What a Divorce Solicitor Should be able to tell You

When you first visit a solicitor to ask for help and advice regarding your divorce, there are a number of things that your advisor should be able to tell you. A good solicitor will inform you about divorce and the divorce process. Most people are quite confused when there marriage breaks down and unsure what to expect. A good solicitor should be able to explain things for you and put your mind at rest with regard to fault in divorce and giving evidence in court.

Under the law in both England and Wales you need to have been married for at least a year before you can apply for a divorce. Despite what you may read on the news or see on television, in the UK there is really only one ground for divorce and that is referred to as the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. You can make a statement that your marriage has irretrievably broken down if you can provide evidence or spousal admission of any of the following:

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Adultery
  • Two years separation
  • Desertion
  • Five years separation – if you have been separated for five years then the divorce can go ahead without the consent of your spouse.

Your solicitor will tell you what constitutes unreasonable behaviour in the eyes of the court. The fact is that nowadays the courts take a broad view of what constitutes unreasonable behaviour. A judge takes many things into consideration when he decides whether a marriage has irretrievably broken down. Most people regard unreasonable behaviour as violent but this is no longer the case. Although violence is included in the list of unreasonable behaviours, the court admits emotional and mental abuse under that category. Some people prefer to obtain a divorce through separation, while others who don’t want to drag out the proceedings for another two years opt for a quick divorce. Most people get a quick divorce on the basis that their relationship has irretrievably broken down. If there are no children involved in a divorce then the parties will not have to go to court. Once a couple has signed the papers the court will usually grant the divorce after a cooling off period, the decree nisi of six weeks or so.

If there are children from the marriage and the two partners have trouble making a decision on residency and contact, then either your solicitor or the judge may recommend mediation. While mediation works in many cases to resolve these disputes there are times when communication has broken down and one partner wants what the other will not give. In cases where a couple cannot agree, the issue may be referred to a family court. When there is property involved or one partner is asking for maintenance from the other, it is much better if this can be ironed out and stated in the divorce filing. If there are arguments over who gets what, then this will involve further legal proceedings which could prove expensive. Your solicitor will explain these things to you at the outset so that you know exactly what to expect from the divorce process.