Our specialist family team advises individuals on relationship breakdown and related children and financial issues.
Divorce happens when a marriage irreparably breaks down, and a couple permanently ends their relationship. Our specialist family law team based in Birmingham comprises divorce lawyers who advise individuals on relationship breakdown and related children and financial issues.
To be able to divorce your spouse, you must have a legally recognised marriage in the UK, be married for at least a year, and have a completely broken-down relationship. A legal separation might be applicable if you want to live apart without ending the marriage, and, in some cases, you might be able to annul the marriage.
Relationship breakdown is very stressful. It can affect our ability to get on with the day job and is an added pressure to our already hectic lives. As well as the present, it affects our future; we will need to make critical decisions about our personal and business lives, any childcare arrangements and any child maintenance payments. Having the right support is key to getting these decisions right.
When you apply for a divorce, you will need to prove the break-down of your marriage by providing one or more of the following reasons:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Separation for more than two years and you both agree to the divorce
- Separation for at least five years if your spouse disagrees with the divorce.
The divorce process
- To apply for the divorce, you will need the full name and address of your spouse, your marriage certificate and proof of your name change if you’ve changed it since you married.
- You will need to pay a £550 fee.
- If your application is correct, you will receive a notice that your application has been issued, a copy of your application with the stamp of the divorce centre, and a case number.
- Your spouse will receive a copy of your application and an ‘acknowledgement of service’ form, as will anyone named in the application, e.g. the other party in any adultery claim.
- Your spouse must respond to the acknowledgement of service if they intend to defend the divorce or object to paying any claimed costs within eight days.
- If your spouse doesn’t defend the divorce, you can apply for your decree nisi, which says that the court can’t see any reason why you cannot divorce. If they do intend to defend the case, you’ll have to attend a hearing for a judge to decide whether to grant the decree nisi.
- If you can’t divorce, you will receive a ‘notice of refusal of judge’s certificate’ form explaining what to do next.
- After this, you must wait at least six weeks and a day after the date of the decree nisi to apply for your decree absolute, which is the legal document that ends your marriage. You must apply for this within twelve months of receiving the decree nisi.
Our family law team is regarded as one of the top teams in Birmingham, and our team of divorce lawyers in Birmingham regularly receives recognition with top rankings in both the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. We base our success on a practical yet compassionate approach, good working relationships and, most importantly, treating all clients, regardless of status, with respect. We work in partnership with you and will explain all stages of the divorce process so that you know what is happening and your requirements.
The main expertise of our divorce lawyers is in advising fellow professionals and business owners, often with complex commercial or trust related structures. We advise on preventative, proactive steps that can be taken pre-marriage to safeguard family interests, such as prenuptial agreements.
As specialist divorce lawyers, going to court is a last resort for us. Our guide ’10 things to do before calling your divorce lawyer’ explains measures you can take before you initiate divorce proceedings. A whole range of activities starting, where possible, for example around the kitchen table, can result in early agreement although we recognise most people will have exhausted some of those possibilities before coming to us. Being able to ‘do business’ with your soon-to-be ex is critical where children are concerned.
With the largest team of Accredited Family Mediators in the Midlands, we can help with negotiations before divorce proceedings/civil partnership dissolution, including Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs), which are now a compulsory part of the court-application process. Our mediators are also able, where appropriate, to speak to children directly.
For more information about how our team can help you, or make an appointment, please contact us.
Changes to Legal Aid funding
From 1 April 2013, the overhaul of the availability of public funding (“legal aid”) for a range of areas of law for individuals on low incomes saw the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. This has affected the funding of many new cases. For further information, see our useful Changes to Legal Aid guide.
As a respected law firm, our divorce solicitors are passionate about delivering expert legal advice to support you every step of the way. Our experienced team has the knowledge, experience and sensitivity to assist individuals and their families through periods of uncertainty and difficulty.
I feel like you have been on this journey with me and I most certainly would recommend your firm for anyone else I know who needs divorce representation. You have been amazing and don’t know what I would have done without you. To think I have cleared my name and character, got my children back, finalised the divorce, sorted financial matters its been the most difficult time of my life but with your help we have been successful.Mr A.
Thank you for all of your work securing my clean break. I am extremely grateful that everything concluded in the way it has and thank you for making this so. Should any of my friends and associates find themselves in a similar, perplexing position, I will recommend the services of you and your practice whole heartedly.Mr F.
Frequently asked questions
How long does the process last?
A typical divorce and civil partnership dissolution normally takes six to eighteen months to complete depending on the issues involved. You can find out more about the divorce process here.
How do you deal with child matters?
Child matters are dealt with in a conciliatory manner where possible, keeping stress to a minimum. We encourage negotiation and mediation as a means to settlement.
What are the main challenges facing couples engaging in divorce?
A fault-based approach is still required in cases where parties want an immediate divorce. Elizabeth Wyatt, Partner, outlines why this, and other factors, provide challenges to couples facing divorce here. There are additional challenges to those same-sex relationships, and we have discussed those separately here.
What measures are available to clients to protect their finances before or during marriage?
Any measure created in contemplation of divorce, or within a relatively short period before it, is potentially reviewable by the court if it is intended to defeat a spouse’s claim for financial relief. Elizabeth Wyatt discusses what measures are available to clients to protect their finances before or during a divorce here.
Member of the life stage planning team and an Accredited Family Mediator.
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