Divorce and Separation

We will take you through the legal aspects of divorce with sensitivity and expertise, making it as straightforward and swift as possible; along the way we will resolve any financial and property issues that arise and reach a settlement that is right for you.

Our team will be on hand to support and advise you and pride themselves on being extremely accessible to their clients.

Why come to Newtons specialist divorce and family solicitors?

Emotions run high when a marriage is in turmoil or breaks down. All of our divorce and family law specialists have many years helping clients who may be feeling upset, angry and confused. Our main focus is to put you at ease, discuss your situation and plan the best outcome for you.

We have offices across Yorkshire, Teesside and County Durham including; Knaresborough, Harrogate, York, Ripon,  Darlington, Richmond, Stokesley, Beverley, Northallerton,  Thirsk, Durham and Stockton.

What should I do next?

It is always better to seek help from a family solicitor sooner rather than later if you feel that you need to discuss divorce or separation from your spouse. Our family law team offer a free initial consultation so that you can explain your situation and we can advise you of the best course of action for you.

What will happen at that first consultation?

During your first meeting with one of our divorce and family solicitors, we will discuss why your relationship has broken down, if you have any children, your initial thoughts about the future and about your income, savings, pensions and assets. We will then discuss with you the best way forward to achieve the best possible outcome for you. Sometimes divorce might not be the route that you want to take and separation may be a preferred route for you.

What if I want to separate from my spouse?

If a relationship has broken down but you are not certain if it is permanent, you might want to explore separation. Our divorce and family law solicitors will offer you practical solutions and advice in reaching agreement with your spouse about your children, your property, income and pensions. If at some stage you decide that divorce is the right option for you, agreements made during separation can form the basis of discussions moving forward.

I want to arrange an initial free consultation. What should I do?

You can contact any of our divorce and family law solicitors through the Family Law’ section of the website by phone or email, alternatively, you can email us here info@newtons.co.uk and a member of our divorce and family law team will be in touch. We have offices across Yorkshire and the North East, including; Knaresborough, Harrogate, York, Ripon, Leyburn, Darlington, Richmond, Stokesley, Northallerton and Thirsk.

Further information and key terms that may be used in relation to divorce and separation

Please also see our Frequently Asked Questions section below.

What is a Decree Nisi?

Once the divorce petition has been acknowledged and agreed by your spouse, a judge will review all the documentation to ensure that there are proper grounds for divorce.  If the judge is satisfied, a Decree Nisi will be granted.

What is a Decree Absolute?

The final stage of a divorce is when the Decree Absolute is granted.

Being granted a Decree Absolute means that you are no longer married and are free to re-marry.  An application for a Decree Absolute can be made six weeks and one day from the date of the Decree Nisi.

The 5 grounds for divorce

Adultery

Divorce proceedings can be issued if your spouse has committed adultery. However, you cannot ‘suspect’ that adultery has taken place even if your spouse has begun a new relationship. If you intend to cite adultery in divorce proceedings, it is advisable that your spouse openly admits adultery before divorce proceedings are issued.

Unreasonable behaviour

Unreasonable behaviour is the most common reason for divorce.

You can cite unreasonable behaviour in a divorce petition if you feel that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her.

Two years’ separation with consent

If you have lived continuously apart from your spouse for two years or more, you can issue divorce proceedings on the grounds of ‘Two years of separation with consent’. The consent of your spouse is needed to issue divorce proceedings.

Desertion

You can issue divorce proceedings on the grounds of desertion if your spouse has ‘deserted’ you for two years or more. Desertion as a grounds for divorce is not often used.

Five years’ separation

If you have lived apart from your spouse continuously for five years or more, you can issue divorce proceedings. Under these circumstances you do not need the consent of your spouse.

Dissolving a civil partnership

To dissolve a civil partnership, the relationship needs to have irretrievably broken down. Dissolution proceedings cannot be issued on the grounds of adultery in civil partnerships.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need my spouse’s agreement to start divorce proceedings?

Divorce can only happen if the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To demonstrate that your marriage has irretrievably broken down you have to cite one of the following five reasons:

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Two years desertion
  4. Two years separation with consent
  5. Five years separation without consent

You only need your spouse’s consent to a divorce if you wish to cite adultery as the reason for your marriage breakdown (as your spouse has to admit to the adultery) or if you have been separated for two years with consent. Your spouse could delay proceedings by defending the divorce, this is unlikely and our family solicitors will guide and advise you as to the best course of action for you.

How long does a divorce normally take?

Assuming that both parties deal with the divorce documentation promptly and the divorce petition is not defended, the process usually takes approximately four to five months from the date the divorce petition is issued at court to the Decree Absolute.

What happens during the divorce process? Will I need to go to court?

Initially, we prepare the divorce papers and send them on to you to check and sign. When they have been returned to us, we send them to court. The court will send them to your spouse. Your spouse then has eight days to acknowledge receipt by completing an Acknowledgement of Service.

When your spouse has returned the acknowledgement and if they are not defending the divorce petition, we will make an application, on your behalf, for Decree Nisi.

If the Judge is satisfied that you have grounds for a divorce he/she will issue a certificate which will confirm the date on which Decree Nisi will be pronounced. You will not need to attend court and we will send you a copy of the Decree Nisi when it is received. You can apply for the Decree Absolute which finalises the divorce six weeks and one day after Decree Nisi.

Can I get Legal Aid for my divorce?

New regulations came into force on 1st April 2013 under the Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 which limited the scope of Legal Aid to those cases involving domestic abuse, Local Authority child protection matters, child abduction matters, forced marriage and mediation. Unless your case is one where the Local Authority have taken care and supervision proceedings or involves child abduction, Legal Aid is not granted automatically.

An applicant will need to satisfy the Legal Aid Agency they are financially eligible as only those on low income or benefits will be entitled to it. Legal Aid is no longer available for divorce, financial proceedings or an application for a Child Arrangements Order. At Newtons, we are here to help you find the most cost effective way to deal with your divorce and finances.

I have heard a lot about mediation. What is it and will it help me?

Mediation is a process by which parties try to resolve any disputes which may have arisen between them without the need to go to court. Each party is encouraged to discuss and resolve any disputes with the assistance of a trained mediator. The most common issues requiring a mediator are those relating to children and financial arrangements. If an agreement can be reached, we can prepare documentation on your behalf to ensure that the agreement becomes binding. There are other types of mediation known collectively as Alternative Dispute Resolution. Our team at Newtons can help you identify the right way for your case to be dealt with.

How will the financial aspects of my divorce be dealt with?

Both parties are under a duty to provide the other with full details of their financial circumstances. When each party has disclosed their financial circumstances, we will advise you on a financial settlement.

We negotiate with your spouse, or their solicitors, to reach an agreement which is finalised by creating a Consent Order.

If no agreement is reached, you will need to make an application to court for a Financial Remedy Order. Your case will be timetabled and you will continue to negotiate a settlement with the court’s guidance. If a settlement is not reached, your case will be listed for a Final Hearing and after hearing evidence a judge will make a Final Order.

What will I be entitled to financially?

Family law is discretionary so the outcome to your case will depend on both parties’ circumstances. When making a Financial Order, the judge has to consider the factors listed under Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. These include things such as: the ages of the parties, the length of the marriage, needs, responsibilities and earning capacity. No two cases are the same, but the aim is to achieve fairness. At Newtons, our family law solicitors will guide you and advise you on division of capital, maintenance and pension sharing so that, where possible, you can reach an agreement without the need to go to court.

Will the value of my business be taken into account as part of a divorce?

Yes, all assets are taken into account when deciding how capital should be divided between the parties.

How will my business be valued?

The value of your business may be agreed between the parties. More likely, there will be a joint expert’s report prepared by a forensic accountant.

How does a court treat the valuation of a business?

The value of a business is not the same as capital that is readily available such as savings or equity in the home. The valuation of a business acts as a guide for the court as it will be recognised that this asset is not liquid and not available as cash.

Will my business have to be sold?

No, this is extremely unlikely. In most cases the business will continue to be run by the party who owns it.

Our family law team is here to help.

Please call us to find out how we can help. We have offices across Yorkshire and the North East, including; Knaresborough, Harrogate, York, Ripon, Darlington, Richmond, Stokesley, Northallerton, Thirsk, Beverley, Durham and Stockton.  We can talk on the phone or arrange a meeting where we can discuss your options and give you a clear idea of timeframes and costs.

Alternatively, please contact us online and we’ll call you back when it’s convenient for you.