Getting a divorce

At DS Legal we know how daunting and overwhelming the thought of separating or divorcing can be.  It needn’t be. Our team of experts are here to offer you informed and specialist advice and we can guide you through the whole process.

While of course every case is unique, we suspect that these are some of your concerns:

  • I can’t afford a lawyer, but I am unsure of the process; what do I do?
  • What will happen to the children?
  • My ex partner is likely to be difficult over contact, what can I do?
  • Who will pay the mortgage?
  • Where will I live?
  • Can I get maintenance?
  • I can’t afford to live on my own and support my former spouse
  • What will happen to the business?
  • What will happen to my pension?
  • I don’t have a pension, can I share my ex partners?

The first and most important piece of advice in relation to these issues and others is – don’t panic. We have vast experience in dealing with all these matters and we can guide you through the whole process.  At DS Legal we have put in place strategies, communications and financial packages to suit your budget.

The way we communicate with you

In today’s market, experienced specialist advice alone is not always enough.  We know and understand that, which we why we communicate with you in the way you prefer.  While  some clients prefer face-to-face meetings, others prefer to deal with us over the phone or communicate by email.  You may prefer to skype. Whatever your preferred means of communication, we can offer it.

Financial packages available

We operate a flexible charging policy and therefore can offer several types of financial packages to suit most budgets.  These range from our tailor-made hourly rate service, to our fixed fee divorce and our ‘do-it-yourself’ packages, where you simply buy in advice and assistance as and when you want to. Please get in touch with us to discuss the best option for you.

Understanding your personal circumstances

We will want you to be open with us so that we can develop a good understanding of your circumstances.  We will ask you for a variety of details and documents. These may include:

  • The reasons you want a divorce
  • How long you have been living apart from your partner
  • The names and ages of any children who are part of the family
  • Current and future living arrangements for the family
  • Details of current contact arrangements between you or your partner and the children
  • A list of your assets, savings, income and pension funds and those of your partner
  • Details of any ongoing problems, such as debts
  • Details of any domestic abuse
  • Your marriage certificate.

Grounds for divorce

In order to obtain a divorce you need to prove to the court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. To do this you must show that your marriage is beyond repair because of one of the following:

  • Your partner has committed adultery
  • Your partner’s behaviour is such that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them
  • Your partner left against your wishes and you have not seen him or her for two years or more
  • You have been separated from your partner for two years and you both agree to being divorced
  • You have been separated from your partner for at least five years.

Once we have more information from you we will be able to advise you which of the above is most suitable for you.

If the process of divorce is unacceptable to you on religious grounds, we can advise you about other forms of separation.

The divorce process

Divorce is a relatively straightforward process which can often be dealt with on paper, without the need to attend court. What is generally much less straightforward is sorting out the practical issues associated with a divorce, such as where each person will live, who gets what, and arrangements for any children. If you and your partner can agree on these matters between yourselves without external mediation or court action, you can save valuable time and reduce costs greatly. Sadly, this is not always possible.

The person applying for the divorce is known as ‘the Petitioner’, and the person they are divorcing is ‘the Respondent’. At the start of your proceedings we will discuss with you about writing a letter to your partner to tell them that you have instructed us to start divorce proceedings. In this letter we will also recommend that your partner gets independent legal advice if they have not done so already, as this will aid the process.

Divorce petition

To start your proceedings we will send your divorce petition to the court.  The petition sets out the reasons why you feel that the marriage has broken down, whether you will be seeking to recover the costs of your divorce from your partner or whether you are seeking some financial support for you or your children. We can also send a draft copy of your petition, before issuing it, to your partner or their solicitor for them to consider in accordance with the Family Law Protocol (you do not have to take this step if you do not wish to).

Once your partner or their solicitor has received the petition they have seven days to reply. Once a reply is received, we will prepare the next set of papers which is a sworn statement or ‘affidavit’.  Your application for the Decree Nisi is then lodged with the court. If your partner does not reply or cannot be found, we will advise you as to your options.  If you have children under the age of 16 (or between 16 and 18 in full time education), you will need to complete an additional form giving details about your children. This will include information such as:

  • Who they will live with
  • Where they go to school
  • What your plans for them are, including any contact arrangements.

This information will determine the Statement of Arrangements for Children, which is basically information for the court to make sure that the children are properly provided for.

Decree Nisi – 1st Decree

Once the court is satisfied that your marriage has broken down irretrievably they will issue a certificate stating that you are entitled to be divorced. The court will allocate a date and time for the judge to pronounce the Decree Nisi. When the Decree Nisi is pronounced, you are not actually divorced at this stage. At this time, if you and your partner have not agreed on whether your partner will reimburse you the legal costs of the divorce, the judge will make the decision for you.

Decree Absolute – 2nd/Final Decree

Six weeks after the Decree Nisi you can apply for the Decree Absolute.  The Decree Absolute legally ends your marriage. However, in most cases we usually recommend waiting until financial matters have been resolved.

Can we help you?

If you would like to discuss starting divorce proceedings, please call Colleen on 01242 517949,  01792 892692 or 01993 220651.  Alternatively, please email us We’re here to help.

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