What are the grounds for divorce?

There is one ground, namely that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To prove this you must rely on one of five facts; adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two year separation with consent, five years separation, desertion for a period in excess of two years.

For more information please click on the link for our divorce leaflet on the right.

How long will my divorce take and what is it likely to cost?

If there are no complications the process is likely to take 6 months from start to finish. The proceedings will take longer however if there are any disputes concerning the children or finances or there are problems with service. For a detailed guide to the procedure please click the link for our divorce leaflet on the right.

The cost of a straightforward undefended divorce is approximately £800 + VAT plus Court Fees of £550.

My husband and I are divorcing. The children will be living with me. Will I retain the house?

This will depend on a number of factors. The needs of the children are a priority and this includes their housing needs. If you are not able to adequately re-house the children using the available equity and any mortgage capacity the Court will specify that you should remain in the home if this is financially viable. However the Court does need to balance the needs of the parties so if there are insufficient assets to compensate your husband for his share the Court can specify that your husband will retain an interest in the house to be realised when the children reach 18 or 21 and finish full-time education for example. This is called a deferred charge.

I have worked all my life to build up my pension. Can my wife claim any of it?

Pensions are relevant assets and will be taken into account by the Court. However, a pension is a different type of asset and will not be treated the same as available capital. You will be asked to obtain a valuation of the pension. Most commonly this will be the Cash Equivalent Value or CEV. Once the value of the pension is known this can be considered alongside the other assets. The Court will consider the financial resources available to both of you and balance this against your respective needs. If your wife has no pension provision, perhaps because she has stayed at home and looked after the children, then your wife is likely to be awarded part of the pension. This will of course depend on the other assets available.

What sort of pension provision can be made?

The Court can award a pension share where a specified percentage of the pension is transferred from your scheme into a pension in your wife’s name. This might be to another pension provider, an external transfer, or can remain within the same scheme, an internal transfer. Alternatively the Court can make a pension attachment order. This is when the funds remain within your pension but part of the pension (either the lump sum or ongoing payments) is earmarked for your wife. These types of orders are less common and do not achieve a clean break. In practice many couples choose to offset the pension against another asset. A common example is the wife retaining the house in return for the husband preserving his pension. This might be appropriate but regard must be had to the fact that the pension is not readily available capital and that only a percentage can be taken as a lump sum with the rest representing an income stream.

I have been living with my partner for more than two years. We are not married but am I his common law wife?

There is no such thing as a common law wife or husband. Cohabiting partners are not able to make claims against each other in the same way as married couples. If you have pooled your resources to acquire assets then you will have a claim in respect of those assets. However, you will not be able to claim maintenance for yourself or against your partner’s pension if you are not married. If you have children together you may be entitled to maintenance for the children and may be able to apply for other financial provision for them in addition.

I have been living with my partner for a number of years. We are not married. While we were living together my partner purchased a property in his sole name but I have contributed to the mortgage and improvements at the property. We have now separated do I have a claim?

You might have a claim. If the property was purchased in your former partner’s sole name the presumption is that the property is owned entirely by him. The burden is therefore on you to establish an interest in the property. This can be difficult. If the matter went to Court the Court would examine the whole course of dealings between you, including whether you have pooled your resources and shared expenses. Your common intentions would be examined and any discussions between you concerning the ownership of the property considered. The purpose for which the property was purchased is relevant as are any contributions that you have made to the property.

My wife and I have decided that we want a divorce and we now wish to sort out our finances and the arrangements for the children. What options do we have?

You can reach an agreement between yourselves, attend mediation, take part in the collaborative law process or instruct a solicitor to negotiate for you and issue Court proceedings if all else fails. If matters are fairly amicable then one of the first three options may suit you but if you have concerns and need to safeguard your position then you will need to instruct a solicitor straightaway. Even when negotiating your own agreement and attending mediation it is still sensible to seek legal advice to ensure that you understand your rights and the full implications of any agreements and decisions that you take.

Do we have to go to Court?

If you are divorcing your divorce petition must be issued in Court. However, it is not necessary for you to attend Court if the divorce is not contested and agreement is reached in relation to the children and finances. Court should be seen as a last resort and other methods of dispute resolution explored first such as mediation, collaborative law process and negotiating through your solicitor. For guidance on the right process for you please click here for the Resolution Website or click their leaflet on the right.