the same for divorce (unreasonable behaviour, desertion, etc.) although adultery is not a valid ground. The process to end a civil partnership is similar to that for divorce, and it will be important to reach a fair arrangement for children, money and property. If you do not want to divorce for any reason, you can apply for legal separation instead.
Contact our Divorce Law Solicitors in Barnes & Chiswick, London
At Sutton-Mattocks, we regularly support families during relationship breakdowns. We work with clients from a wide range of backgrounds, including mid to high net worth individuals.
We understand these are challenging times and that is why our approach is both sensitive and professional, helping you to get a stress-free and successful resolution to your case. We will listen to your concerns and wishes carefully to provide advice that is the most appropriate for your circumstances, and which gives you confidence in your future. We will make sure you understand all the options open to you and what they will mean for you and your family.
We can advise you on all matters relating to divorce, legal separation and ending a civil partnership, financial and property arrangements, issues affecting your children. Gillian Tyndall specialises in resolving financial and children matters arising from the breakdown of a relationship. Gillian is a member of Resolution, a UK organisation of family lawyers committed to a non-confrontational approach to resolving family problems, as well as the Law Society Family Law Panel.