Divorce solicitors in Brighton - grounds for Divorce/Dissolution of a Civil Partnership
If you are looking for divorce solicitors in Brighton, we have a strong and empathetic team who can advise, support and guide you through the divorce process from start to finish.
There is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has broken down beyond repair. In order to issue divorce/civil partnership proceedings, a year has to have passed since the date of the marriage before the Application for a divorce can be taken to the Court. Applications for a divorce can either be made jointly, or by one party to the marriage. If an application is made solely, the person who takes the lead on the divorce becomes known as the Applicant and the other party becomes known as the Respondent. If it is made jointly, you will both be Applicants and there will not be a Respondent.
Following the recent introduction of “no fault divorce”, it is no longer necessary to prove any specific facts (such as the occurrence of adultery, or unreasonable behaviour, 2 years’ separation or 5 years’ separation and so on) as it is simply enough that the parties state that the marriage/partnership has irretrievably broken down.
The Divorce Procedure
Most commonly, divorce applications (formerly known as a divorce petition) are made by one party to the marriage and can be made using the online system, meaning that they can be dealt with digitally. In some circumstances, documents may be provided in paper copies by the court.
The application needs to be accompanied by the original marriage certificate, or civil partnership certificate and there is a Court fee of £593 (at the time of writing, although this does change fairly regularly). You may be eligible for some exemption of the Court fee if you are on a low income. This is something our solicitors can discuss with you before issuing any proceedings.
Assuming that the application is made by one party to the marriage, the Court will then issue the Application and send it to the Respondent with an Acknowledgment of Service. The Respondent must complete and send this back to the Court within 14 days of receipt. Normally the Respondent will agree the content of the divorce application and will allow the proceedings to proceed undisputed.
If it is a joint application for a divorce, you will each complete an Acknowledgement of Service.
Divorce proceedings are very rarely disputed and there are only a few ways to do so but, if necessary, we will explain to you the procedures involved should proceedings become disputed. If you are seeking to dispute a Divorce Application, then please do contact us directly for bespoke advice.
If the Respondent does not return the Acknowledgment of Service to the Court, we will explain to you the options available to proceed with the Divorce Application.
Upon the receipt of the Respondent’s Acknowledgment of Service, we must wait 20 weeks (as mandated by the government to allow a period of reflection) from the date upon which your Divorce Application was issued by the court and we would then prepare an application for a Conditional Order (formerly known as the Decree Nisi). The Conditional Order is effectively an acknowledgement that you are entitled to a divorce. The application will be considered by a District Judge through the online portal and if he/she approves the contents of the Divorce Application, the Court will fix a date for the pronouncement of the Conditional Order.
At the hearing for the pronouncement of the Conditional Order, the District Judge will consider whether you are entitled to a Conditional Order. It is not usual for the parties to attend the Conditional Order hearing unless the Respondent challenges the making of the Conditional Order, or in the uncommon event that there is a specific dispute in respect of an Order for legal costs.
Once the Conditional Order has been pronounced, after a period of 6 weeks and 1 day the Applicant can apply to the Court for the Final Order (formerly known as the Decree Absolute). If the Applicant does not make the application for the Final Order in that timescale, the Respondent is able to make an application for a Final Order 3 months from the date of the Conditional Order.
The Final Order ends the marriage and replaces the marriage certificate.
As a result of the pronouncement of the Final Order:
· The parties are free to re-marry should they wish to;
· any reference to a former spouse in a Will is removed (for the purposes of the Will they are treated as deceased). A new Will should be made especially if there is property, or children of the family; and
· Pensions – the parties will lose their rights under any of the pension schemes of their former spouse. This is why we would not apply for a Final Order until financial matters are agreed and concluded.
Before or after you apply for a Divorce (but, ideally, before applying for a Final Order in respect of your divorce), you and your partner should try to resolve:
- How to divide your matrimonial finances between you and in what proportions (including what is to happen with any matrimonial home, or any other jointly owned properties); and
- Child arrangements for any children including who they are to live with and when.
If you haven’t agreed what to do with your money, your home/properties, or children, you can still apply for a divorce or dissolution. However, it is most prudent to resolve the matrimonial finances before finalising your divorce by applying for the Final Order. If these issues are not dealt with then they can become problems later for you, or even potentially become problems for your children after your death if your surviving former spouse makes a claim against your estate.
The division of matrimonial finances and the agreement of any necessary child arrangement issues can be complex and emotional issues to deal with and we can assist you with this with the aim of bringing matters to as speedy and painless a solution as possible.