The decision to end a relationship is rarely taken lightly. A break-up is usually a time of great anguish, shock, upset and often high stress. The process of bringing a marriage or civil partnership to an end will have a major emotional and financial impact on all family members. We can help you explore your options, including a referral to a relationship counsellor or engaging in Family Mediation where appropriate and at the right time. Our aim is to help separating couples achieve a constructive settlement of any problems so as to minimise lengthy arguments and encourage you both to co-operate and communicate about the welfare of any children.
What is your approach to dealing with divorces, separation etc.?
- In three words “Firm but fair”. High emotion and stress are common in the early stages of the breakdown of a relationship and there is a delicate line to be taken to achieve the best possible outcome for all involved. We start from the standpoint of trying to achieve a fair outcome with the least upset possible, however if other parties do not adopt the same approach we will take as firm and robust an approach as is necessary to protect our clients’ interests. We well understand that emotions take time to settle and that feelings can be very raw in the early stages of a breakdown. Our role is not just to deal with technical legal matters but to give our clients peace of mind, reduce risks and solve the practical problems that inevitably flow from a relationship breakdown.We subscribe to the Code of Practice of Resolution (formerly the Solicitors Family Law Association)The members of our Family Law Unit are specialists with the following being members of the Law Society’s specialist Family Law Panel. We are experts in our field.
||Zoe Robinson and Carmelita Ardren are two of the very few Advanced members of the Law Society’s Family Law Specialist Accreditation Scheme in North Yorkshire.
What are the grounds for divorce?
- In fact there is only one ground for divorce (or ‘matrimonial order’) and that is that the marriage has “irretrievably broken down”. However, in order to establish this you will need to prove one of the five facts; adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years desertion, two years separation with the consent of the other party or five years separation.
What are the grounds for the dissolution of a civil partnership?
- The facts on which the dissolution of a civil partnership must be based are similar for those for divorce, and are unreasonable behaviour, two years separation with consent, five years separation or desertion for two years.There are two stages to the dissolution of the civil partnership once proceedings have been issued, the first stage is a conditional order and later that order is made final. The application for the dissolution of a civil partnership cannot take place for at least one year from the date of the registration.
Can I commence divorce proceedings straight away?
- Yes, but only if:
- you have been married for at least one year and you can prove that your spouse has either:
- committed adultery, or
- behaved unreasonably and that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her, and
- you are living separate and apart (although that might still be under the same roof).
I want my divorce to be amicable – which is the best way to proceed?
- The least contentious way is to consider issuing proceedings upon the basis that you have lived apart for at least two years and your spouse/ civil partner consents to a divorce. This avoids any unpleasant allegations being made against each other which can itself be a cause for conflict. You may also wish to consider Family Mediation or Collaborative Law as a way of resolving any issues arising out of the breakdown of the marriage / civil partnership.
What is Family Mediation?
- Mediation is the process in which the mediator, who is impartial, assists those in the process of separating or divorcing to communicate better with one another to make their own decisions about some or all of the issues arising from separation, dissolution, divorce, children, finance or property. It is a tried, tested and working method of resolving issues upon separation, dissolution and divorce.
How long will it take?
- The divorce process through the Court itself may only take 4-6 months provided that everyone involved does what they are required to do without delay. However, there are often issues about financial matters or children which can delay the divorce for a few months or in some cases considerably longer.
How much will it cost?
- Each case is individual and the cost of the divorce will depend upon the level of co-operation between you both and whether the proceedings are contested. For an assessment of costs please contact Carmelita Ardren who can help you further. However in every case you will have to pay court fees to apply for the divorce.
I don’t want to divorce at the moment but still want to separate. What are my options?
- There are a variety of personal reasons why you may not wish to divorce, and not only for religious reasons. If you and your partner can agree financial issues then this can be incorporated into a separation agreement. Such an agreement reflects how you intend to resolve financial issues shortly after the breakdown of the relationship and as such it will carry a great deal of weight with a Judge if you eventually come to divorce. Personal circumstances do change, new partners, inheritance, new children etc so it is wise to resolve your financial issues now.If however you cannot resolve your financial issues yourselves or with the help of mediation / collaborative law and you still don’t want to divorce then you may have to consider the option of Judicial Separation. Judicial separation requires the same grounds, practice and procedure as a divorce but at the conclusion there is a decree of Judicial Separation. Upon grant of this Decree your marriage is not dissolved and you are not divorced but will be released from your duty to cohabit with your spouse. There is no need to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The advantage of judicial separation proceedings is that you can still ask the Court to determine the financial matters attached to the breakdown of the relationship. A disadvantage is that there is a slightly reduced range of options available relating to pension provision which will require specific advice.Finally once a decree of Judicial Separation has been pronounced your spouse can no longer inherit under the provisions of your existing will. If this is what you intend then it will be necessary to make another one confirming your intentions.Judicial separation proceedings are still very rarely used as once parties have reached this stage it is generally evident that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and they tend to opt for a divorce instead.
I am not married / civil partnered but I am separating from my cohabitee. What is my position?
- When cohabitees separate they face the same painful experiences that a married or civil partnered couple face. Unlike married/civil partnered couples however you are not given the protection of matrimonial legislation, particularly in relation to financial matters. Your position depends very heavily on your individual circumstances and what was either implied or agreed between you both.
Is there anything else I should think about?
- Divorce, the termination of a Civil Partnership or Judicial Separation revoke any existing will that you have. Even if you are separating without getting involved in any of these the breakdown of your relationship will probably mean that you need to rethink the terms of any existing will. This may not be as easy as you might think and it makes sense to get proper advice about this.There is no formal procedure for couples who wish to separate but the financial and children issues are no less important. For more information on what you may be entitled to please see our section on Finances – when a relationship breaks down.