Often dubbed as “Divorce Day”, the first Monday in January is the day of the year when people make the most enquiries about divorce or separation.  People see the New Year as a fresh start.  The breakdown of a relationship or marriage, can be one of the most stressful times in anyone’s life particularly when it comes to the division of the family assets or the care of young children.  Getting the right advice is essential.

Lisa Ellis, solicitor and head of the family law department at Donnelly & Elliott Solicitors answers your questions.

What are the grounds for divorce?

You cannot apply for a divorce until you have been married for at least one year.  The person who initiates the divorce (called the “Petitioner”) must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by establishing one of the following facts:-

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years’ separation with consent
  • Five years’ separation (no consent required)

How long will it take?

A straight forward divorce will normally take between four and six months.  It is often the case, however, that the divorce cannot be finalised by the Court until financial matters have been resolved.  It is therefore important to seek legal advice as early as possible.

What if we separate without getting divorced?

The impact of not issuing any divorce proceedings and/or not reaching an agreement in relation to financial matters can be felt later on.  For example if one party, having formed a new relationship, decides they want to re-marry or when one party dies without a Will.  You may find that your former spouse now wants a share of the property you have been paying off since you separated or worse, your former spouse will inherit everything you own as you are still legally married.

If you have left the family home and purchase another property, there may be consequences for Stamp Duty Land Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax.  In either case it is important to get legal advice at the outset.  Both taxes are complex and getting it wrong could land you in hot water with the tax man!

What should I do next?

The issues involved in divorce can be complex and are very easy to miss.  It is important that you seek specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity. All of our meetings and the advice given are confidential.  Even if you are unsure about whether a divorce or separation is right for you, getting advice early can make you aware of your options.   At the very least, such guidance should give you peace of mind, knowing the best way forward.

At Donnelly & Elliot every effort is made to support and guide you through this difficult time.  We can provide expert advice on a wide-range of family law matters, including arrangements for children and matters arising from the breakdown of a relationship, such as financial agreements.

About the Author

Lisa Ellis is a Solicitor and head of the Family Department at Donnelly & Elliott Limited, Solicitors in Gosport.  She has over twelve years’ experience in dealing with family law matters.  Lisa is a member of Resolution which means that she is trained and encouraged to deal with family law disputes in a non-confrontational and constructive way.

Date: December 2017

Donnelly & Elliott Limited Solicitors|38 Stoke Road Gosport Hampshire PO12 1JG |02392 505 500| www.gosport-solicitors.co.ukImportant Note: The above information is for general guidance and in part forms the opinion of the author. It is based on the law as at the date of this note. It should not be relied upon in part or in whole as a substitute for independent legal advice.  If any of the issues raised in this article effect you please contact a member of our team.