This article was published on October 31st, 2016
The decision to leave your spouse is rarely an easy one. Whilst there are numerous reasons why relationships break down, the decision to dissolve a legally binding contract can be extremely upsetting emotionally and also financially damaging. When the decision is finally made and you are ready to take the first steps to initiate divorce proceedings then there are some important factors for you to consider:
As long as you have been legally married for at least 1 year, you can apply for a divorce, if not then you will have to wait until a year has passed. If the decision to divorce is mutual from both parties then this is called and ‘undefended divorce’. If there is one party who does not agree to the divorce then this is called a ‘defended divorce’.
What reasons can you give for divorce?
Will divorce be expensive?
Marriage is a legal contract and, like any contract, it often requires a solicitor to fill out and complete the necessary paperwork and process it through the courts to get it actioned. If you choose to process the paperwork yourself, without the aid of a solicitor, you will still incur court costs which are a levy fee of £550 in the UK.
Using a solicitor to assist you with your divorce will obviously incur costs for their time and professional advice however, it is prudent to use a legal professional for a divorce particularly if you have extensive assets which will need to be shared fairly. The legal fees will vary depending on the complexity of your individual case and how many assets will need to be divided.
Undefended divorces, which may have lasted a short time and involve little or no assets, may initially appear to be straightforward and parties may be tempted to divorce without the use of a solicitor. Be aware that by doing this you potentially could leave yourself open to risk of retrospective settlement claims if the contract is not comprehensibly agreed.
A recent case hit the news when a couple who had divorced 20 years earlier were back in the law courts. They had divorced 20 years ago when they had no money or assets but then 10 years after they divorced, the ex-husband made millions setting up a business in the green energy market. Because there was no financial agreement made at the time of the divorce, the ex-wife was entitled to make a claim and received £300k despite being divorced 20 years.
This may be an extreme case but it does demonstrate the importance of ensuring all the bases are covered and that everyone knows the binding terms of the contract annulment. By trying to save money doing it yourself, the process can end up costing significantly more money and create more emotional stress.
How long will it take?
It depends! There is no set time as it is often dependent on the nature of your divorce, ‘defended’ divorces can take longer or where you live and how busy the courts are in your area also effects the time it takes to process.
On average, after you file for a divorce through the courts, it can take up to 4-5 months to get a decree nisi which is when the district judge announces in open court intent to divorce. The decree absolute, which is the final legal annulment of the marriage, can be received 6 weeks or more after the decree nisi. Some divorce proceedings can take up to a year to finalise.
For an informal chat and to take the first steps into finding out about what divorce involves, please contact our family law team on FREEPHONE 0800 1979 345.
Thorneycroft specialist divorce solicitors offer expert help and advice on the legal and financial implications of a relationship breakdown. Each member of the team has the required skills to negotiate a financial settlement ensuring a positive outcome for you.
IF you live in Macclesfield, Buxton, Holmes Chapel or surrounding areas and require divorce law advice or to discuss your separation in more detail please call one of our specialist solicitors or complete our simple online enquiry form.