Heidi Cardoza, a Solicitor in our Family Team, answers some of the initial questions that people ask when they are considering a divorce or separation.
Q: How long do I have to be married before I can divorce?
A: You need to be married for at least one year in English law before you can apply for a divorce.
Q: How long will the process take?
A: If there are no complications, and nothing is contested or disputed between the couple, the process can be completed in between four to six months.
Q: What are the grounds for divorce?
A: The grounds are irretrievable breakdown of the marriage by one of the following:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Desertion for a period of at least two years
- Separation for a period of two years with both people consenting to the divorce
- Separation for a period of five years where one of the parties does not consent to the divorce.
Q: What if my partner doesn’t want a divorce?
A: If your partner contests the reason stated for the divorce (for example adultery or unreasonable behaviour) this can cause a delay in the process. Likewise, if your spouse will not acknowledge the paperwork sent by your solicitor, this will also delay matters. The divorce petition can be served by a bailiff and the court can also allow the divorce to proceed without consent.
Q: Does it matter whose fault it is?
A: This is only a consideration by the courts if there has been extreme behaviour, such as violence to the spouse or any children. It usually doesn’t make any difference to financial division of assets.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Court fees are currently £340 to file the divorce petition and then a further £45 to apply for the decree absolute. If you need a solicitor to mediate or negotiate the split of assets or the care of your children, you will also need to pay legal fees.
Q: Will I need the original marriage certificate?
A: You do need the marriage certificate. If you don’t have the original you can contact the relevant registry office or church office and they will issue a copy – usually they charge a fee of £7-10 for this service.
Q: We got married abroad and my marriage certificate is in a foreign language – does this make a difference?
A: This will need to be translated into English by a qualified translator. They will then make a sworn statement confirming it as a true translation. Both the original and the translation should be lodged with the court.
Q: Does it make a difference if either or both of us are foreign nationals?
A: No, providing that one or both of you are resident in England or Wales.
For a free initial consultation please call 01202 499255 and we will be happy to discuss any questions you may have.