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Are you contemplating divorce?

10 Jan 2022

January is typically renowned as a busy month for divorce lawyers as many people resolve to make life changes at the beginning of a new year. If you are contemplating divorce, here are some answers to commonly asked questions you might be asking yourself.

When can I apply for divorce and how long will it take?

For someone to be able to apply for a divorce, they need to have been married for at least twelve months and feel that their marriage has irretrievably broken down.  This is currently proved by one of the following five “facts”:

  1. the other party has committed adultery and the Applicant finds it intolerable to continue living with them;
  2. the other party has behaved in such a way that the Applicant cannot reasonably be expected to live with them;
  3. the other party has deserted the Applicant for a continuous period of at least two years;
  4. the parties have lived separately for at least two years and the other party agrees to the divorce; or
  5. the parties have lived apart for at least five years. After five years the other party’s consent is not required.

These “facts” will apply for anyone who wishes to apply for a divorce up to and including 5 April 2022.  If the responding party agrees that the marriage has irretrievably broken down for the reasons stated on the application, the divorce will be “uncontested” and could be concluded in about 4 months.

From 6 April 2022 the procedure will change as follows:

  • If the parties have been married for at least twelve months and one party decides that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, they can apply for a divorce. There is no requirement to name one of the above “facts”.
  • Parties can submit a joint application for divorce, alongside the current option of one party applying for the divorce.
  • The ability to contest a divorce is removed; and
  • The procedure will take a minimum of six months.

Although the new procedure will take at least six months, it is usually sensible for the applicant in a divorce to ensure that there is a legally binding Financial Remedy Order in place, formalising a financial settlement between the parties, before finalising the divorce.  Unless the parties’ assets are straightforward, it may take longer than four or six months for an agreement to be negotiated and thereafter a Financial Remedy Order prepared and submitted to the Court for approval to become legally binding.

Mediation

If parties cannot agree on how to divide their finances, they may need to make an application to the Court for a Judge to determine this.  These Court applications often take more than a year to conclude, and it is normally best to wait until the conclusion of these proceedings before finalising the divorce.

The vast majority of the above is also correct for civil partnership dissolutions as well as divorce.

What about arrangements for the children?

Parents are encouraged to reach their own agreement about when and for how long the children spend time with each parent.  If the parents cannot reach an agreement directly, it is recommended they attend family mediation, to try to reach an agreement in that forum.  If mediation is unsuitable then, as a last resort, parents can make an application to the Court for the Court to consider the child arrangements and impose an arrangement on the parents and children.  This process is entirely separate from the divorce process.

What does a divorce cost?

At Hay & Kilner we currently charge approximately £650.00 plus VAT for an uncontested divorce.  There is also a Court fee of £593.00.

Advice regarding child arrangements and financial settlements depend upon the complexity of the case.

We offer an initial consultation at a cost of £150.00 plus VAT for the first hour.  Any time spent thereafter is charged on an hourly rate basis which is dependent upon the experience of the lawyer. During the initial consultation, we would be able to provide you with an estimate of your likely costs for any further work that you request us to carry out on your behalf.

Why use Hay & Kilner?

At Hay & Kilner, we have a wealth of experience in dealing with divorce, child arrangements, financial settlements (for married and unmarried couples) and Pre-Nuptial Agreements.

We pride ourselves on delivering excellent client care, whilst offering value for money, in what we know can be a painful process for everyone involved.

For further information please contact Nicola Matthews on 0191 2328345 or nicola.matthews@hay-kilner.co.uk.