Questions You Should Ask Your Divorce Solicitor
How Much Does It Cost To Get Divorced?
Divorce and separation are already stressful because of all the emotional capital you have invested in a relationship. Fear of how much it will cost to end your marriage and divide up your assets only makes it feel more worrying.
Much of this stems from fear of the unknown – especially if you are divorcing after a long marriage. You may have had very little contact with solicitors up until now; perhaps to move house (which can be stressful enough) or to make a will. Getting divorced may seem very scary, no matter how many of your friends or family have been through it before.
Let me reassure you. Yes, divorce will mean a change in your circumstances but it won’t be a financial apocalypse. Financial settlements must be fair otherwise the courts will not allow them. They will not leave you in languishing in poverty while your former spouse lives it up at your expense.
Think of your divorce as a two-stage process:
- the legal process of ending your marriage
- resolving your finances – the division of your assets.
Read this blog post on how much it costs to get divorced. It outlines the legal/court fees and the cost of dividing up your family assets.
Then read this article which explains how to pay for a divorce.
How Long Does It Take To Get Divorced?
On average it takes about six months. Our divorce solicitors advise clients to defer the application for Decree Absolute (the end of your marriage) until all financial matters have been resolved. That ensures you don’t lose out on inheritance or pension benefits if your spouse were to die during the process.
Any delays tend to be during the resolution of finances, particularly if:
- the other party is deliberately being difficult or has misconceived notions about entitlement (“I should get more because I earned more…”)
- the other party lacks focus or has received poor legal advice
- there are complex financial assets – this can involve pensions actuaries or forensic accountants.
Delays can be caused by the other party failing to respond quickly enough to correspondence or divorce papers. Sometimes the courts can delay matters. In rare cases the other party will attempt to defend the proceedings – delaying matters. This can happen when litigants in person (people appearing in court without solicitors) get things wrong or think there’s some merit in defending when there isn’t.
You want to get through your divorce as quickly and as painlessly as possible. In our experience your former partner probably does as well – no matter how much they behave to the contrary and how infuriating they may be.
Getting through the whole thing as speedily and smoothly as you can may be the only thing you agree on (even if neither of you has discussed that with the other). Well, even that small crumb of comfort can be a starting point for mediation – a process proven to make divorce cheaper, quicker and less stressful (because you’re the one in control…not the court). Find out more here about mediation.
What Are The Grounds For Divorce?
Legally there is only one ground for divorce – that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
This must be based on one or more of five facts:
- unreasonable behaviour
- desertion (this is rare)
- two years’ separation with consent
- five years’ separation – no consent is needed.
And this poses a problem for many couples because their reasons for divorce don’t fit into these five categories. They’ve simply fallen out of love. They’re married but emotionally they’ve drifted apart.
They want a ‘no fault divorce’ – but sadly that’s not an option in UK law at the moment (despite all the lobbying from family law solicitors).
That poses a predicament. What if there has been no adultery, no desertion? What if you don’t want to wait two years (let alone five years)? You may have to fall back on ‘unreasonable behaviour’…but you don’t want to make the divorce acrimonious. It’s a dilemma isn’t it? Here’s the solution…
Unreasonable behavior (in the eyes of the family court) does not have to be something as appalling as abuse or the wider definition of controlling behavior. It could be lack of affection, the absence of conjugal relations, sleeping in separate rooms.
So you don’t have to over-egg the pudding and dig up tenuous examples of unreasonable behaviour. Just tell it as it is. The court will understand your plight – not that many couples have to appear in court these days. Getting divorced is simpler than that now.
Here’s how the divorce process works.