When you separate from your spouse, you will have many questions that our divorce solicitors are on hand to answer, placing your mind at ease as quickly as possible. Our expert divorce solicitors, based in our Sevenoaks office, will guide you through the emotional and practical difficulties you may face and will be there to support you throughout the legal process.
We recognise that many people who go through divorce will not have done it before, so we offer clients an opportunity to get to know our divorce solicitors before we are formally instructed to continue with your divorce proceedings. We will meet with you at an initial consultation where we will discuss your circumstances, needs, the divorce process and costs. You can use it to judge whether we are the right solicitors for you.
We offer an initial interview (subject to some restrictions). The consultation is offered at a significantly discounted rate and will give you the opportunity to get to know us and ask questions. We will give you an overview of your options and provide you with an estimate of our fees.
We offer complete transparency as to our charges. We offer a free initial interview (subject to some restrictions) and hourly charging rates, which range from £265 plus VAT to £350 plus VAT, depending upon the lawyer’s expertise and qualification period. All of our lawyers are qualified solicitors. We use paralegals in support roles where appropriate at lower hourly charging rates to keep costs to a minimum for our clients. The overall costs for dealing with the financial aspects of a divorce starts from £1,000. We always provide a tailored cost estimate before starting substantive work on any case. We offer various funding options, including introductions to litigation lenders and Sears Tooth (pay at conclusion), subject to relevant individual considerations.
(all prices correct at time of publication – March 2023. Please contact up for the most up to date prices).
The process of divorce
Step 1 – Initial consultation
At this stage, your chosen solicitor will want to find out about you and your situation. Your solicitor will need as much information as possible to give you an accurate timescale and estimate of the likely costs involved. Your solicitor will need to know about the following:
- The history of your marriage – when and where you were married and the major events that have happened throughout the marriage, including the births of any children.
- The reason for your separation and divorce.
- Your finances – at this stage, it is ok to have a rough estimate, but we will need a thorough breakdown at a later date. We will need to know about all the assets you and your partner own, including property, investments and pensions.
- If you have a prenuptial agreement or if you have already come to an agreement with your ex-partner about finances or the arrangements for your children.
This first consultation will typically take about an hour. At this meeting, we will explain all the options available to you and we will provide an estimate of our fees. You will need to bring with you your marriage certificate and some ID. If you would like us to send you a note of the matters that we discussed after your meeting, then we can also arrange to do this.
Click here for more information about preparing for the initial meeting with your family solicitor.
Step 2 – The legal process of divorce
After the initial meeting, you should have a clearer idea about how to proceed. The steps you need to take will vary depending on if you are making a sole application (you are the ‘Applicant’), you are responding to an application (you are the ‘Respondent’) or if you are making a joint application.
The key stages are as follows:
- The Applicant submits the divorce application to the court, along with the court fee and a copy of the marriage certificate.
- The court will issue the application and send it to the Respondent. The court will send a document called the “Acknowledgement of Service”. The Respondent then has 14 days to return the document to the court. The Respondent can use this form to say if they want to dispute the divorce or not.
- A minimum waiting period of 20 weeks must elapse from the start of proceedings before you can apply for the Conditional Order (previously called a Decree Nisi). This waiting time is designed to allow couples to agree on plans for the future. This is also a good time to start your Financial Consent Order application. It is important to be aware that obtaining a divorce does not automatically deal with the splitting of your finances. The only way to end all financial obligations between you and your spouse is to obtain a Financial Remedy Order, also known as a Consent Order if the agreement is reached voluntarily between you.
- You will then apply for the Conditional Order. If the court approves the application, it will issue a Certificate of Entitlement. After a few weeks, the court will then grant the Conditional Order.
- After this, there is a 6-week cooling-off period before you can apply for the Final Order. During this period, you may want to submit your Financial Consent Order to the court for approval.
- You can now apply for the Final Order (formally Decree Absolute); it will usually be granted within 24 hours. Once this has been granted, your marriage has legally come to an end.
Step 3 – The Financial Order (Finances and divorce)
Finances are dealt with separately from the divorce and can often be the biggest cause of conflict between ex-partners. However, several processes can be used to help spouses come to an agreement without having to go to court; they are:
- Negotiation – you and your spouse reach an agreement by making proposals to each and sometimes making concessions that you each feel comfortable with.
- Mediation – you instruct an independent mediator who helps you and your spouse to reach an agreement.
- Collaborative law – You each instruct your own collaborative lawyers and you all work together to reach an agreement.
- Arbitration – You instruct a lawyer or choose an arbitrator directly. The arbitrator makes a decision just like a Judge would.
We always encourage our clients to use one of these methods to reach an amicable agreement with their ex-partner. However, if an agreement isn’t possible, you will need to make an application to the court. We can do this on your behalf and we will support you throughout this process.
If necessary, we will act quickly to protect your assets if there is a risk that they will not be preserved. This could be by working with the Land Registry to secure property, by freezing assets held in bank accounts or by securing access to information that will help us maximise your financial settlement.
We will ensure you do not face an uncertain future by putting in place the required documents to avoid potential further financial claims being made against you by your spouse.
Many people believe that if they have been with their partner for a long time and they live together that they are a ‘Common Law Spouse’. However, this is a myth. Unmarried couples have no automatic legal rights and they cannot claim against one another in relation to their finances and property. To find out more, please visit our page on unmarried couples.
How our divorce solicitors can help you:
- We offer a free initial interview (subject to some restrictions) to ensure you understand all issues you will face.
- Prepare the paperwork required to finalise your divorce and to ensure any financial agreement reached is full and final.
- Our family lawyers work with you from start to finish to avoid you facing any uncertainty or risks in the future.
- Assist you in effecting changes to property arrangements, such as adding or removing a person from ownership. More information can be found on our Transfer of Equity page.
Why choose our divorce solicitors?
Our solicitors are all experts in divorce and family law. We are committed to finding the best outcome for our clients and their families. We will endeavour to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, we are expert negotiators and we will work hard to fight your corner. We are particularly experienced in helping high net worth clients, business owners and people who have internationally held assets or where a partner lives or works overseas.
We have lawyers who are trained in mediation and collaborative law. We also have experts who have been accredited by the Law Society and Resolution.
If you are interested in our divorce services, give us a call today to arrange an initial consultation with one of our specialist divorce solicitors. Call us on 01732 747900 or fill in our contact form and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible.
Divorce – Frequently Asked Questions