Relationship Breakdown, Separation and Divorce

We know that divorce and separation can be stressful. We can help you through that process from start to finish. From dealing with immediate issues, such as arrangements for children and how bills will be met whilst finances are divided through to advising you on how to manage the assets and income that you retain post-divorce.

We can help with:

  • Breakdown of a cohabiting relationship
  • The divorce process: formally ending your marriage
  • Cashflow issues whilst divorce is ongoing
  • Financial settlement following divorce
  • Managing your finances and investing your assets post-divorce


Frequently Asked Questions

The ‘quickie’ answer is no.

Whilst there are often reports of celebrities gaining a ‘quickie’ divorce, the situation is not as simple as is often portrayed in the media.

There is a compulsory period of reflection of 20 weeks between the date of the initial divorce application and the first order, known as the conditional order.

The couple will still be married when the conditional order is made.

Six weeks after the conditional order is made, the applicant (i.e. the person who initiated the divorce proceedings) or both parties jointly (if they joint applied for the divorce) can apply for the final order. It is also possible for one of the parties to a joint application to continue the application on a sole basis.

From the date of the final order, the parties are no longer married, and are free to remarry.

Where there has been a sole application, the respondent (the other party to the divorce) can apply for the final order three months after the six weeks date. The procedure for a respondent to apply is more complicated, and requires a formal court application and the approval of a judge. This is a longer and more expensive process than an application by a petitioner which is a short form and the final order is then issued by the court staff within a few days of receipt of the form.

It is usual, however, for parties to wait until a court order which confirms the financial split to be obtained before a final order is sought. This is to preserve claims by one spouse against the other’s estate in the event of their death before a financial order is made. If a final order is made and no financial order is in place, the survivor’s claims against the deceased ex-spouse’s estate will be far more limited, and may be non-existent.

As there is a compulsory period of at least 26 weeks between the date of the divorce application and the final order which ends the marriage, it is clear that there is no such thing as a “quickie divorce”.

We would recommend reviewing your Will as soon as you separate rather than waiting for the divorce to finalise.

If your current Will gives your estate to your spouse, this would fail once the divorce is completed and your Will would instead be read as if they had died before you.

However, this would not apply during the separation proceedings and so you may wish to put a new Will in place removing your spouse immediately to ensure they would not inherit in the event of your death.

It is likely that you would also wish to review the executors in your Will (and possibly guardians) if your circumstances have changed, as you may no longer wish to appoint the same people as in your previous Will.

If your children are not yet old enough to inherit, then you can choose who you would like to manage your assets on their behalf, this would not need to be your former spouse.

We can also amend ownership of your home as part of putting a new Will in place if necessary, to ensure this does not automatically pass to your spouse but instead passes according to your Will.

You do not need to inform anyone that you are changing your Will and you can change your Will as many times as you wish to, so we would recommend putting an interim Will in place immediately, and reviewing this regularly to ensure your wishes are met on your death and you can provide for your loved ones effectively.

While a divorce application can be made online and the papers sent to the respondent via email, the court will still expect the respondent to be sent notice of the application to their home address.

It is possible to ask the court to dispense with the need to send notice of the divorce by post, and simply to send the divorce application by email.

What happens if you do not have an email address or a home address for your spouse?

It may be possible to ask the court to dispense with the need to send a copy of the divorce application by email or post, but the court will expect you to have made all reasonable attempts to locate your ex so that they can be served (i.e provided with) all of the divorce papers and have a chance to respond.

You will need to provide the court with your ex’s last known address. If you think that they are no longer at that address, you should make enquiries with your ex’s friends or family to try to locate an alternative address.

If you are still unable to find their address, you can engage the services of a tracing agent or private investigator to track their whereabouts.

If you know where your spouse works, or can show that your ex is in contact with relatives (and can prove their address) then the court may allow you to substitute service at their residential address in this way. It can be helpful to have a statement from a private investigator to confirm where your ex works or that they have contact with relatives.

If your ex last lived in the UK, it is also possible to apply to the court for HMRC to disclose their address. You will need to provide your ex’s date of birth, national insurance number (if you have it) and your ex’s last known address. HMRC will then send the address, if they have it, to the court and the court will send the divorce papers to your ex. If your ex does not respond, the divorce will proceed without their consent.

As a last resort, you can apply to the court to dispense with service (i.e to remove the need for your ex to be provided with the court documents) but must show that you have taken all reasonable steps such as those already mentioned to locate your spouse. The divorce can then proceed as normal.

Progressing a divorce if you do not know where your ex lives is slightly more complicated, but it is achievable. We can help to guide you through the progress as smoothly as possible.

A sworn translation is a certified official translation of any document. The sworn official translation holds the same validity held by the original document in the country in which it was issued.

Sworn Translators appointed by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation are the only translators who can produce official translations which will be recognised and accepted by any country.

The official translation into Spanish of the Child Arrangement Order in English needs to be submitted to the relevant authorities in Spain to prove the agreements between the parents regarding residence, contact, holiday periods and living costs in respect of the children.

If the court has also passed a consent order and this refers to any arrangements regarding the children, an official translation into Spanish of the consent order must be submitted as well.

If the parents were married, the official translation into Spanish of the decree absolute should be submitted as well. The documents in English may need to be apostilled (legalised) by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK.

It's very difficult when one party in a relationship announces that they want to move on and start their own life without you. Aside from the shock, hurt and the feeling that you 'do not know your other half anymore', where does it leave you?

Your partner had probably decided some time ago that the relationship was over. This means that in their mind, the plans have been made and that is what's going to happen.

However, it's not that simple financially. The leaving party must make sure that the 'status quo' of the relationship is maintained.

This means that if they leave the home, or there are two separate households, there is an ongoing duty to maintain the non-working person. This often happens when one party is bringing up the children.

As you are financially dependent, then the assumption remains that - until everything is sorted (kids, housing, pensions and maintenance) - there is still a duty to provide for you.

There are always options available and the law will do what it can to protect the vulnerable.

Please call us for a chat or fill in our online enquiry form, and we will help to carry you through these difficult times, whatever your situation is.

While many parties manage to negotiate a settlement without court involvement, it is sensible to consider what the court would do, and to use that as a ‘benchmark’ for voluntary discussions.

The court would consider all the circumstances, with the first consideration being given to the needs of any children of the family. The court would also consider the following factors:

  • The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including (in the case of earning capacity) any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire
  • The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage
  • The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage
  • Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage
  • The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family. There is no distinction between the 'breadwinner' and the 'stay at home parent'
  • The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it
  • The value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the divorce, that party will lose the chance of acquiring.

It is not necessarily the case that assets will be split equally. Even where an equal split is appropriate, advice needs to be taken as to how that split is achieved.

For example, will all assets and pensions be divided equally, or should one party receive more of the assets and the other more of the pensions?

It might be that one party takes the majority of the assets, with a view to using them to meet their outgoings, leaving the other free to earn and retain their income free of a maintenance claim.

Broadly speaking, in a very short, childless marriage, each party will be likely to take from the marriage what they each brought into it. This may alter when the factors above are applied. The longer the marriage, and where there are children, the more likely it is that the settlement will be based on what party needs. This will depend on how much each party needs to rehouse, and the amount that they can obtain as a mortgage.

As the parameters for outcome are wide because of the court’s discretion and the factors taken into consideration, it is sensible to take legal advice before you have any discussions with your ex about the financial split upon your divorce.

Sadly, relationship breakdown can be one of the consequences of significant personal injury.

Any personal injury award that has been made will be in the ‘financial pot’ to be divided upon divorce. Potentially, a personal injury award can be divided in the same way as any other asset that belongs to the couple, such as the family home.

The recipient of a personal injury award is more likely to be able to retain it where there are other assets sufficient to meet the other spouse’s needs (such as a house).

Where there are insufficient assets to meet both spouse’s needs, the court will have to balance the needs of both spouses.

The injured spouse may have continuing care or treatment costs, or may not be able to earn enough income to meet their outgoings. The other spouse may remain the primary carer of children and need suitable housing. It can be difficult for all of those costs to be covered from the available ‘pot’.

In some cases, the court has awarded that some of the personal injury award should be used to purchase a property for the other spouse whilst the children are young. The property is sold when the children reach adulthood, and the personal injury award money is returned to the injured spouse at that point and can then used to meet their future needs.

This allows both spouses needs to be met at the appropriate times.

Individuals that have received a personal injury award should consider entering into a pre-marital agreement (a ‘prenup’) before they marry (or a post-marital agreement if they are already married when they receive a personal injury award), to protect the award as far as possible in the event of future divorce.

Separation or divorce is difficult enough, especially if there are money issues and children.

For couples who have pets who are very much seen as part of the family, there can also be issues finding a way forward that suits both the parties and the animal.

Unfortunately, the law does not treat animals as anything other than objects or chattels that are ‘owned possessions’. This is why you may have heard stories of police dog handlers petitioning to have these loyal workers recognised in the law as anything other than a ‘chattel’.

Thankfully, the judiciary has moved on, and even though the law is still restrictive, it is possible to put in contact orders that regulate who will have the family pet and when.

Hurt people are not always at their best, and we have faced circumstances where parties have requested that the animal be put to sleep rather than let the other party have them.

Good solicitors will work together in finding a solution to make sure that both parties and the furry family member can navigate an appropriate way forward.

It depends on the status of your relationship.

If you are married to your spouse but you are not named on the Land Registry title register, it is possible to put a ‘home right’ on the title register. Not only will this enable you to remain living at the property, but it will also prevent your partner from being able to sell or mortgage the property without your prior knowledge.

This can be very useful if there is a risk that the property will be sold or mortgaged, and that the proceeds could be dissipated by your spouse before a financial agreement has been reached.

The situation is much more difficult if you are not married. If you have children, you may be able to make a claim on behalf of the children (but not yourself) for housing. This might include the right to stay in the family home or another property. You may also be able to obtain a lump sum to be used to meet your housing needs and for other reasons such as the purchase of a car or school fees. These claims can only be made for the benefit of a child, and not for yourself.

Technically if you are unmarried and do not have children, then you do not have a right of occupation in your partner’s home, but we may be able to help negotiate a position that could see you remain living in the home for at least a short period whilst you make alternative arrangements. If there was an agreement between you and your ex-partner that you would have an interest in the property then it may be that you are entitled to a payment in respect of the equity.

In all instances, it is important that legal advice is taken early on.

As the law stands, there is a presumption that an engagement ring is an absolute gift, which means that it is then the property of the person receiving the ring. It does not matter which party called off the engagement.

However, that presumption can be rebutted if there is evidence that the gifting of the ring was conditional upon the marriage taking place. If the ring has a particular sentimental value or is a family heirloom, the giver of the ring may be able to demonstrate that the gifting of the ring was conditional upon the marriage taking place.

It is possible for parties to enter into an agreement as to what should happen to the ring if the marriage does not take place. This may be a difficult but important conversation to have.

If one party is keen to retain the ring if the couple marries but later divorce, that could be agreed in a prenup.

Leave It To Us...

For more information on divorce and separation and to find out how we can help you, please contact us on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.

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