Divorce: Your New Years Resolution

Often dubbed as “Divorce Day”, the first Monday in January is the day of the year when people make the most enquiries about divorce.  People see the new year as a fresh start.  Marital breakdown, 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.

Kelly Bruton, 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.

How much does it cost to get a divorce?

Excessive legal fees are often one of the greatest concerns before deciding to divorce.  Going through a divorce may not necessarily result in sky high legal fees. At Donnelly & Elliott we offer a fixed fee divorce package which includes us preparing and filing all of the necessary documents for an undefended divorce and guiding you through the proceedings.  If you initiate the divorce, we charge a fixed fee of £1,150.00 which includes VAT and the Divorce Petition Court fee (£550.00).  If you are a Respondent (a party against whom a petition is filed) on an undefended divorce, our total charge for our services, including VAT, will be £360.00.  Please note that the above fixed fees do not include dealing with any children issues or financial matters, but we are happy to provide you with quotes in relation to those areas upon request.

What is the impact on not 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 husband/wife now wants a share of the property you have been paying off for the last five years since you separated or worse, your former spouse will inherit everything you own as you are still legally married.

Stamp duty rates also have an impact on separation/divorce.  Married couples and civil partners who separate but do not get divorced will have to pay the higher rates of stamp duty (a surcharge of 3% above the current rates) when one of them buys a new home before the family home has been sold/transferred.  They are treated as one unit for the purposes of this tax so they will be treated as buying an additional property and the higher rates will apply.

What should I do next?

These issues are complex and are very easy to miss.  It is important that you access specialist legal advice.  Get it wrong and the consequences could be most severe when further down the line!

At Donnelly & Elliott 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 marriage, such as financial agreements.  We understand that often the biggest barrier to seeking advice or taking steps towards divorce proceedings is the impact a separation will have on children, and financial concerns following a marriage breakdown. We offer an initial free consultation of up to half an hour.

Kelly Bruton is a Solicitor and head of the Family Department at Donnelly & Elliott Limited, Solicitors in Gosport.  She has over eight years’ experience in dealing with family law matters.  Kelly 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.

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Date: December 2016

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.