Your Questions Answered by Our Experts
Our Divorce and Family Law experts at George Green answer your questions.
Can I get a divorce?
You can get a divorce in England and Wales if you have been married for at least one year and are able to show the court the marriage has broken down. To prove to the court you are entitled to a divorce you need to rely on one of the following facts:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Desertion (your partner leaving with out your consent for a period of two years or more)
- Two year separation and your partner agrees to the divorce
- Five year separation or more, you do not need your partner to agree to the divorce in this case
How long will my divorce take?
As long as your husband or wife agrees to the divorce, from the date of issue it will usually take between four to six months from the date the petition is issued. There is then a further six week period before the Decree Absolute can be applied for and the divorce finalised. This can sometimes take longer if financial matters need to be resolved.
Will I have to go to court to get a divorce?
No, if your divorce is undefended as both parties accept the marriage has broken down neither party will need to attend court unless there is a dispute over divorce costs. If disputes arise involving financial matters or the children, you may need to attend court to resolve the dispute. Our divorce and family lawyers at George Green offer mediation and other out-of-court options please contact a member of the team to find out more.
What is mediation?
Family mediation is a quicker more cost effective way of dealing with the financial aspects of the divorce and disagreements with regard to the arrangements for the children. It enables the divorce to be completed without conflict and enable you and your family to stay in control when making decisions about children, properties and finances. Rachel Baker, the head of the family department at George Green LLP, is a trained mediator.
What if my partner does not agree to mediation?
Mediation can only be successful if both parties are willing to participate. Unfortunately if your partner does not agree to mediation then mediation cannot take place and negotiations will have to take place through your respective solicitors or in the context of court proceedings. Our expert divorce and family law solicitors will guide through the process every step of the way.
What are the benefits of mediation?
Mediation has a lot benefits for you and your family for example it reduces the cost of getting a divorce, it’s a lot quicker than going to court, it enables you and your partner to stay in control when making decisions about your children, family home and finances.
What is a Decree Nisi?
A Decree Nisi is an order made by the court when it has considered the paperwork submitted by the parties and is satisfied that the Petitioner (the person applying for the divorce) is entitled to a divorce. This is not the final order in the divorce.
What is a Decree Absolute?
A Decree Absolute is a final order from the court officially ending a marriage and enabling either party to remarry.
Who will keep my kids, following the divorce or separation?
The majority of couples are able to agree what is best for the children between themselves or with the help of a mediator or their solicitor.
If an agreement cannot be reached, you will need to consider whether mediation is appropriate. If mediation is not appropriate then you can make an application for the court to decide the best arrangements for your children.
The court will make a Child Arrangement Order which regulates the arrangements of where a child will live and with whom they are to spend time or otherwise have contact.
The order will state in detail how the child’s time is to be divided. In most cases an order will specify that a child is to spend time with both parents but the amount of time spent which each parent may not be equal. However the order is a reflection of the equal status of both parents in the eyes on the court. Alternatively the court may decide the child is to live with one parent only and have contact with the other. In some cases it is appropriate for contact to be supervised or limited to indirect contact for examples by letters or cards.
What is parental responsibility and how can I apply?
Parental responsibility simply means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibility and authority parents normally have in relation to their children. It includes being consulted in relation to all major decisions in a child’s life such as education, religion, medical treatments and the change of a child’s name.
Unmarried fathers do not automatically acquire parental responsibility for their children unless they are named on the birth certificate.
Our divorce and family lawyers can advise you on applying for parental responsibility.
What is a joint lives basis?
This is an order the court makes for one party to pay maintenance to the other. The terms joint lives means for the remainder of their life unless the court makes a further Order, the receiving party remarries or either party dies.
What is a pension sharing order?
An order the court makes transferring a share of a Pension from one party to the other.
My ex-partner isn’t paying his child maintenance, what can I do?
You can apply to the Child Maintenance Service (“CMS”) previously known as the CSA. There is also the possibility of applying to the court for financial assistance.
What is a pre-nuptial agreement?
Many of our clients view a pre-nuptial agreement as an insurance policy. Our family lawyers would advise clients to consider a pre-nuptial agreement if:
- You are bringing wealth into a marriage or civil partnership
- You have business assets that you would like to protect
- You are getting married for the first time and want to keep any assets owned prior to the marriage separate
- You are getting married for a second time and wish to protect your assets
- You want to preserve assets for your children.
At present, pre-nuptial agreements are not strictly binding however they can be increasingly persuasive as a starting point for the division of assets following a divorce or breakdown of a relationship. The agreement provides clear evidence of a couple’s intention at the outset of the relationship and of the assets each partner brought to the marriage or civil partnership.
What will happen to my finances and assets? For example the family home
Both parties must provide full details of their financial positions through a process known as financial disclosure. Once disclosure has taken place, they look to reach an agreement as to the division of their assets. An agreement can be reached directly between the parties through mediation, collaborative law or negotiations conducted through the divorce and family law solicitors.
Once an agreement has been reached it is noted in a consent form which is signed by both parties and sent into court for approval. Once approved by the court it creates a legally binding financial settlement.
If it is not possible to reach an agreement outside of court, we would advise the issue of court proceedings known as financial remedy proceedings. This involves the court assisting the parties of a divorce or civil partnership dissolution to reach a financial settlement. The court has the power to give any of the following orders Interim maintenance, Periodical payments, Lump sum payment, Transfer of property and Pension adjustment orders, for more information click here.
Once proceedings are issued a strict timetable is put in place and action can be taken against a party who fails to comply with this, for example by failing to disclose their assets. This process is designed to help couples reach a settlement by agreement, in which case a consent order will be filed and the proceedings brought to an end. The majority of cases settle however where this is not possible, the court will impose a settlement on the parties.
How can I stop my ex-partner moving away with my kids?
You can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. The court would then assess and decide what is in the children’s best interests. These types of order can be made on an emergency basis if necessary.
How can I stop my ex-partner harassing me?
There are a range of court orders which can be obtained to protect you from abuse and to stop the abuser coming into your home. Breach of such an order is a criminal defence and will be dealt with by the police.
Non-molestation orders prevent a person using or threatening violence against another or from being abusive towards, pestering or harassing another. Breach of such an order is a criminal offence and will be dealt with by the police.
The court can also make orders regulating the occupation of a property. These can be used to force a perpetrator of domestic abuse to leave a property and if necessary the court can attach a power of arrest to the order to enable the perpetrator to be immediately arrested in the event he/she attempts to return to the property while the order remains in force.
For more advice please contact one of our family lawyers.