1. How long does it take?
A divorce on average takes about 6 to 9 months. It is the same process whether you divorce on the grounds of adultery, or on the grounds of 2 years separation to which your spouse consents. There is no such thing as a quickie divorce often referred to in the newspapers. There is also no such thing as an automatic divorce after a period of separation.
2. How much will it cost?
Currently the court fee is £550 to issue a divorce petition. Solicitor’s fees are usually in the region of £500 to £750 plus vat depending on whether you are the petitioner or the respondent. It is possible to ask that your spouse pays your costs if you are divorcing on the grounds of adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Or you can agree to share costs.
Usually when someone refers to their divorce being expensive, they mean the costs associated with the financial settlement.
3. I am divorced, so I don’t need a financial agreement?
A divorce simply ends a marriage it does not dismiss the financial claims which have arisen as a result of the marriage. These need to be separately dealt with by way of a financial order being made. This could be a clean break order, or a substantial order. If you do not obtain a financial order, then your former spouse could make a financial claim against you at a later date!
4. Do I have to go to court or speak in court?
A divorce is usually a paper based process and there is no need for you to attend court. If a financial order is also made by agreement, then no court hearing is usually required. You would only have to attend court if there was a dispute between you and your spouse about either the financial order or the arrangements for the children. You would only have to speak in court at a final hearing if you were required to give evidence.
5. Do the children have to go to court?
Children do not attend court. They are not involved in a divorce or associated financial proceedings. If there are proceedings related to the children, they may be spoken to by a CAFCASS officer, but would not attend court, or speak in court.
6. Will I have to see my spouse in court?
Both you and your spouse are normally present in court. However if you are both legally represented then you would not need to speak. If there are any particular safety issues, the court can be arranged so that although you may be in the same room as your spouse you cannot see them.
7. I am a common law spouse, what rights do I have?
Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as a common law spouse. You are either married or not. If you are not married then there are currently no laws in place in England and Wales which set out what you might be entitled to. It would depend on whether you could prove you had a legal interest in the house you lived in with your partner as to whether you could make a claim. You are not entitled to any of your partner’s assets such as their pensions or savings.
For more information, or some preliminary confidential advice contact a member of our Family Team from your local office.