Finding yourself needing a divorce lawyer to progress with the dissolution of your marriage can be bewildering and daunting, regardless of fault or blame. There is so much to think about from property to financial affairs, let alone the factor of any children that may also be involved. Appointing a divorce lawyer to support and guide you through this time will help you to learn where you stand and what you are both entitled to and accountable for.
Using an amicable and non-confrontational approach, Morlings Solicitors family law specialists are here to navigate you through the divorce process and work to reach agreement on any issues that need to be resolved before the final termination of the marriage is granted.
We have strong skills in mediation and collaborative law, with specific expertise in matters including complex financial settlements. This means we can almost always help you find a positive way forward for your divorce, allowing you to resolve practical issues such as arrangements for children and achieving financial security without the need for court proceedings.
Our approachable legal experts are here to make your divorce as simple and stress-free as possible, saving you time, money and unnecessary conflict while making sure you are able to move on with your life in the right way for you and your loved ones.
Book a fixed cost initial consultation with our divorce solicitors in Maidstone
Pengelly & Rylands, Stephens & Son and Bailey & Cogger law firms are also now incorporated by Hatten Wyatt, meaning you can also access our divorce law expertise through our other local offices in Chatham, Tonbridge and Tenterden.
We can also offer meetings by Skype for clients who have to travel extensively or who now live abroad. In exceptional circumstances, home visits can also be arranged.
How we can help you through the divorce process
Our divorce lawyers in Maidstone can:
- check that you are eligible to apply for a divorce and advise you on how to obtain a legal separation should the eligibility criteria not be met
- complete all necessary paperwork
- work to reach a suitable arrangement between you both where there are children to be considered, for example custody and financial provisions
- help you to apply for a parental responsibility order where you have no legal rights in respect of a child you have cared for
- help you to sort out financial matters and to resolve property disputes
- advise you on making a will or updating an existing will in which your spouse may be mentioned
- liaise with pension providers when there are issues around entitlement to split pension benefits
- represent your interest should any aspect of your divorce result in a hearing before the courts
We can also offer signposting to support systems should either party be involved in domestic violence or abuse.
Taking a non-confrontational approach to divorce
Mediation is the most common way of dealing with practical issues surrounding divorce and separation, such as making arrangements for children and financial settlements. It offers a non-confrontational alternative to court proceedings where you are in control of the outcome.
The process involves you and your spouse/partner having a series of meetings (usually three to five) with a trained mediator to discuss any issues you need to resolve and agree solutions. The mediator acts as a neutral third-party to guide the process and defuse any potential for conflict.
Mediation is usually much faster and less costly than court proceedings, while helping to keep things amicable between you and your spouse/partner, which can be especially beneficial where you have children together.
This is a popular alternative to mediation that can be suitable where there are more complex issues to sort out. Like mediation, the focus is on you and your spouse/partner agreeing the practical details of your separation, but unlike with mediation, you each have your own legal representative with you during the process to offer support and guidance.
Collaborative law takes place over a series of four-way ‘round the table’ meetings, with you, your spouse and your respective lawyers (who must be trained in collaborative law). You can also have other professional experts, such as accountants and financial advisers, sitting in on the process if required.
While collaborative law is usually more expensive than mediation, it is still normally much less costly and far faster than court proceedings. Having your own legal adviser on hand can also give you the confidence to deal with more challenging issues, such as complex financial matters, that might be harder to resolve through mediation.
Our divorce law pricing
Fixed cost initial appointment
We offer an initial appointment to discuss your requirements from £100 plus VAT.
Fixed fee divorce
Some aspects of divorce can be handled on a fixed fee basis e.g. preparing and submitting your divorce petition or applying for a decree absolute. This gives you clarity over the costs involved.
Other matters may be dealt with on the basis of an agreed hourly rate. This means you will be paying for the exact amount of time spent dealing with your divorce, while getting exactly as much support as you need.
Legal aid for divorce
Legal aid may also be available in certain cases and is normally always available for defending care proceedings and taking steps to protect against domestic violence or child abuse.
Why choose Morlings Solicitors for your divorce?
Our highly experienced Family Law team in Maidstone are accredited by the Law Society for Family Law and Family Law Advanced, reflecting our specialist expertise in areas including divorce, financial settlements and arrangements for children.
The team is led by Avril Croud, a family lawyer with more than 30 years’ experience helping people through divorce and separation. A member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel and the family law support network Resolution, Avril offers exceptional legal expertise and empathetic personal support.
Also key to our Family Law team are Deborah Nicholson and Laura Hails. A Resolution accredited specialist and trained collaborative lawyer, Deborah has over 30 years’ experience in family law, while Laura is an accredited with the family law support group Resolution.
We can also offer the services of our Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accredited Residential Property team for any property issues involved with your divorce or separation, such as buying or selling a home, transfer of equity and remortgaging.
How do you file for divorce?
To get a divorce, either you or your former partner must submit a divorce petition to court setting out your reasons for wanting the divorce. The court will then send the petition to your partner and they will be given time to either accept or object to the divorce or your reasons. If they accept, the court will likely approve the divorce, however, if they object you may have to go to court to argue your case. In our experience, it is very rare for someone to object to a divorce petition.
Alongside the divorce petition, you must also work out how you will divide and arrange your finances and sort out arrangements for your children, for example, where they will live most of the time. This is separate to the process of applying for divorce.
What are the grounds for divorce?
There is really only one ground for divorce – the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship. Whoever applies for the divorce must provide reasons to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. There are five reasons or ‘facts’ that you can rely on:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Desertion for at least two years
- Separation for at least two years where both parties consent to the divorce
- Separation for at least five years, no consent needed
If your partner agrees to the divorce, the judge Is likely to approve the divorce. However, if your partner does not agree to the divorce or your reasons, you will likely have to prove them in court.
Do you have to have a reason to divorce?
At the moment you have to provide at least one reason to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. However, the law was recently changed and from autumn 2021, couples will be allowed to get a divorce without having to show a reason. This process is called no-fault divorce.
Because most divorces are not contested, it will usually not be worth waiting for no-fault divorce to come in. However, if you are concerned that your partner will object, we can provide practical advice about whether it is worth applying for divorce now or waiting for no-fault divorce.
What is the most common reason for divorce?
Unreasonable behaviour is the most common ground for divorce in England and Wales. To get a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, you must show that your partner has behaved in such an unreasonable way that you cannot tolerate living with them any longer. You will need to provide examples of the unreasonable behaviour and how it made you feel. Examples of unreasonable behaviour could include:
- Working excessive hours
- Spending no time together
- Verbal abuse such as shouting
- Lack of emotional support
- Financial dependency
- Debt problems or financial recklessness
- Gambling problems
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Domestic violence
What happens in a divorce if you commit adultery?
The reason for your divorce will not usually affect the outcome, including the financial settlement or where your children will live/how often you can see them.
Does it matter who applies for the divorce?
The person who applies for divorce is called the petitioner or the applicant. The person who receives the divorce application is called the respondent.
Usually, it does not matter who applies for the divorce because the reasons provided will not affect the outcome. However, you may prefer to be the petitioner if you would like more control over the process. For example, it is usually the petitioner who applies for the decree absolute. The respondent cannot apply for the decree absolute until three months after the first date when the petitioner could have applied.
Do you have to go to court to get a divorce?
With our support and guidance, it is unlikely you will need to go to court. Usually, we can help individuals resolve any disputes constructively between themselves or using methods of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or collaborative law. However, in those cases where agreement is not possible, it may be necessary to apply for court, for example, for a financial order or a decision about children.
How long does a divorce take?
On average, it takes around four to six months to get a divorce. However, there are many factors that can impact how long a divorce takes, such as how complicated your finances are or the level of cooperation from your former partner.
There are also minimum lengths of time between each stage of the divorce process. For example, you must wait six weeks and one day after receiving the decree nisi (conditional divorce order) before you can apply for the decree absolute (final divorce order).
What am I entitled to in the divorce?
Any division of assets upon divorce must be fair, even if you have a prenuptial agreement in place. Deciding what is fair depends on multiple factors, such as:
- Each party’s financial resources and needs
- The needs of any children
- Each party’s income and earning capacity
- How long the parties have been married and their ages
- Each party’s contributions to the marriage including non-financial contributions
- Any physical or mental disability
- Any benefits either party will lose after the divorce, such as pension entitlements
Depending on the circumstances, the final split may not be 50-50. Additionally, it may be appropriate to put a spousal maintenance agreement in place to ensure both parties have an acceptable standard of living after the divorce is finalised.
For more information, visit our Financial Arrangements page.
Who gets custody of the children upon divorce?
Lawyers and family judges no longer use the word custody when helping divorcing couples make arrangements for children of the divorce. However, it is still necessary to work out where your children will live, how much time they will spend with each parent, and other key decisions about their upbringing.
Any decision about children should be made with their best interests in mind. What is best for your children will depend on your individual circumstances and we can help you work through these issues with your former partner in a warm, friendly environment.
For more information, visit our Children Law page.
Do I need a solicitor to get a divorce?
While a DIY divorce might be tempting to save money, it could actually cause you more problems in the long run. As well as the actual process of ending your marriage, you need to untangle all the other threads of your life, including finances and making arrangements for children. Sorting these matters out properly during the divorce process is essential to save you time and stress later on.
For example, even if you have simple finances it is important to reach a divorce financial settlement or obtain a financial order from court otherwise you will still be financially connected to your former partner. The decree absolute does not sever your financial obligations, so if you do not sort finances out during the divorce process your former partner could make a financial claim against you in the future. While this might not be a problem now, what if you receive a large inheritance or win the lottery?
A solicitor will help you sort out all of these matters so that once the divorce is finalised you can move on with your life with peace of mind.