Guiding you through this sensitive process at the speed you want to take
We can help:
- Answer your questions and put worries to rest about the divorce process and costs involved
- Offer a complete solution involving legal and practical expert help
- Discuss and advise you how to resolve issues, whether through a Court process or an alternative and assist you to deal with matters in a way that you believe is best for you and your family
WBW is a long established Law firm with a dedicated team of experienced practitioners, many whom are accredited specialists in handling divorce and separation cases.
All of our divorce and separation lawyers have many years’ experience and we make every effort to ensure that the same solicitor deals with your case from start to finish.
If you have specific worries about children involved in the separation, please visit our Child Arrangements page and request a call back from our child law team.
For a friendly, professional and efficient local service, where you get to meet your lawyer, contact us for a free initial consultation or use our quick call back request form and a member of our experienced team will call you back to discuss your case.
We can assist with:
- Future financial arrangements
- Division and/or transfer of pensions
I have heard that legal aid is still available if I have been a victim of domestic abuse?
Legal Aid is available to victims of domestic abuse in certain circumstances. There are certain criteria to be met for anyone to be eligible which includes producing evidence that within the last 2 years you have suffered from domestic abuse, this evidence could include police proceedings, medical evidence or an injunction made to protect you. You would also need to be financially eligible. WBW are able to offer legal aid and we suggest that you talk to a member of our team who will be able to advise you more fully on the eligibility criteria and about the next steps that could be taken.
Will I get legal aid if social services are involved?
Legal aid is still available in many cases where social services become involved with your children, either if they wish to place your children on the at risk register, or they want to make an application to the court for a care or supervision order. WBW are able to offer you legal aid if social services do become involved.
How do I decide which is the right level of service for me?
Which is the right option for you will depend upon a number of factors such as whether your husband or wife intends to contest the divorce,
- whether there are any complicating factors to your separation such as disputes over children or money,
- whether you know which reason you wish to rely upon to prove that your marriage has broken down,
- how easy you find it to fill in forms and deal with official documents yourself.
A free initial consultation with one of experienced family solicitors will help you decide which is the best option for you and explain details of likely costs, whether your concern is in relation to a divorce, children, finances or a combination of all three. During that meeting we will give you information about the process but there is unlikely to be enough time to give detailed advice. If you think you will need or it would help to have more detailed advice rather than just information, we can offer what we call a diagnostic meeting for a set fee which will also enable you to make such decisions with confidence.
Do you offer fixed costs for family legal services?
WBW offer a variety of service levels which are intended to meet the needs of our clients; these are based upon the type of case, its complexity and how much assistance a client may need or want. We recommend that any decision about the help a client needs takes place after a free initial consultation as a client can assess the best option for them. The service levels which we offer are
- Assisted – WBW will provide you with the relevant information and the assisted package also includes 30 minutes advice by telephone or email to assist you as the matter progresses.
- Supported – WBW will undertake certain aspects of the case for you for a fixed price and on the basis that the case meets certain criteria, for example in the case of divorce, if it is an uncontested matter and you know where the other party is.
- Represented – WBW will undertake all of the work no matter what comes up and will provide details of anticipated costs at the outset and then up-dates on a monthly basis.
- Where it is available, WBW also offer legal aid.
Will my spouse pay my costs?
The Petitioner can apply to the court for an order that the Respondent to the divorce pays the costs. This includes the court fees and the cost of preparation of the petition and the subsequent work that has to be done if a solicitor is instructed. However, the “normal” situation is that the parties agree to share the costs – often the court fees are shared on a 50/50 basis and there is an agreement that the Respondent will contribute towards the Petitioner’s costs of preparation. If an agreement cannot be reached then both parties may be required to attend court at the time when the Conditional Order is considered by the judge so that the judge can also consider who is to pay the costs of the proceedings. This in itself can add to costs so it is advisable to reach an agreement if possible.
What is the Process?
This is the very basic outline of the procedure:
- The petition and statement of arrangements (“SOA”) for any relevant children of the family are completed and signed by the Petitioner or a solicitor instructed by the Petitioner and with the original marriage certificate and Court fee are filed with the court. The court then issues the papers and gives the Petitioner a reference number.
- The Court then serves the Respondent by post with a copy of the petition and SOA together with an acknowledgement form. Please note that the Petitioner is not permitted to personally serve the Respondent with the papers. When received the Respondent should consider seeking legal advice.
- The Respondent should complete the acknowledgement form and return this to the court. The purpose of the form is to ensure that court is aware that the Respondent knows about the proceedings.
- The court will send the Petitioner a copy of the acknowledgment form and the Petitioner is then required to complete a sworn statement (affidavit) confirming that the contents of the petition are true and that the signature on the acknowledgement is that of their husband or wife (unless signed by a solicitor in their place). The Petitioner then files the sworn statement together with an application for a Conditional Order with the court.
- The Judge will then consider the paperwork that has been filed and if he/she is satisfied that the petition and other documents are in order will give a date for the pronouncement of the Conditional Order. The court notifies the Petitioner and Respondent and there is no need to attend court unless there is a dispute as to who is paying the costs of the petition.
- A Conditional Order is made by the court on the date given and confirmation is sent by post to the Petitioner and Respondent. The Petitioner can then apply for the Final Order six weeks and one day after the date of the Conditional Order. This is again a paper application and the Petitioner does not need to attend court. The judge will make the Final Order and again the documents will be sent out by post to the Petitioner and Respondent.
Do I have to go to Court?
You may go to the Court office to issue the petition and statement of arrangements for children (see answer C below) at the outset of the case and you may go to the court office to process documents during the case but you should not have to appear in court in front of a judge. An undefended divorce is a “paper exercise”. The court processes the divorce documents and sends out the paperwork to you. You may be required to attend court if there is an dispute about who is going to pay for the divorce or if the judge has a query about the petition and requests that you attend. This is an unusual situation and most people never go into a court room about their divorce although they may go to court about concerns and disagreements over the care of children or money but these are separate proceedings from the divorce itself. Please note that the procedure is private. The only people who will see the contents of the petition and other documents will be the solicitors (if involved), the court clerk and the judge.
How long will it take?
The average time to complete an undefended divorce is about 6 months. There will be cases which are very straightforward and are processed more quickly by the court. However, some cases can take longer than 6 months – common reasons for delay are difficulties with the arrangements for any children of the family, financial requirements which mean that the divorce cannot be completed until a financial settlement is reached or where the Respondent to the proceedings avoids dealing with the divorce papers which means that there is delay, and extra costs, in having that person served with the papers.
Under the current system there is a requirement that the Petitioner takes every step that can reasonably be taken to draw the Respondent’s attention to the fact that a petition for divorce has been filed. In addition to the above there are also inbuilt timings that have to be considered – for example the Respondent has 7 days to respond to the petition once it is received and there is a statutory period of 6 weeks and one day from the pronouncement of the Conditional Order (formerly Decree Nisi) before the Petitioner is able to apply for the Final Order (formerly Decree Absolute). If the Petitioner does not apply for the Final Order then the Respondent is not permitted to do so for a further three months from the date at which the Petitioner could have first applied. As can be seen from the above, if you have plans to remarry once divorced DO NOT fix the date until you have a clear idea as to when your divorce will be completed.