FAQ - Family Law
I am thinking about divorcing my spouse. Where do I start?
You can only start divorce proceedings if you have been married for a year. The first step is to complete the petition to apply for a divorce. The form can be found online and you will have to disclose details on your marriage and the reasons why you wish to end it. This will be sent to the court along with the fee (£550 as of October 2020) and your original marriage certificate. We highly recommend that you contact Stella Maris Solicitors LLP to help you complete the forms correctly. After this, the court will send a copy of the papers to your spouse and the process can continue.
Can we both file for divorce?
No. Only one party (the petitioner) will be able to file for a divorce and the other party (the respondent) will have the opportunity to defend their case or put forward any other grounds for divorce that they may have.
What are the grounds for divorce?
There is only one ground for divorce, which must be proved by demonstrating one of five facts. The only ground available for divorce in the UK is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The five facts that you can use to prove this are: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, that you have lived apart for two continuous years and you both agree to divorce, or if you have been separated for at least five years (even if only one of you wants to divorce).
Will we have to go to court?
You and your partner may be able to get divorced without going to court if neither of you contest the divorce or the reasons behind it. If you can reach a reasonable agreement between yourselves about finances and childcare, then there will be no need to go to court in person. This is what happens in the majority of cases, which are dealt with entirely on paper.
What happens to the children?
In the majority of cases, a divorcing couple will make an agreement between themselves as to what will happen to the children. This can be done quickly. If you cannot agree, the court will be able to issue court orders as to who the child will live with and what contact they will have with the other parent. It can also grant orders on specific issues such as changing the child’s name or moving the child out of the country. When considering which order to make, a judge will always prioritise your child’s welfare and best interests. Stella Maris Solicitors LLP are experts based in Swindon and can advise and represent you during the whole process.