Marriage Difficulties and Divorce

If you are going through marriage problems, you will understandably feel that this is a difficult and life changing time for you. If you are uncertain about the future of your marriage or civil partnership, it could benefit you to seek legal advice as soon as possible. The Family Law team at Fraser Dawbarns are here to support you through this process.

It is worth bearing in mind that not every relationship breakdown will end in divorce. Many couples can save their relationship, and we can advise you of organisations that can help you and how to contact them.

Sadly, some relationships can’t be saved and the only way you can get a divorce is through legal channels. Depending on how complicated your circumstances are you may not need to go to Court to get a divorce.

Our Specialists

Daniel Sims

Solicitor - Kings Lynn

Deborah Allen

Solicitor, Senior Partner, Head of Family Department - Kings Lynn

Emma Stearman

Solicitor - Kings Lynn

Rebecca Woodley

Solicitor, Senior Associate - Downham Market

Stefanie Summers

Solicitor, Associate - Wisbech

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Getting a Divorce

If you have decided to get a divorce, you will likely be unsure about what will happen to your children, property and finances as well as how much it will cost. Fraser Dawbarns will help you to understand the process by answering your questions and explaining your options.

You need to have been married for at least a year before you can get divorced and there must be an ‘irretrievable’ breakdown of the marriage. There are five grounds for divorce, one of which must be met for proceedings to continue.

The Five Grounds for Divorce

When filing for divorce, you will need to specify the reason for the divorce. In England and Wales, there are just five reasons that can be given.

1. Adultery

Adultery can only be used as grounds for divorce where sexual intercourse with the opposite sex has taken place. Same sex relationships are not considered to be adultery nor is any sexual act apart from intercourse. Any divorce filing that cites adultery as grounds, must refer to the adultery of the respondent. You must also file for divorce within 6 months of finding out about the adultery.

2. Unreasonable Behaviour

Unreasonable behaviour can be a wide range of behaviours, from physical and mental abuse to lack of support. Because of the broad interpretation of unreasonable behaviour, it is commonly used where none of the other grounds apply. Despite this, a description of the unreasonable behaviour must be cited and an example must have occurred in the previous 6 months. 

3. Desertion

Desertion is rarely used as grounds for a divorce. It can be used as a reason if your spouse has left you, intending to end the relationship for at least two years withing the previous two and a half years. In practice it is more common to cite living apart for two years as a reason when both partners agree to the divorce.

4. Living apart for 2 years (with agreement)

If you and your husband or wife have lived separately for the last two years and both agree to the divorce, you can file for divorce on this ground. This is one of only two grounds that does not require apportioning blame or fault for the breakdown of the marriage.

5. Living apart for more than 5 years (with no agreement)

If you and your husband or wife have lived separately for the last five years, even if your partner does not agree to the divorce, you can use this ground to file for divorce. This is one of only two grounds that does not require apportioning blame or fault for the breakdown of the marriage.

No Fault Divorce

On the 6 April 2022, No Fault Divorce was introduced in England and Wales leading on from the case of Tini Owens. Family lawyer, Jackie Jessiman has written about this here.

Support and Guidance Through the Divorce Process

Most people seeking a divorce will need some kind of legal help. Our team can provide you with guidance and help you to formalise a financial agreement that protects you against future claims. We can help you with your paperwork and guide you toward a reasonable settlement.

In the majority of cases, you and your partner will reach a mutual agreement without having to go to Court for a contested hearing. Our Family Law team will take the time to understand your needs and help you reach a fair agreement that works for you, your partner and your children. 

Fixed Fee Divorce


At Fraser Dawbarns, we understand that clients going through a divorce have enough to deal with without also having to worry about costs.

To give you total peace of mind, we have developed a fixed fee divorce package so you will know exactly how much things will cost before they proceed. This package costs £670 excluding VAT* and Court Fees (currently at £593)

* A 10% discount is available for pre-payment which brings the cost down to £603 excluding VAT 

Included in the Fixed Fee Package is: 

  • An initial consultation with one of our specialist family lawyers who will be dedicated to your case
  • Advice on your legal rights and your options
  • Preparation of all the required papers and applications
  • Correspondence and negotiation with your ex-spouse or civil partner, their solicitor and the Court
  • Reporting to you and providing telephone support throughout the process

The Fixed Fee Package Does Not Include:

  • Work that arises if the petition is defended or needs to be changed once it has been issued by the Court
  • Cost of obtaining a replacement marriage certificate if you have lost the original
  • Advice regarding financial issues
  • Advice regarding children

Related Services


If you are in an unhappy marriage or you feel that your relationship is breaking down, you may be considering separation. If you are not ready to divorce your partner, you could consider a separation agreement. This sets boundaries about who will live in the family home, who will look after the children and how much maintenance will be paid. The Family Law team at Fraser Dawbarns can help you with separation agreements, judicial separation as well as the possibility of divorce in the future. If you have questions about any aspect of separation then we can help. Although the answer might not always be black and white, our specialist solicitors can help with your situation and advise on the legal implications of separation.

Unmarried Couples

It is widely believed that a couple who lives together for a significant length of time gain similar legal rights to a married couple, but this is a myth. The legal rights affecting a relationship breakdown in these situations is very different. Unmarried couples have no claim against the other for maintenance or pension sharing. This is regardless of how long they were together, or whether one was the breadwinner and the other raised the children. If you have joint finances, property or children together, finding out that you don’t have the same rights as a spouse can add stress to the break up. It is as important to seek legal advice in these situations as it is for people considering divorce. 


I could not recommend Fraser Dawbarns more highly. They helped me through the whole process of being an Executor. The customer service is absolutely excellent.
Client - Downham Market Office

Why Choose Fraser Dawbarns to Help You?

We Help to minimise Family Conflict

At Fraser Dawbarns, our Family lawyers have considerable experience in divorce cases. Our dedicated team will help you get through this emotional and stressful time. We take a collaborative approach to achieve this with minimal conflict and acrimony. We will help you to reach a fair solution on any issues that arise involving children, property and money.

Our Family Law team will keep you informed at each step in the process so you know what is happening and what steps you need to take next. Fraser Dawbarns is one of the largest and most well-established firms in the region. We have members of our Family Law team at each of the firm’s offices in Wisbech, King’s Lynn, Downham Market, March and Ely. 

Pricing Options

In more complex cases that are beyond the scope of the fixed fee service, we offer a choice of pricing options to our clients. By offering the choice between undertaking work on either a fixed fee basis or at an hourly rate, we give you the freedom to select the pricing option that best suits your needs. In certain circumstances we are able to offer a free consultation, please contact us to find out more about this.

Giving you Total peace of Mind

We offer our clients the expert and comprehensive legal advice that they are entitled to expect. We also provide our clients with support, a sympathetic ear and peace of mind during what is a very difficult and emotional time. 

Contact Us Today

Our team will help you from the beginning of your case to the end, giving you total peace of mind. If you would like friendly, client focused advice on a wide range of legal issues, get in touch and see how we can help you.

Call or email us today and find out how we can make your life easier. 

Wisbech: 01945 461456
March: 01354 602880
King's Lynn: 01553 666600
Ely: 01353 383483
Downham Market: 01366 383171
Email: info@fraserdawbarns.com
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