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    1 April 2021

    Understanding the Divorce process

    Starting Divorce proceedings can often be a daunting task.  In our latest Family Law article, we review the divorce process and answer frequently asked questions.

    We work hard to assist families and couples to find solutions to their family problem, so our step-by-step guide to understanding the Divorce process breaks down the key stages to give you a quick and easy understanding.


    What are the 5 stages of the divorce process?

    1. The Petition

    This is the form submitted to the Court by one party (the Petitioner) to start the divorce or dissolution proceedings.

     2. The Response

    The other party should respond to the divorce petition.

    3. The Decree Nisi

    An application for the Decree Nisi is made to the Court. Note – The Decree Nisi does not end the marriage.

    4. Order from the Court

    Before the final stage of the divorce proceedings, it is important that any financial or children’s matters are settled.  The Court will set out the terms of any settlement in an Order which will be issued to both parties.

    5. The Decree Absolute

    An application for the Decree Absolute is made to the Court. This is the document that formally ends the marriage.


    Q. What are my options following my meeting with my solicitor?

    1. Mediation

    Mediation may help you and your partner settle any differences and reach an agreement together without the need to go to court.

    2. Settlement

    If you and your partner agree on how you will divide your property and finances, you can make this legally binding by preparing a Consent Order, setting out the terms of the agreement which the court can then approve.  A Solicitor can assist with preparing the order and making the application to the court.

    3. Court

    If you cannot reach an agreement and mediation is not suitable you will need to make an application to court to start financial or children’s proceedings.


    Q. How long will my divorce take?

    The length of the divorce process can depend upon several factors such as whether both parties consent to the divorce, the level of assets between the parties and whether financial matters have been agreed.  At your initial meeting, your lawyer will explain the stages of the divorce process and provide an indication of the length of proceedings.


    Q. What happens if my partner will not disclose all their financial assets?

    Both parties in divorce proceedings are required to fully disclose their assets to the other.  There are several options that can be considered if you believe your partner has not fully disclosed or is unwilling to fully disclose their assets.  Your solicitor can discuss these with you and determine the best way to proceed based on your individual circumstances.


    Q. What should I bring to my initial meeting?

    You will need to bring:

    • Photo ID – e.g., original passport or photocard driving licence.
    • Address ID – e.g., an original utility bill or bank statement showing your name and address.
    • Any documents you think may be relevant to your matter – e.g., your marriage certificate, Court Orders.
    • A note of key events and relevant dates – e.g., when you began cohabiting, the date of marriage, the date of births of any children, significant events in the relationship. It may be helpful to write out a short chronology of events.
    • An overview of your financial position – this does not have to be detailed as your solicitor will only need a rough overview at the initial meeting, but it ensures you get the most out of the meeting.
    • If helpful, a note of key issues and questions you would like to ask.

    You can also If bring a friend or family member to support you at the meeting if you feel it will help.


    Q. What should I expect at my initial meeting?

    The initial meeting is a chance for you and your solicitor to share information.  Your solicitor will ask you to explain your situation and what you would like to achieve.  We appreciate that the initial meeting can be difficult, however, it is important to provide your solicitor with as much information as you can.  The meeting is confidential, and your solicitor will do what they can to help you feel at ease. Your solicitor will then usually provide some initial advice on your possible options and outcomes.  This will include the procedures that are involved and likely timescales.  Your solicitor will discuss what the next steps are and how they can assist.  At the end of the meeting, you can decide how you would like to proceed.


    Q. What questions should I ask my solicitor?

    When considering what questions to ask your solicitor, you should consider what it is you want to achieve from the meeting or what you would like the outcome of the proceedings to be.  Some questions to consider are what factors may affect your situation, are there any time limits you should be aware of, what are your options following the meeting.

    You should also consider more practical questions such as what their fees are, how will you be invoiced, how will you contact the solicitor and how will they contact you.

    Although this is all information that your solicitor will usually discuss with you at your meeting, it may be helpful to note down your questions to remind you.


    Q. Should I move out of the family home? What if my partner will not move out of the family home?

    This decision requires careful consideration and will depend on your individual circumstances.  It is an important decision which we would recommend discussing with your solicitor in the first instance. Your solicitor will be able to discuss your options with you and what the likely outcomes and or risks would be if you chose to move out of the family home.  Similarly, if you remain in the family home and your partner will not move out, your solicitor will be able to discuss the possible options and how to proceed.

    Q. What are the current grounds for divorce?


    There is currently only one ground for divorce – the marriage must have broken down irretrievably.

    This must be supported by one of the given five facts which are:

    1. Adultery
    2. Behaviour
    3. 2 years separation with consent
    4. Desertion after 2 years
    5. 5 years separation without consent

    Your solicitor will discuss these with you, in more detail and advise which you should rely on.


    Q. How will we decide who the children will live with?

    If you cannot reach an agreement regarding who the children will live with (formally known as custody), mediation can be attended and if no solution is found, a court application will need to be made.  Your solicitor will be able to advise you on the possible outcomes based on your individual circumstances and the relevant factors that the Court will consider.

    How can the Steeles Law Family team help you?

    If you would like to speak to a member of the team to discuss any of the points raised in our ‘understanding the divorce process’ article, please call 01603 598000, email using family@steeleslaw.co.uk or using the live chat function via the website.

    *The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

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