Our family lawyers in specialise in all types of family law issues including divorce, high value financial settlements and a range of children’s issues.
We know that divorce often involves high emotions, especially when there are children involved. Our team are sensitive to your needs during this difficult time, and work with you to resolve your divorce with compassion and efficiency. We encourage communication rather than confrontation, for the best to deal with the needs of the whole family, particularly the children. We recognise that some cases require urgent court action to defend and protect the interests of our clients.
As to the legal term, the only ground for a divorce is on the basis of ‘irreconcilable breakdown of marriage’. This can be based on either adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion for more than 2 years, 2 years separation with the other party’s consent, or 5 years separation.
The procedure for a divorce usually the divorce process takes between 4 to 6 months.
If you need expert legal advice about divorce or you have a question about getting a divorce in the UK or abroad, just contact us and we will be happy to help. Our fees are competitive, and in cases where the divorce is agreed by both parties we can fix our fee.
Application for Financial Remedy
Financial settlement between the parties can be prepared by way of a consent order, if both parties agree. This is by way of an application to a Family Court, containing a signed proposed consent order. The application form will contain the financial information from both parties. Orders cannot be made until the Decree Nisi has been pronounced and cannot come into force until after the Decree Absolute has been made (apart from child maintenance).
If the matter cannot be agreed by the parties, way of a consent 0rder, an application can be made to the court as to how the marital assets should be divided, as the court has unlimited discretion to determine this. While court proceedings are ongoing, negotiations can still continue, in order to try to resolve the matter. The court will timetable your case, which will mean that the matter will move forward. At any stage either party can propose a settlement. If offers are made “without prejudice” the offer will not be put before the Court at the final hearing so allowing a party to offer a compromise without worrying about weakening their position. Some offers are made as open offers but terms have to be carefully considered as they can be accepted at any time and will be seen by
In some circumstances this is not possible and the case progresses to a final hearing where a Judge will make an Order.
The following are common reasons for making an application for Financial remedy:
- The other party refuses to provide full and frank disclosure on a voluntary basis.
- Negotiation have broken down, or there does not appear to be a reasonable prospect of settlement.
- The financial circumstances of the parties are complex. In complex divorces where extensive disclosure and expert evidence is required, the parties may in fact benefit from the financial remedy timetable to ensure that prompt progress is made. Complex cases can sometimes be difficult to manage in the context of voluntary disclosure.
- It is necessary to make an application for maintenance pending suit or for an injunction underMCA 1973, s.37.
In divorce proceedings, each party can apply to the Court for Financial Remedy and the following
- Periodical Payment Orders including maintenance pending suit. The Court can order one spouse to pay the other spouse payment out of their income
- A Property Adjustment Order (for example to transfer property from the joint names into one party’s sole name)
- A Lump Sum Order (payment of a lump sun or lump sums by one party to the other)
- Pension Share and Attachment Orders – These are Orders made by the Court to provide a pension fund to transfer part of the fund to the other spouse or pay part of the pension income to the other spouse
- Orders for Sale (for example of the family home)
Child Maintenance orders are usually dealt with by agreement or by applying to the Child Support Agency.
When an application is made to the Court, the Court will timetable the case as follows:
- Proceedings are commenced by filing a Notice with the Court called “Form A”. A fee is payable – £255.
- The Court issues a Notice of Application and lists a First Appointment which is the first hearing at Court and will usually be made within 12 to 14 weeks from the date of issuing the application.
- 35 days before the First Appointment, both parties will be required to complete a financial statement known as Form E and file this at Court with full supporting documentary. evidence. A copy of this document must also be sent to your spouse/spouse’s solicitors.
- 14 days prior to the First Appointment, both parties will be required to set out what they believe to be the main issues in the case in a document known as a Statement of Issues, and provide a Questionnaire setting out whether there is any further information or documents that are required.
- Finally, each party must prepare a Chronology detailing the significant events in the parties’ relationship.
If the parties have all the information they require, they can apply to the Court for the First
Appointment to be treated as a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing.
If the parties do not have all the requisite information, the District Judge will then make a number of directions to prepare the case ready for the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing and set a date for that hearing.
The First Appointment
Before the First Appointment (and indeed all Court appointments) both parties must produce a costs estimate setting out details of costs incurred and paid to date. At the First Appointment the District Judge will give directions about further disclosure and any other information needed e.g. valuation reports, accountancy evidence, pension valuations etc and determine the extent to which questions raised should be answered if there is any doubt or dispute. Both parties must usually attend in person as well as their lawyers.
The Financial Dispute Resolution hearing
The Financial Dispute Resolution hearing, known as the FDR, is an opportunity for the parties, to try and reach an agreement with the assistance of the District Judge, who will not have anything else to do with the case. The FDR is an entirely without prejudice hearing and if settlement is reached the terms will be embodied into an Order of the Court. If not the District Judge will give further directions for the preparation of the case to trial. Both parties are required to file at Court at least 1 week before the FDR details of all offers, proposals and responses and produce a second costs estimate/schedule for the FDR.
The Final Hearing
A District Judge who has had no previous involvement with the case or seen any offers to settle. Both parties must attend and give oral evidence if required. It is always open to the parties to agree settlement right up until the Final Hearing commences.
The Court will consider all the circumstances of the case including a checklist of factors set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 Section 25 which are as follows:-
- The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including, in the case of earning capacity, any increase in that capacity which it would be, in the opinion of the Court, reasonable to expect a person to take steps to acquire
- The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage
- The ages of each spouse and the duration of the marriage
- Any physical or mental disability of each spouse
- The contributions which each spouse has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future to the wealth of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family
- The conduct of each spouse if that conduct is such that it would, in the opinion of the Court, be inequitable to disregard
- The value to each spouse of any benefit which one spouse, because of the divorce, will lose the chance of acquiring i.e. pension provision
The Court will also consider whether there has been any pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement entered into by the parties.
The District Judge has a very wide discretion as to the Order he/she can make.
COSTS The general rule on costs is that under the new rules the Court will not make an order for costs unless it is appropriate to do so because of the conduct of one of the parties.