A guiding hand…

Whatever the circumstances, divorce is a tough time that can take its toll emotionally, financially and practically.

While the breakdown of a relationship can be messy and complex, the process for divorce is in essence, straightforward, if both parties are in agreement. However, financial matters and children are common sticking points that need to be worked out before your divorce can be finalised.

When a marriage has irretrievably broken down and you and your spouse feel that divorce is the only way forward, the first step is to issue a divorce petition. This petition is drawn up based on one of five grounds for divorce; adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, you have been living separately for two years or more (if your spouse agrees to the divorce) or if you have been living separately for five years or more, irrespective of whether your spouse agrees to the divorce.

Experts in supporting individuals and families through divorce proceedings, our team of knowledgeable experts bring their proactive, caring approach to each case, supporting clients through what is undoubtedly a difficult time.

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To find out how our expert team of solicitors can help you, contact us today on 0330 123 1229, send us an email via info@smithpartnership.co.uk or complete our contact form.


Bringing an end to a civil partnership involves slightly different terminology than bringing an end to a marriage. You can apply to dissolve (end) your civil partnership provided you have been in the registered civil partnership for at least one year. The process is fairly similar to divorce in that you send paperwork to the court to ask for permission to end your civil partnership. You do not normally need to attend the court if you are just dealing with the paperwork application for dissolution. The grounds for ending a civil partnership are that the relationship has irretrievably broken down and this is proved in one of four ways:

  1. Unreasonable behaviour
  2. Desertion
  3. Separation for more than two years with consent
  4. Living apart for more than five years

You may want to speak to your solicitor in advance about the information they would like you to bring in, it may be that they have a form they require to you complete. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to have evidence of your identity upon you so your solicitor can verify who you are. You may also want to prepare a short summary, often just one page of A4 is sufficient, giving everyone’s full name, date of births, addresses, contact details and a general paragraph on the background to the situation.

You also need to have made enquiries with a solicitor in advance about how they expect to be paid for their services and to make sure that you have the methods of payment with you.

Provided you have been married for a year you can file for divorce, an uncontested divorce normally takes between four and six months. There may be reasons to delay taking the final stage i.e. the decree absolute for example, until such time as finances have been resolved. The amount of time can vary according to the speed the parties process the paperwork, paperwork delays at the local divorce unit and whether forms have been completed accurately.

Mediation is best defined as a process whereby you and your former partner sit down with a mediator who is an independent person, often a solicitor/expert in family law, and you and your partner try and reach your own agreement, whether it be with regard to children issues, financial issues or otherwise, with the assistance of the independent mediator rather than have an agreement imposed upon you by the court. The mediator is there to be impartial and does not give advice to either party but just explores the options and provides legal information.

Currently, to get a divorce in England and Wales you have to have been married to your partner for at least one year and you have to satisfy the court that your relationship has permanently broken down. You have to have a marriage that is legally recognised in the UK; this can include same sex marriages and marriages that have taken place abroad in accordance with that particular country’s own legal requirements.

You do not need to have a solicitor to obtain a divorce, it is largely a paperwork exercise taking place at the local divorce unit to you. However, solicitors can take a lot of the stress, anxiety and uncertainty out of the situation.

To get a divorce you need to send paperwork to the local divorce unit. Alongside the divorce, you and your partner should try and resolve any arrangements for looking after your children and work out how to divide your money and property. Normally there is no need for either party to attend court in person when dealing with the divorce itself.

Marriages/relationships can be saved even where there is infidelity. Marriage guidance counselling services such as Relate may be able to assist. However, you may want to have legal advice about whether or not you should divorce/separate. Adultery (having an affair) is a ground for divorce, however if you carry on living together for a period of more than six months after you have discovered about the affair, then you would lose the ability to divorce on that particular ground.

If you decided that the marriage/relationship has broken down as a result of the affair, then you should get legal advice as to all the implications of your relationship breaking down i.e. financial implications and children issues. Please note that having an affair would not normally prevent a party from having ongoing contact with their children, but there may of course be issues about whether any new partner should meet with the children and the timing of the same.

Find out more from Relate Relationship Support.