Studies have shown that as many as 1 in 5 couples plan to divorce in the earlier months of the year. For many couples, the cause of the relationship breakdown is down to stress and tension in the relationship that often arises as a result of financial problems that manifest after the holiday period.

Little wonder then that family lawyers see a huge spike in the number of people asking for legal advice about divorce in January and February.

Fiona Yellowlees, Partner in the Family Law Department at WBW Solicitors in Launceston and Sidmouth, explains the grounds for divorce under current law and offers practical advice on ways for separating spouses to minimise the costs of getting divorced.

Although there are indications from central government about the introduction of a ‘no-fault’ divorce, until this becomes law a couple can only currently get divorced if they can show their marriage has irretrievably broken down.

This requires one of you to file a petition providing details of one of the five grounds for divorce (reasons why you cannot be expected to continue with the marriage):

  • adultery;
  • unreasonable behaviour;
  • desertion for more than two years;
  • separation for two years and you both agree to a divorce; or
  • separation for five years.

As well as being required to show that your relationship has permanently broken down, you can only get divorced under UK law if you have been married for more than a year, your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage) and that the UK is your permanent home, or that of your spouse.

How a solicitor can help on divorce

If you are considering a divorce, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. A specialist family lawyer can talk you through your options, including (until the new law is introduced), which ground you should rely on. They will also ensure all the required paperwork is in order.

An impending divorce brings with it a plethora of issues that need resolving between a separating couple such as how their property should divided, whether there should be some of financial settlement and what arrangements should be made for any children.

Heading straight to court to resolve these issues can prove costly and time-consuming. An experienced divorce lawyer can help by negotiating with your former partner or their legal representatives so you do not have to.

Alternatively, it may be worth trying alternative methods of dispute resolution such as mediation or collaborative law to help you come to an agreement with your former partner out of the realm of the courts.

Mediation involves an independent mediator (who does not take sides) sitting down with the couple to help them reach an amicable agreement on issues such as future financial, childcare or property arrangements.

Collaborative law involves each partner having their own collaborative lawyer at their side to offer legal advice and help to resolve any issues during a series of face to face meetings.

For further information, please contact Fiona Yellowlees in the family law team on 01626 202415 or email fionayellowlees@wbw.co.uk. WBW Solicitors has nine offices across the South West in Newton Abbot, Bovey Tracey, Torquay, Paignton, Exeter, Launceston, Exmouth, Sidmouth and Honiton.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.