Frequently Asked Questions in Family Law: Marriage / Divorce

1. On what grounds can I petition for divorce?

There is one ground for divorce in the UK, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. In order to establish this, you may use one of the following five facts:

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years of separation with consent
  • Five years of separation without consent
  • Adultery
  • Desertion

2. How long does a divorce take?

The divorce process is generally a paperwork exercise and therefore a straightforward divorce may take up to four to six months.

There are factors which can delay the divorce process such as:

  • The other party not returning the Acknowledgment of Service form to the Court.
  • The parties wishing to resolve children or financial matters
  • Court delays

It is important to note that you cannot petition for divorce until for you have been married for more than one year.

3. Can I get my marriage annulled?

An annulment can end a marriage which should not have taken place.

To annul a marriage, you must demonstrate one of two things:

i. The marriage was never legally valid (void):

  • One or both of you were under the age of 16
  • One of you was already married or in a civil partnership
  • You are closely related

ii. The marriage was legally valid, but meets one of the reasons to make it voidable:

  • The other party is wilfully refusing to consummate the marriage
  • You did not consent to the marriage and it was entered into under duress
  • The other party had an STD when you got married
  • Your wife was pregnant with another person’s child when you got marriage
  • One party is in the process of transitioning to a different gender.

You will need to attend a court hearing if you make an application for your marriage to be annulled.

4. Do I have to attend court?

Generally, during the divorce process you will not have to attend court unless one of the following applies:

  • The divorce is contested
  • You are claiming your divorce costs and the other party disputes the same

It is almost always our advice that you do not finalise your divorce until you have resolved financial matters ancillary thereto. If you can resolve financial matters without the need for recourse from the court, then you will not need to attend court.

5. How much does this cost and can I claim these costs from the other party?

The court issue fee for a divorce is £550. If you instruct a solicitor to deal with your divorce for you then they will generally charge a fixed fee.

You may claim your divorce costs from the other party if you petition for divorce based on the other party’s unreasonable behaviour, adultery or desertion. To do so you simply confirm you wish to claim your costs within the divorce petition. If the other party does not agree to pay your divorce costs, then you may have to attend court to have the same assessed. Ultimately, it will be for a judge to decide whether an Order for costs is appropriate.

If you have any further questions and would like to arrange an appointment for an initial free of charge appointment, then please do not hesitate to contact a member of our expert Family team.

We have a broad range of expertise that can help you