Providing all the support you need if you have decided to divorce

If you have decided to proceed with divorce, our family law solicitors provide all the legal advice and support you need. Proceeding with divorce can be a difficult and emotional time and we want to help you make the right decisions for you and your family. Divorce is a last resort and you should be sure that it is what you want – many couples consider marriage guidance counselling, through an agency such as Relate.

If you decide to proceed with divorce this can take 6-12 months, and depending on the circumstances there can be much to consider. This can include financial matters and, if you have children, developing a child agreement that is in their best interest. As one of the leading UK family and divorce law firms, having expert legal advice at an early stage can avoid problems that may occur during the process.

Our expert family solicitors can help with all aspects of divorce including:


Why choose Moore Barlow?

We are one of the top family law solicitors in London and Hampshire and are recommended by Legal 500 and Chambers & Co,  independent legal directories, as an “excellent, proactive and responsive practice”.

At Moore Barlow, we can help you through the divorce process, from giving legal advice on the finances to helping with child agreements. Our experienced solicitors will assist you every step of the way, no matter how complex your case is.

What are the grounds for divorce?

To apply for a divorce, you must have been married for more than one year and be able to satisfy the court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
You need to pick a ground for the divorce from:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years’ separation with consent
  • Five years’ separation without consent
  • Desertion

Stages of divorce

The process begins with the person seeking the divorce, known as the Petitioner, filing the petition at court and a Statement of Reconciliation. This confirms that you, as Petitioner, and your solicitor have discussed the possibility of reconciliation. The petition and court fee (currently £550) are all sent to the court, along with your original marriage certificate, which won’t be returned.

The court will send a copy of the processed petition, together with a Notice of Proceedings / Acknowledgement of Service, to the Respondent, who is the other person in the divorce.

The Respondent completes the Acknowledgement of Service and returns it. If they accept the stated grounds for divorce and don’t intend to defend it, their role in this process comes to an end.

The Petitioner then has to file a statement in support of the petition and a request for the court to grant the first of the two divorce decrees, known as the Decree Nisi. This is the first time the papers will go before a judge; until then, it’s purely an administrative process. If all is in order, the judge issues a Certificate of Entitlement with a date for the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi. It’s not usually necessary for anyone to attend the pronouncement, as this is effectively a ‘paper stamping exercise’.

Six weeks and a day after the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi, you can apply for the Decree Absolute. This is the second and final divorce decree, after which you can remarry. We will not advise you to do this whilst financial matters remain unresolved.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

Depending on the court and availability of court time, the divorce process can take around 6 to 12 months. However, many people delay the application for the decree absolute until the finances are settled.

What are the court fees for applying for a divorce?

Currently, the court fee is £550. This does not include solicitors’ fees. At Moore Barlow, we are flexible about how you instruct us , which means you can keep control of the costs.

Can the courts deal with your divorce; do they have ‘jurisdiction’?

The courts in England and Wales can deal with your divorce if they have ‘jurisdiction’, which usually means as long as both parties are habitually resident which means living in England or Wales.

You may need to prove you are habitually resident in England or Wales and have been for at least one year. There are other aspects involved; some of them are complex and your solicitor can discuss and explain them.

If you are in any doubt about whether the courts of England and Wales can accept your petition, you should ask our advice straight away. If you delay, you might lose the opportunity to start proceedings here and take advantage of the local laws on divorce, finances and children, if your spouse takes steps to start a divorce in another country.

You should not tip off your spouse if you want to use a certain jurisdiction; time is very much of the essence so do not delay. We are specialists in international family law and can help you if are married to a non-UK national or if divorce proceedings have already been started abroad.

The next step – how do I get a divorce?

It’s a good idea to see us as early as possible if you are contemplating divorce, as our advice at this stage can save complications later on. For example, you may need to act quickly if your partner is about to start disposing of assets or transferring property, in an attempt to prevent you benefiting from them.

We are recognised as one of the UK’s leading divorce and family law firms, with a strong reputation for representing our clients in divorce cases. Our experience and knowledge, together with clear explanation that keeps you informed throughout the process, will make it seem less daunting and help you feel more optimistic for the future.

We have family law solicitors across the South East of England with offices in Guildford, City of London, Richmond, Southampton, Lymington and Woking.

How long does the divorce take?

Typically it takes around four to six months to complete the divorce proceedings, assuming that they are not contested. It can take longer depending on how quickly both parties deal with the paperwork and respond to the court. Another factor can be extra delays if the court has a significant backlog of work at the relevant time.

Do I need grounds for divorce?

There is only one ground for a divorce, the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, but you have to cite one of five facts to support it. Those five facts are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years separation with consent, five years separation without consent or desertion. At present there is no such thing in law as “no fault divorce” but it is being looked at by Parliament.

Will I need to go to court?

Usually there is no need physically to go to court as the divorce proceedings can be dealt with as a paper exercise. The only time that any physical appearance at court is needed is if one party decides to contest or defend divorce proceedings which is very rare.

Will my assets be split 50:50 upon divorce?

The starting point is often 50:50, known as “the yardstick of equality”, but the overall division will depend on various different criteria, such as the needs of the parties, including their housing needs and the needs of any dependant children. The financial settlement is looked at alongside the divorce proceedings.

Who receives custody of the children in a divorce?

Usually parents can decide the arrangements for their children between themselves without any need for the court to become involved. If the court does have to become involved then the outcome will be determined by what is in the children’s best interests, considering how old they are, their physical, emotional and educational needs, their wishes and feelings, the likely effect on them of any change in their circumstances, any cultural or other relevant background circumstances and any harm the children have suffered or are at risk of suffering. All relevant circumstances will be taken into account.