Divorce & Separation
Northern Law Awards Finalist – Family Team of the Year
At Paul J Watson Solicitor, our Divorce Solicitors understand that a marital breakdown is a difficult and sensitive time. You can be sure that we provide all our clients with sympathetic and independent advice, guiding you through the divorce process.
Our Divorce Solicitors provide a free initial consultation for all our clients. We also offer a Fixed Price Scheme, dividing the divorce/civil partnership dissolution process into three Stages.
Why choose Paul J Watson Solicitor?
· Our experienced and dedicated team will fight your case, helping you to negotiate and mediate where possible;
· We have two fully qualified solicitors, who have in excess of 7 years’ experience each;
· Free initial telephone consultation with our solicitor to assess your case;
· We are very proactive in progressing cases as quickly as possible and undertake most of our correspondence by email, considerably speeding up the process;
· Legal Aid is still available in some cases and we undertake Legal Aid work;
· Competitive rates and fixed fees are available if you are ineligible for Legal Aid.
Our Divorce Solicitor’s fixed fee for Petitioner cases is £650 plus VAT, and the Respondent case is £325 plus VAT. There is also a divorce petition filing fee of £550 for the Petitioner, and we will advise whether you qualify financially for the Court’s exemption or reduced court fee. More complex cases are charged at an hourly rate of £175 plus VAT.
If you would like to contact our Divorce Solicitors please call on 01642 293427 Alternatively, complete the Contact Form, providing your contact details and a brief outline of your case, and we will contact you.
In the meantime, we have included some information about the divorce process, including some frequently asked questions.
Can I get a divorce?
In order to apply for a divorce, you must be legally married and must have been married for at least one year.
There is only one ground (or reason) for a divorce and this is that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
In order to prove this to the Judge so that a divorce can be granted, you must set out one of five facts to the satisfaction of the Judge, which are;
- Unreasonable behaviour; that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.
- Adultery; your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them. Adultery is defined as sexual intercourse between a married person and a person of the opposite sex who is not their spouse
- Two years’ separation – with your spouse’s consent to the divorce; you and your spouse have been separated for a continuous period of two years and you both agree to the divorce.
- Five years’ separation – without your spouse’s consent; you and your spouse have been separated for a continuous period of five years.
- Desertion; your spouse has deserted you for at least two years before you apply for your divorce.
What is the divorce process?
There are 3 main steps to ending a marriage:
- File a divorce petition – you have to apply to court for permission to end your marriage, and show reasons why you want to split up – see above.
- Once this stage has been completed you will, apply to the court for a conditional order – (previously called the decree nisi) if your spouse agrees to the petition, you’ll get a document saying there’s no reason you cannot proceed.
- Finally, once this stage has been completed you will apply for a final order (previously called a decree a – this legally ends your civil partnership – you need to wait 6 weeks after you get the conditional order before you can apply to finalise the process.
Once you have demonstrated that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, and you are able to demonstrate this with one of the relevant facts then you are ready to petition for divorce.
The petition is completed and filed with the court. You will require your original marriage certificate.
Once this has been filed with the court a form is then sent to the Respondent to complete. In most cases the Respondent will return the form however, if they do not then we can apply to the court to either have an order for substituted service, this means that a document can be sent to an alternative address for the Respondent or sent to a workplace or email. In some circumstances, we can apply to dispense with service so long as we can demonstrate to the court that all attempts have been made and the Respondent is ignoring the forms.
Once this step has been reached then you apply to the court for you conditional order. This is the stage when the court accepts your ground for divorce and the facts you have stated. It is also at this stage that the court will consider if any costs orders will be made against the Respondent. When you receive the documents for the conditional order it will state a date and time as to when the court will pronounce your order. You do not need to attend at court unless your spouse is defending the application or a costs application.
Six weeks and one day from the date of your conditional order, you can apply for the final order, previously known as the decree absolute. If you do not apply for your final order within three months from the conditional order then your spouse can apply for it.
The final order ends your marriage. It is only when the final order is granted that you are free to remarry, if you wish to do so.
How long will it take for the divorce to be finalised?
Usually, a divorce takes 4-8 months, from start to finish, assuming that the divorce is straightforward and is not defended by your spouse. As you may appreciate, the process varies vastly from case to case and can be affected by simple factors such as how quickly you or your spouse deals with paperwork. Finances and property issues often take much longer to resolve, particularly if the case has to go to Court.
What alternatives are there to a divorce?
There are alternatives to divorce, which you should consider before making a final decision.
You can find more information in our blog article;- http://www.pauljwatson.com/family-matters/is-a-divorce-my-only-option-by-our-middlesbrough-divorce-solicitor/
In particular, you could consider a Separation Agreement. This would involve setting out in writing, with the help of a Divorce Solicitor, issues such as;-
- Whether or not you and your spouse intend to divorce in the future.
- What arrangements you have made in relation to the children.
- What maintenance payments have been agreed.
- What will happen to the matrimonial home.
Please note that a Separation Agreement is not legally binding and can be set aside by the Court.
The information that we have given is intended to be a basic outline of the process involved. You should still seek legal advice regarding your specific case.