When dealing with a divorce, the thought of the costs involved can seem intimidating and be an extra source of worry at an already difficult time. By offering a fixed fee divorce package, we aim to take some of the uncertainty and stress out of the divorce process, giving you confidence that you know exactly what it will cost to legally end your marriage.
What is included in our fixed fee divorce package?
The package includes all the necessary steps to legally end your marriage, including:
- Instructing us as your solicitors
- Issuing the Divorce Petition
- Applying for the Decree Absolute
This package is for cases which are undefended by your husband / wife.
Please note: our fixed fee divorce package deals with the divorce itself only and does not deal with any other matters, i.e. finance and children. We will be happy to advise you on dealing with these matters and the costs involved separately.
Our Family Team will be happy to run through the cost of our fixed fee divorce package and answer your initial questions.
Book a free appointment to discuss your divorce
Frettens 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. We can discuss what is included in our fixed fee divorce package at this time, as well as the other issues such as making a financial settlement and arrangements for children that you may need to consider.
Find out more about what to expect at your free initial appointment.
Just want to ask us a quick question about your divorce? You can use our simple online enquiry form.
How divorce proceedings work
Issuing the divorce petition
If you wish to initiate divorce proceedings, you will need to complete a divorce petition and send this to your local family court. In the petition you will need to cite one of five accepted reasons for the breakdown of your marriage:
- Adultery – Where your spouse has been unfaithful with someone of the opposite sex (same-sex infidelity is currently classed as ‘unreasonable behaviour’ instead).
- Unreasonable behaviour – Where your spouse has behaved in a way where you can no longer reasonably be expected to live with them e.g. spending too little time at home, refusing to contribute financially, being verbally or physically abusive etc.
- Desertion – Where your spouse has left you for at least 2 out of the last 2.5 years without a good reason, without your consent and with the intention to end your relationship.
- Separation for at least 2 years – Where your spouse agrees to the divorce.
- Separation for at least 5 years – Whether your spouse agrees to the divorce or not.
Having our divorce solicitors assist you in preparing your divorce petition can help to ensure the reasons given for ending your marriage will be considered sufficient by a court and that no mistakes or missed details will result in your petition being rejected.
Responding to the divorce petition
After you apply for a divorce, your spouse will receive an acknowledgement of service form asking them to confirm whether they consent to the divorce or not. They must respond within 8 working days. If they do not consent to the divorce, they will have 28 days from the date they received the divorce application in order to state their reasons for this.
Receiving the decree nisi
If your spouse consents to the divorce or they dispute the divorce but a court rules in your favour, you can then apply for a decree nisi. This is a court order stating that the court sees no legal reason why your marriage should not be ended. You will need to fill in a form and submit this to the court to receive your decree nisi.
Applying for the decree absolute
Once the decree nisi is issued, you must wait 43 days (6 weeks plus 1 day) and then apply for the decree absolute. This is a court order stating that your marriage is legally ended. Once you receive the decree absolute, you are legally single and the divorce process is at an end.
Fixed Fee Divorce FAQs
Does it matter who starts the divorce process?
Whether you or your spouse files the divorce petition, it won’t affect the outcome of your divorce. So, if you have no choice but the start the proceedings yourself (for example, because your spouse objects to the divorce) or you have already been served with divorce papers, you have no need to worry.
Whether you want to file the petition first is a different question. There may be specific reasons why you would prefer to be the ‘applicant’ rather than the ‘respondent’. For example, if your spouse committed adultery and you want to rely on this fact in your petition.
How long do you need to be married before you can divorce?
You need to be married for at least one year before you can get divorced. If you do not want to wait a year, you may be able to get an annulment or a legal separation.
How long does it take to get a divorce?
For most straightforward divorces, the process takes around 4-6 months.
Do I have to give a reason to get a divorce?
Currently in England and Wales, you must rely on one or more of the five reasons, e.g. adultery or unreasonable behaviour, to be able to get a divorce. However, for many couples, the need to divorce isn’t caused by an explosive event or the poor conduct of one party. Over time, many couples simply drift apart and the decision to divorce is entirely amicable.
If both you and your spouse agree to the divorce, there is little chance that the court will find an issue with the reason you choose to rely on. Therefore, many couples rely on unreasonable behaviour or wait until they have been separated for two years.
However, under the terms of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill currently making its way through Parliament, ‘no fault’ divorce would be introduced in the UK. Should the Bill become law, couples will no longer need to give a reason for their divorce, making the process much simpler with less potential for conflict.
To find out more about these changes and what they mean for divorce, please read our helpful no fault divorce blog.
What counts as unreasonable behaviour for divorce?
Unreasonable behaviour is the most common reason for divorce and to use it, you need to provide written examples on the divorce petition. Your reasons can range from mild – e.g. long working hours, financial dependency, lack of emotional support – to the more serious – e.g. domestic abuse, alcoholism, gambling or excessive debt. You cannot rely on your own behaviour.
If your spouse agrees to the divorce, the court will not inspect the reasons too closely or require that you provide further evidence. However, it is essential that the reasons are honest. If your spouse objects to the petition, you may be required to go to court and a judge will decide whether the reasons are sufficient enough to allow the divorce (although this is rare).
What counts as adultery for divorce?
Adultery often means different things for different people. What counts as adultery for you may not count as adultery for someone else. But how does the law define it for the purposes of getting divorced?
To be able to rely on adultery for divorce, your spouse must have had sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex. Other forms of romantic engagement, such as kissing, do not amount to adultery. It is also not sufficient if your spouse has sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex.
The adulterous acts must also have taken place during the marriage. For example, if your spouse was unfaithful before you got married but you only found out about it after the wedding, it is not adultery.
If you think that your spouse’s actions fulfil the requirements above, you have six months to issue a divorce petition based on adultery. If you wait longer than six months, you will be seen as having ‘condoned’ it.
Because of the high hurdles associated with relying on adultery, many individuals instead choose to claim unreasonable behaviour instead.
Are we separated if we live in the same house?
Many couples choose to wait two years to get a divorce so that they can rely on the ‘separation with consent’ reason rather than relying on ‘unreasonable behaviour’ or ‘adultery’. However, not everyone has the option to live apart while they wait to become eligible. Are these couples prevented from getting a divorce due to separation with consent?
Not necessarily. A couple can be considered separated even if they live in the same property. However, you must lead entirely separate lives. For example, if you share meals, do chores for each other, share a bedroom, or take turns doing joint food shopping, the court is more likely to conclude that you are still living together as husband and wife.
One option may be to get a legal Separation Agreement to completely divide your finances and childcare responsibilities while you wait to get divorced. This will help you lead independent lives and make it clear that you intend to separate. If you would like advice about this, please get in touch and we will be happy to assist.
Will the reasons for divorce affect the outcome?
The divorce petition will not affect the outcome of your divorce other than in extreme circumstances:
For divorce financial settlements – ‘the conduct of either party’ may be a factor taken into consideration when deciding the fair division of assets. However, it will only affect the outcome if it absolutely cannot be ignored. For example, one party’s extreme spending has deprived the other of assets.
Where children are involved – you may be concerned that your spouse will use the divorce petition to prevent you from seeing your children. However, in the vast majority of cases, the family courts will consider it to be in the best interests of your children to have contact with both their parents. There are only a few exceptions to this, such as in cases of serious domestic violence.
Why Frettens’ fixed fee divorce lawyers are right for you
At Frettens Solicitors, we have many years of experience dealing with divorce and relationship breakdown for a wide range of clients. We provide a friendly service and expert legal advice, making the whole divorce process much simpler and less stressful for you.
Our Family Law team is headed up by Andrew Stynes, a highly experienced solicitor and qualified collaborative lawyer. Andrew is supported by a very able team, including Simon Immins, a family lawyer with over 30 years’ experience who is also a trained collaborative lawyer.
Our solicitors are all members of Resolution, a network of family lawyers and other professionals dedicated to promoting non-confrontational approaches to family law issues.
Book a free appointment with our fixed fee divorce lawyers in Christchurch and Ringwood
Just want to ask us a quick question about your divorce? You can use our simple online enquiry form.