DivorceUnfortunately sometimes marriages break down and end in divorce.

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Divorce

Family Law - Help With Divorce

Legal Aid is no longer available to assist parties to obtain a divorce and many people are left to deal with this on their own. Sadly, therefore not only do you have to deal with the effects of the breakdown of your marriage which is very stressful in itself, you also have to manage the legal process when applying for a divorce.


You can get a divorce in England or Wales if you've been married at least a year and your relationship has permanently broken down.


You must have a marriage that's legally recognised in the UK - this includes same-sex marriage. You must usually also have a permanent home in England or Wales.


If your permanent home isn't in England or Wales, you will need to check if the Court has jurisdiction to deal with your divorce.


You must have a valid ground for a divorce and show there is a good reason for ending your marriage. When you apply for a divorce you'll need to prove that your marriage has broken down and give one of the following 5 reasons.


You can give 5 grounds for a divorce.


  • 1. Adultery
    If your husband or wife has sex with someone else of the opposite sex, and you find this situation intolerable you can apply for a divorce. The law recognises the act of adultery as sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.

    Please note that you can not give adultery as a reason if you lived with your husband or wife for 6 months after you found out about that they have committed the act of adultery.

  • 2. Unreasonable Behaviour
    Your husband or wife must have behaved so badly that you can no longer bear to live with them. Behaviour that will be considered unreasonable by a Judge is as follows:
    • Physical violence
    • Verbal abuse, eg insults or threats
    • Drunkenness or drug-taking
    • Refusing to pay for housekeeping
  • 3. Desertion
    If your husband or wife has left you:
    • Without your agreement
    • Without a good reason
    • With the intention of ending your relationship
    • For more than 2 years in the past 2.5 years

    Please note you can still claim desertion if you have lived together for up to a total of 6 months in this 2.5 year period.

  • 4. Separated
    You can get a divorce if you have lived apart for more than 2 years and both agree to the divorce. You must both agree to the divorce in writing.
  • 5. Separated more than 5 years
    If you have lived apart for more than 5 years it is usually possible to get a divorce, even if your husband or wife doesn't agree with the divorce.

If you wish to proceed to obtain a divorce then you will need to take the following steps:

Filing for a Divorce - Filling in the Divorce Petition

You will need to file for divorce and you do this by filling in a Divorce Petition. You can find this form here. Affordable Law for You can help you to either fill in the Petition or check your Petition prior to your filing your Petition at Court. If your Petition is incorrectly filled in it will be returned by the Court.

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The basics you must include are your:

• Full name and address

• Husband or wife's full name and address

• Marriage certificate - the original certificate or a copy obtained from a register office

• You can include the names and dates of birth of any children (no matter how old they are), but you don't have to.

• If your husband or wife name the person you were unfaithful with, that person will also get copies of the divorce petition.

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You will need to send the papers in triplicate (quadruplet if you are naming the person who has committed adultery with your spouse) with a £550 fee to start a divorce to your nearest divorce centre. Affordable Law For You can help you filling in the forms. All you need to do is telephone us on 07940384785 or email us.

Click here, "Civil and Family Court Fees", for more information about payment of court fees.

If you are on a low income or on benefits you may be able to get assistance with the payment of Court fees.

Please go to Apply for help with fees for further information.

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Send your Petition to your local Family Court

Once you have filled in the forms:

• You will need to send 2 copies of the divorce petition form to the court (3 if you have named the person your husband or wife had an affair with)

• Make sure that you keep a spare copy for yourself.

When sending the Divorce Petition to the Court remember to send a covering letter providing details of your phone number and requesting they phone you to take the fee over the phone. DO NOT SEND THE COURT DETAILS OF YOUR BANK ACCOUNT ETC

The divorce centre will call you to take your payment. You can also send a cheque to the Court by post when you forward the Petition to the Court.

If you receive a Divorce Petition you will also be served with a Notice of Proceedings form and an Acknowledgment of Service form. Retain the notice of proceedings form as it has details of the case number on it that you will required for further reference. You will need complete and return the Acknowledgment of Service form.

Remember to keep your own copy of the forms.

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Responding to Divorce Petition


If your husband or wife has started divorce proceedings against you, the divorce centre will send you a 'divorce petition'.

You will also get:

• A notice of proceedings form
• An acknowledgment of service form

Keep the notice of proceedings form, which tells you the case number and what you should do next and you will need to respond by filling in the acknowledgment of service form.

In most cases, if you don't respond within 21 days, your husband or wife can continue with the divorce as if you have agreed to it.


Agree with the divorce

If you agree with your husband or wife's Divorce Petition, fill in and return the acknowledgment of service form to the divorce centre within 8 days, and the divorce will go ahead.

Disagree with the divorce

If you disagree with the divorce petition fill in the acknowledgment of service form and return it within 8 days. Make sure you complete the part that says you are defending the divorce. The divorce centre will then send copies of your acknowledgement to your husband or wife. After you return the form, you have up to 21 days to complete the Answer where you can set out the reasons why you are defending the divorce.


To access an Answer form go to: "Answer to a divorce petition"

Unless you are eligible for a remission of fees if you are on a low income or unemployed you may have to pay a £245 court fee.

Court Hearing

When a divorce is defended or both sides file divorce petitions, a court will usually hold a hearing to discuss the case. You and your husband or wife will usually, have to attend to try to come to an agreement over the divorce. We can assist you by attending at Court with you as a Mackenzie Friend. For further information please go to Affordable Law For You MacKenzie Friend

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES FINALISE YOUR DIVORCE WITHOUT SORTING OUT FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR YOU AND THE CHILDREN

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If it is a straight forward divorce and there are no children involved and matters such as the division of property is agreed amicably between your husband/wife and yourself or your husband/wife does not respond with an acknowledgement within 21 days you can Apply for a decree nisi.

APPLYING FOR A DECREE NISI

A decree nisi is a document that says that the court doesn't see any reason why you can't divorce.

If your husband or wife doesn't agree to the divorce, you can still apply for a decree nisi. However, you'll have to go to a court hearing to discuss the case, and a judge will then decide whether to grant you a decree nisi.

Fill in application form

For further details of how to get a decree nisi please go to:
I want to get a divorce

You can then fill in the application form for a decree nisi, a copy of which you can find at:
Application for a decree nisi

If your husband or wife decide they are going to defend the claim you will need to complete section B of the form confirming that you want a case management hear and you will need to submit the form in triplicate to the Court with a fee made payable to HMCTS in the sum of £50.00.

You will also need to complete a statement confirming what you said in your divorce petition was true.
There are 5 statement forms and you will need to use the one that corresponds with the initial ground you gave when applying for your divorce e.g.


DON'T FORGET TO attach a copy of your husband or wife's response to the divorce petition, when submitting your application for the decree nisi.

Getting a decree nisi

If the judge agrees that you have provided sufficient reason for the decree nisi to be granted, the court will send you and your husband or wife a certificate. This will tell you the time and date you'll be granted a decree nisi.

After the decree nisi has been granted, you will have to wait 6 weeks before you can apply for a 'decree absolute' to end the marriage.

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What to do if your application is rejected

You may be sent a 'notice of refusal of judge's certificate' form, saying why you can't divorce. The form will tell you what next steps you have to take i.e. it may be something as simple as providing the Judge with some more information, or the Judge may require you to go to a court hearing.

The form will tell you what to do next. The judge may want more information in writing, or you may have to go to a court hearing.

IF FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND AND WIFE HAVE BEEN CONCLUDED (IN RESPECT OF BOTH YOURSELF OR YOUR CHILDREN) YOU CAN THEN PROCEED TO OBTAIN A DECREE ABSOLUTE WHICH IS THE LEGAL DOCUMENT THAT ENDS YOUR MARRIAGE.

You need to wait at least 6 weeks after the date of the decree nisi before you can apply for a decree absolute. You must apply within 12 months of getting your decree nisi - otherwise you will have to explain the delay to the court. To apply for a decree absolute, fill in the Notice of Application for decree nisi to be made Absolute form which you will find here: Notice of application for decree nisi to be made absolute

If you commenced Court proceedings prior to 1st July 2013 your fee for your decree absolute will cost £45.

If your husband or wife started the divorce, but refuse to apply for a decree absolute, you can apply for the Decree Absolute. The Court will give you an extra 3 months on top of the standard 6 week delay, before you can do this. If you decide to apply you will need to fill in an application form which you can access at Application notice. There will be a fee of £255. Having submitted your application you will be sent a hearing date to attend the Court with your husband or wife and the Judge will check that:

  • Time limits have been met
  • There are no other reasons not to grant the divorce

If the Judge is satisfied he will confirm that the Decree Absolute can be granted and the Court will then send you and your husband and wife a copy of the Decree Absolute.

You will need to keep the Decree Absolute safe as you will need to present it if you remarry or have to prove your marital status.

IF FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND AND WIFE HAVE NOT BEEN CONCLUDED (IN RESPECT OF BOTH YOURSELF OR YOUR CHILDREN) DO NOT PROCEED TO OBTAIN A DECREE ABSOLUTE WHICH IS THE LEGAL DOCUMENT THAT ENDS YOUR MARRIAGE WITHOUT ENSURING THAT YOU HAVE CONCLUDED THE FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENT BEFORE YOU OBTAIN YOUR DECREE ABSOLUTE

If you have been unable to agree the financial arrangements that will follow after the Decree Absolute is granted then it will be necessary for both you and your husband or wife to send a Form E to the Court which you can find at Financial statement.

Further it will be necessary to submit a Statement in support of your claim for financial arrangements. Both the Form E and Statement in support are fundamental in setting out your case in a manner which supports your claim regarding the financial arrangements that need to be concluded prior to the Decree Absolute being granted.

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FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS

It is of course a great deal cheaper and far less stressful if you can come to a fair an amicable agreement in respect of finances if your marriage unfortunately ends in divorce so please remember the following:

You and your ex-wife or husband can choose how to work out money and property issues if you divorce or end a civil partnership.

You can usually avoid going to court hearings if you agree how to split your money and property. At Affordable Law for You we can help you to prepare and lodge a Consent Order at the Court which will be legally binding and in the event that either you or your ex husband or wife break that Order you will be able to revert back to the Courts to obtain their assistance in ensuring that the Order is complied with.

Making your agreement legally binding

We can help you draft a 'consent order' and ask a court to approve it - this makes it legally binding.

A consent order is a legal document that confirms your agreement. It explains how you're going to divide up assets like:

  • Money
  • Property
  • Savings
  • Investments

It can also include arrangements for maintenance payments, including child maintenance.

Deadlines for making a consent order

You can ask the court to approve your consent order if both of the following apply:

  • You have started the paperwork to divorce or end your civil partnership
  • You haven't yet applied for the final legal document to end the relationship The final legal document is the decree absolute if your are divorcing and a final order if you are ending a civil partnership

Asking the court for approval

You will both need to fill in a notice of an application for a financial order to obtain a copy of this form please go to "Notice of [intention to proceed with] an application for a financial order" and a statement of information form which you can locate at "Statement of information for a consent order in relation to a financial remedy"

You will need to send these forms with your draft consent order to the Court dealing with your divorce or civil partnership. Keep your own copies. There will be a Court fee and this is £50.00. Don't forget, your cheque should be made payable to HMCTS.

There isn't usually a court hearing. A judge will consider your application and if he thinks it is fair he will grant the order. You will received a sealed copy in the post. DO NOT LOSE THIS DOCUMENT

If a Judge does not think the consent order is fair he/she can:

  • Change your consent order
  • Make a new court order to tell you how to divide your money and property

Remember you can agree on child maintenance at this point or at a separate time.
IT REALLY IS MORE SENSIBLE TO TRY TO DEAL WITH ALL FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS AT ONE TIME

IF YOU CAN NOT AGREE REGARDING THE FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS

If you can't reach an agreement You can ask a court to make a 'financial order' but before doing this YOU MUST ATTEND A MEETING ABOUT MEDIATION (THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS TO THIS I.E. IF YOU HAVE BEEN THE VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN YOUR MARRIAGE).

To find a local mediator go to "Find your local mediator"

Remember there is a deadlines for applying for a financial order

You can ask the court to make a financial order if both of the following apply:

  • You have started the paperwork to divorce or end your civil partnership
  • You haven't yet applied for the final legal document to end the relationship

How to apply for a financial order

You will need to complete an application for a financial order which you can find at "Application for a financial order" to get things like:

  • A lump sum payment
  • Ownership of a property
  • Regular maintenance payments to help with children or living expenses
  • A share of your partner's pension payments

You will need to send 2 copies of the form to the Court dealing with your divorce or end your civil partnership with a Court fee of £255.00. Don't forget to keep a copy of the application for yourself.

You will both be sent a form E to complete and return to the Court. Form E is Financial Statement which you have to complete providing full details of your financial position. Form E can be found at "Application for a financial order"

This is a very important document and provides you with a full opportunity to set out not only your assets but your liabilities. We at Affordable Law for You can assist you in drafting a fuller response beyond what has been asked for so that the court and your spouse understand such things as the following e.g:

a. Why overtime has stopped or been curtailed
b. Why certain transfers have been made from or to your account
c. The possibility of redundancy or threats to losing your job
d. Detailed or expert evidence of why properties might need to reflect development opportunities or potential rental or why certain factors may depress the market price
e. The Pension CETV value may not be a true reflection of Value and we can put questions to your spouse's pension providers to clarify the true position

If you would like us to assist you in completing your Form E you will need to forward the following information to us at affordablelawforyou@gmail.com:

  1. 12 months bank statements
  2. Details of properties owned by you and your husband/wife
  3. Details of all assets to include shares, paintings cars
  4. Your pension details
  5. Details of property owned abroad
  6. Details of all liabilities you have i.e. amounts on credit card/debit card's owed, monies owed to any party etc

Once we receive the documentation from you, we will assess how long it will take us to read through all the documentation and discuss the same with you. We will then will forward an e-mail to you confirming the initial time and cost that will be involved in reviewing this documentation and holding a telephone conversation with you to discuss any issues. If you wish to proceed we will arrange a mutually convenient telephone appointment to be conducted after payment of our fee.

You will have to attend a number of court hearings before the financial arrangements of your divorce are settled and the time involved could be between 6 to 18 months before the matter is finalised.

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COSTS IN DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS

As a rule Costs are not payable to either party in divorce proceedings. However, if you can prove that your husband/wife has been deliberately obstructive, i.e. has knowingly not turned up for Court Hearings, you can claim costs against him/her under the Litigant in Persons Expenses Act 1975.

In civil cases, litigants in person can claim £19 per hour for time they spend working on their case (or their actual financial loss if this can be proved i.e. did you have to take a day off work, if so, what is your financial loss to get a letter from your boss confirming that you have had to take a day off work to attend Court and your loss of wages for the day). Litigants in person can also claim for expenses incurred, such as travel to court or photocopying and any advice or expert assistance they have paid for.

Pro Bono Costs can additionally be claimed for any advice given to litigants in person for free by legally qualified advisors. Please see more information on pro bono costs.

Litigants in person should make sure to record the type of work, time or expense spent on their case. Whenever litigants in person receive any free legal advice they should ask their adviser to record their time and what they did in order to claim a separate pro bono costs order where appropriate.

If a litigant in person's case goes to court and is successful, they should hand the record of the type of work, time or expense spent on their case to the judge. The judge may be able to order the other side to pay costs to the litigant in person and pro bono costs where free legal advice was given. The judge will not always order the other side to pay but there is a legal right to ask.

Guidelines

  • CPR 46.5 and 45.39(5) effectively provide that litigants in person can claim reasonable costs for work done or disbursements which would have been allowed had there been legal representation.
  • PD 46.3 provides the hourly rate of £19 for individuals (who cannot prove actual financial loss) for time spent on their cases (as at December 2015).
  • The maximum amount recoverable is two-thirds of the amount that would have been allowed if represented by a lawyer, not including disbursements.
  • Litigants in person can also claim for reasonable payments made for legal services relating to their case.

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How Affordable Law For You can assist you in divorce proceedings


Affordable Law For You can assist you with preparing these documents, and, ensure that you set out fully all the information required for a Judge to have the fullest possible overview of your financial needs.

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