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Advice for you

Divorce & Children

Our team of specialist family solicitors are experienced in advising clients faced with complex financial and emotional situations. We aim to provide sympathetic and tailored advice to help you on the road to a brighter future.

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Relationship breakdowns can be traumatic. Naturally, you will be concerned about your finances, property arrangements and how it will affect any children you have.

Taking this step is never easy, but we are here to offer you support and guidance throughout the process.

We are experienced in advising clients faced with complex financial and emotional situations. We aim to provide sympathetic and tailored advice to help you on the road to a brighter future.

We can help you with:

Free initial appointment

We are pleased to offer a free initial appointment for all new clients. We recognise the importance for clients of deciding whether they can work with a particular solicitor and to find out more about the process and likely outcome. Our family lawyers offer positive, down to earth advice, and we hope that this initial meeting allows you the time to see this as well.

Contact us if you would like a free initial appointment with a member of our Family Team at our Christchurch office, with no obligation or charge. Call on 01202 499255 or fill out the form on the right.

Download our factsheets on divorce & children

Family Law in Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, Ringwood and the New Forest

We have offices in Christchurch and Ringwood. Our Family Team also covers Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest, with the majority of our clients located in the Bournemouth and Poole area.

Thanks to our fantastic IT system, we can (and regularly do) help clients from across the country. Our team can advise and guide you through  over the phone, by email and video conference.

Ask us at Frettens

Here's some frequently asked questions on divorce, if you need to ask us anything more please get in touch using the form on the right.

How do I get a divorce?

You can get a divorce in England or Wales if you have been married at least a year and the relationship has permanently broken down. You must have a marriage that’s legally recognised in the UK - this includes same-sex marriage even if the ceremony took place abroad. When you apply for a divorce you will need to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Currently you will need to rely upon one of five facts to prove this which are adultery (in mixed sex marriage only), unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation for 2 years with consent and separation for 5 years. The procedure for getting a divorce in England and Wales follows a sequential set of steps with various documents completed and filed at Court.

Can I do a divorce myself online?

Yes you can, through the gov.uk website. This site is tailored to people carrying out the divorce themselves and will help you through the process.

Solicitors are now able to use the online portal when they are instructed in a divorce as well so the process is moving more to online applications, rather than paper applications.

There are advantages and disadvantages to DIY divorce. They can be a good option for certain couples, especially where a divorce is uncontested and uncomplicated, but won't be suitable in all circumstances.

If you are considering DIY divorce, please read the full article here for the advantages and disadvantages.

Who gets what in divorce?

For a marriage that is 15 years or more, the starting point for the Court is why should there not be an equal split of the assets.

For marriages of less than 15 years, the starting point is that each party should walk away with what they took into the marriage.

However, the factors set out below may slide this scale and alter those positions.

To find out more about entitlements in divorce, click here.

What happens if we can't agree on child arrangements in divorce?

In an ideal world, you and your partner will come to an agreement between yourselves.  However, when no agreement can be reached, the courts may have to become involved.

Before the involvement of the court, both parties must however attempt mediation (unless the matter is urgent). 

This is a process where an independent third party who is a professionally trained mediator, helps you and your former partner reach an agreement together regarding your children and other issues you may have, for example, finances. 

In the event where no agreement can be reached, one of the parties may decide to make an application to the court. 

Click on this link for our fact sheet on Children Court Proceedings.

How do the courts decide child arrangements?

With the involvement of the court, the court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the children.  This means that the court will look primarily at the children’s interests, ahead of what the parents might desire.

The court will consider the following factors:

  • The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the children;
  • Their physical, emotional and educational needs.
  • The likely effect on them of any change in circumstances.
  • Their age, sex, background and any characteristics which are relevant.
  • Any harm which they have suffered, or are at risk of suffering.
  • How capable are you, your former partner and any other relevant person of meeting their needs.
  • Any other powers open to the court.

Read more about child arrangements and court proceedings in divorce here.

What happens to your pension when you get divorced?

Any pensions that either party has, whether in joint or sole names, will be considered as part of the shared matrimonial assets. Even if a chunk of that pension was acquired pre-marriage, this does not stop it from being considered a matrimonial asset, especially if including that pre-marriage portion of pension will mean a fairer outcome.

Whilst a party could argue that a particular amount of a pension should be ‘ring-fenced’, i.e. excluded because it was acquired pre-marriage, the Court will take into consideration the full value of the pension.

To find out about pensions and divorce for your specific circumstances, please refer to our comprehensive guide here.

How much is the court fee for divorce?

From 1st October 2021 the court fee for a divorce will be £592.

I want a clean break for finances

Whilst getting a divorce ends the contract of the marriage, it does not deal with the financial aspects of the separation. Unless you enter into a formal agreement known as a consent order and get a clean break order, your ex-spouse could make a claim for a share of your assets, property, inheritance, income or pensions in the future even many years after the divorce.

Can I change the locks?

This is a very common question and the short answer is no. As a married couple living in the matrimonial home, you both have a legal right to be in the property and neither of you can exclude the other unless you have been to court and obtained a court order which permits you to do so. If you have separated from your spouse and agree that one of you will move out, until a long term solution has been reached, it is best to hold off changing the locks and agree when they can enter the home, to collect belongings for example. If your spouse changes the locks without your agreement, you are entitled to arrange for your own lock smith to change the locks again or obtain a court order to provide you with a copy of the key.

What is a no fault divorce?

Current laws require one spouse to rely on adultery or behaviour of the other for divorce proceedings to start immediately.

A no fault divorce will allow couples to state that their marriage has broken down irretrievably, without apportioning blame.

It is hoped that the new laws will help reduce conflict between separating couples, which can be damaging to children involved.

    Contact us if you would like a free initial appointment with a member of our Family Team at our Christchurch office, with no obligation or charge. Call on 01202 499255 or fill out the form on the right.

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