Guide to Divorce

19th May 2016


by Deborah Allen, Senior Partner, Head of Family Law

The Need for Advice

The thought of divorce can be stressful and worrying, but the actual process should be straightforward with the right professional advice. The process involves very personal aspects of your life so it is important you select a solicitor who is approachable and gives clear advice which you understand.

Our Service and Costs

At Fraser Dawbarns, we have over 150 years experience helping clients with matters of divorce and separation. We understand the need to keep you informed at every stage of the process so you know what you need to do next. With offices across the region, we are close by if you need to meet face to face to discuss an urgent issue or call in to sign and pick up documents to save postal delays.

We provide an estimate of how much our service is likely to cost and will inform you as soon as we know if the cost is likely to be higher than expected. Court fees currently cost £550. You may be exempt from paying all or part of these fees but you are not automatically exempt even if you are eligible for Public Funding – you may still have to pay something.

What We Will Need From You

We will need to get a detailed understanding of your circumstances so we can advise on what grounds there might be for a divorce or if there are other options. We will require a variety of documents and details to achieve this, these could include the following:

  • Why you want a divorce
  • If you are living apart and when you separated
  • Children’s names and ages
  • The current and future arrangements for children
  • How contact between parents and children is organised
  • A list of your assets, savings, income and pension arrangements, and those of your husband or wife
  • Details of any ongoing problems
  • Details of any domestic abuse
  • Your marriage certificate
  • Any other important documents, names and dates

Grounds for Divorce

A Divorce is granted on the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage which has to be proved on one of the following grounds:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable Behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Separation for 2 years with both parties consenting to a Divorce
  • Separation of 5 years

We can give you more details of these grounds for divorce when we discuss your circumstances.

The Divorce Process

Although the legal process for divorce is relatively straightforward, it is often the practical issues such as who will be living where, who gets what, and what happens to the children which are more difficult to resolve.

As a first step, we will write to your husband or wife informing them that you are starting divorce proceedings. We will then send the Divorce Petition to the court. This sets out whether you will be asking your husband or wife to pay for the divorce or to provide some other sort of financial support for you or your children. It will also state the grounds for divorce.

An Adultery Petition will generally not name a third party.

An Unreasonable Behaviour Petition will set out details of behaviour which you find intolerable – there may be a number of individually ‘petty’ things which, when put together, you find difficult or unable to live with.

We try to avoid drafting extensive or inflammatory particulars as it is our aim to avoid acrimony.

The Petition will set out the full names and dates of birth of your children and a separate document is filed giving details of the children’s schooling, accommodation and the contact you have arranged with the ‘absent’ parent.

Once the Divorce papers have been acknowledged by the other side, the party filing the Petition will be able to apply for a Decree Nisi and 6 weeks thereafter a Decree Absolute. The Decree Absolute is when the marriage is legally dissolved.

The process should take approximately 4 months and will not require any attendance at Court.


Disputes normally arise over money, property or contact with children. We will do everything possible to settle a dispute out of court. It usually makes sense for you and your husband or wife to avoid going to court. We will advise on alternatives to court action, such as mediation.

Financial Support

If you have a low income or receive social benefits, you may be able to obtain some financial support. We will be able to advise you about this.

Other Things to Consider

Getting a divorce may give rise to other related matters which need advice from a solicitor’s firm such as ours, for examples:

  • If you have a Will then it may need updating to reflect your new situation
  • If you do not have a Will it may be worth considering having one to ensure your property is left to the right person

If you require advice about any of these areas, or any other legal matter, do not hesitate to contact us by email or phone one of our offices.

Recommended By The Legal 500 Directory*

*We are recommended for the following practice areas: Corporate and Commercial, Debt Recovery, Employment, Personal Injury: Claimant, Agriculture and Estates, Contentious Trusts and Probate, Family, Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate & Commercial Property.

Search Icon Search
Telephone Icon Phone Email Icon Email
Menu Close Icon