Our knowledge and experience of divorce law allows us to provide a world class service to all of our clients, regardless of the degree of complexity. We will provide you with expert guidance to enable you to make the most informed decision. Our Family Law Solicitors in London will tailor their service to your situation, help establish your goals, implement plans and guide you throughout the entire process.
- The Process
- Mediation in divorce
- Collaborative family law
- High-net-worth divorce
- Non-confrontational dispute resolution
- International divorce
What will happen?
A divorce means that a marriage has legally ended. However, should both partners reconcile in the future, they can choose to re-marry if they wish to do so. When a couple get divorced, they will need to make arrangements for the division of their finances and assets, including their home. When there are children involved, they must also decide where they will live and with whom, as well as agree to contact arrangements and provide for ongoing financial support.
A divorce is a legal process that is made up of a number of different stages:
- Divorce proceedings begin when one or both partners submit an application or divorce petition to the Family Court. Our divorce Solicitors will be able to do this on your behalf and provide advice and guidance on the content of your application.
- The other partner, or respondent, is notified of the application and will be given eight days in which to respond. If they decide to agree to the divorce, including their spouse’s reasons for making the application, then the divorce can proceed. If the partner does not agree and intends to defend the divorce, this must be made clear with the eight-day timeframe, after there are 21 days to respond with the reasoning behind this decision.
- It may be necessary to attend a court hearing if a divorce is defended either because a spouse does not want to divorce or because they are refusing to accept the contents of the petition.
- The petitioning partner can apply to the court for a decree nisi, which can be granted if there are no legal obstacles to the divorce. In undefended divorces this can be a fairly simple process, however, the application can still be made even if the respondent is defending the divorce. In these circumstances, it may be necessary to go to court in order for a judge to decide if the decree nisi can be issued.
- The granting of the decree absolute will mean that the marriage has legally ended.
How long does a divorce take?
It usually takes between 8 to 10 months for a divorce to be finalised; although the exact time scale will depend on your individual circumstances. Generally speaking, an undefended divorce will be quicker and less costly for both sides than a divorce that is contested. Matters will usually be resolved faster if the lines of communication remain open with your former partner and you are able to use non-confrontational dispute resolution to reach agreements, rather than having to go to court.
Grounds for divorce
There is a requirement in English law that in order to obtain a divorce, a couple must have been married for a period of at least one year. The government’s new No-Fault divorce reforms mean that you do not have to provide a reason for the divorce.
The Divorce Settlement
The final divorce settlement is an entirely separate process to the granting of a decree absolute. It determines what will happen to your home, your finances and most importantly, your children. It will include details of where they will live and with whom, as well as how they will be supported financially.
At Stirling Ackroyd Legal, we believe in encouraging non-confrontational dispute resolution wherever possible, in order to keep conflict to a minimum and provide you with the fastest and most cost-effective solutions to enable you to move on after your divorce.
Mediation in Divorce
Mediation in divorce is a process that is designed to help couples and families when relationships have broken down. It helps them to communicate effectively in order to reach agreement on important decisions and is ideal for couples going through a fairly amicable split, and for those wishing to remain a family unit for the benefit of their children. Couples are usually required to consider using mediation before going to court, however there are exceptions for situations where this would be impractical, such as in cases of domestic abuse.
Stirling Ackroyd Legal operate a network of experienced family mediators, contact us to find out more.
The next step will involve meeting together with your mediator. The length of the sessions and how many you will need depends on your individual situation, however, it is advisable to allow around two hours for an appointment. Your mediator will guide both of you through this process.
When an agreement is reached, the family mediator is responsible for recording this, as well as the financial details that you have both disclosed. As long as you are both satisfied with this, it will be reflected in the final order of the court.
Impartial advice and cost effective
Mediation involves meeting together with a professional family mediator. The role of the family mediator is not to try to resolve the issues that have caused the relationship to break down, but to help the couple reach mutually-acceptable agreements. The family mediator is impartial to the proceedings and will help to keep discussions on track and resolve any disagreements. Mediation is usually much more cost-effective than going to court and enables both partners to have a say in the difficult decisions that need to be made.
Sometimes couples find that family mediation is not appropriate to their situation, and there are other options available if this is the case.
Collaborative Family Law
Collaborative family law can be particularly useful in complex cases, e.g. when there are a number of jointly-owned assets or properties. This is different from mediation where the mediator is obliged to remain neutral.
Our Solicitors are with you
In collaborative family law, both you and your qualified collaborative law solicitor will attend a series of meetings with your ex-partner, whose lawyer will also be present. By using collaborative family law to try and reach a settlement, you will each have the benefit and reassurance of having your solicitor with you in order to represent your interests and offer legal advice on each of the options.
Before the meetings can take place, all information and relevant documents must be disclosed. A participation agreement is signed, in which you both agree not to begin court proceedings. It is at this point that the discussions can begin, and your specialist family law solicitor will be able to guide you through the process. Any agreements reached will be reflected in the final order of the court.
What happens if this is unsuccessful?
It is important to consider this very carefully because if you attempt to reach resolution through collaborative law and are unsuccessful, neither of you will be able to use the same Solicitors in subsequent court proceedings. When you do come to court, binding decisions regarding your assets, finances and most importantly the future of your children will be made by the judge.
High Net Worth Divorce
Our team of expert divorce lawyers have over 300 years of combined experience on divorce proceedings handling high profile cases from celebrities to members of parliament and heads of blue-chip companies.
We will work with you to achieve the best outcome as quickly as possible, helping you to fully understand your rights and responsibilities regarding wealth, multiple assets and inheritance, both in the present and for the future. If you know or suspect that your former partner has failed to disclose some of their assets, we can advise you on the options available.
The divorce settlement is a critical area of the negotiation process, and for high net worth individuals, this can be the most complex aspect to deal with when a marriage comes to an end. There may be a number of factors to take into account, for example, property, business interests, pensions, shares, offshore assets, inheritance and long-term provision for your children. Your expert divorce Solicitor will provide clear advice and guidance in order to achieve a fair and realistic outcome.
The arrangements for the children are often at the heart of a divorce, and for high net worth clients there may be additional issues to consider, such as where they will be educated and how the ongoing school fees will be paid.
There may also be the question of relocation with the resident parent or of the children being taken on overseas trips, both of which will usually require the consent of both parents and may, therefore, need to form part of the negotiations. We will advise and guide you through such arrangements, helping you to look after your children’s interests as well as your own.
Non-Confrontational Dispute Resolution
Your specialist family solicitor will be able to advise you on non-confrontational dispute resolution, which is designed to help to divorce couples work together to negotiate mutually-acceptable agreements on the contentious aspects of their divorce. This can enable you to avoid a court hearing and is usually cost-effective as well as time-saving compared to having these matters decided in court. Once you have reached an agreement, your divorce solicitor can apply to the court for a Consent Order, which will render your decision legally binding.
How we can help?
Non-confrontational dispute resolution is used to help couples to reach agreement on key issues such as:
- Arrangements for the children, including where they will live, contact arrangements and maintenance payments
- Financial affairs, such as what happens to the family home, jointly-owned assets, savings and pension plans, as well as how any debts will be settled
There are two kinds of non-confrontational dispute resolution for divorce, mediation and collaborative law.
Our expert international divorce lawyers have diverse experience in this area and will be able to guide and support you through the entire process. An international divorce is a situation in which you or your spouse has a connection to another country, for example when one partner is a non-UK national. An international divorce will often be more complex, so it is essential to get legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
Where to apply for a divorce?
Each country has its own jurisdiction, and therefore the country in which you or your former partner apply for a divorce is very important because the divorce laws of that country will be applied in your case.
It may be possible to apply for a divorce under English law if you are able to meet one or more of the following criteria:
- You and your spouse are habitually resident in England or in Wales, or you can show that this was the case until one of you moved overseas whilst the other remained
- The respondent to your divorce petition is habitually resident in England or in Wales
- The petitioner in the divorce proceedings has been habitually resident in the UK for six months or more
- Both partners are domiciled in England or in Wales
- There is no EU contracting state with jurisdiction over your divorce
Children and international divorce
Child residence in an international divorce can be a complex area because joint custody arrangements will not be practical if one parent is living overseas. Our international family lawyers will always put the needs of your children first when we advise you on the various aspects of your divorce and will work with you towards a resolution to minimise the distress for everyone involved
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