Our Guide to Divorce & Separation

 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!

Getting Legal Advice

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.

Our Service

At Donnelly & Elliott 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.


We have a range of packages to suit your circumstances.


Our office hours are Monday to

Friday 9am to 5.15pm

Out of office hours meetings and home visits are available on request.

We have ground floor meeting rooms and disabled access to our office

Please call 02392 505 500 to arrange your consultation