The law concerning marriage break down or divorce is complex and no two cases involve precisely the same issues. Our specialist family lawyer will explain the legal technicalities that apply in your own case and will do everything possible to minimise any stress and ensure that the formalities proceed smoothly.
What Are Your Options?
You may already have decided that a divorce is the only solution to your marriage breakdown. If you are not entirely certain about this, there are alternatives you may wish to consider.
A Separation Agreement
If you and your spouse feel that a period of separation would help you both to decide the future of your marriage, and if you can work out together the practical solutions involved, you can both sign a separation agreement which would record the fact that you have agreed to live apart and example, any financial arrangements that you agree. In the event of a reconciliation, the separation agreement would lapse. If there were to be a final breakdown of the marriage, it could be superseded by any terms agreed or fixed by the Court, within the divorce.
Magistrates Court Procedure
Although a Magistrates Court does not have jurisdiction to bring a marriage to an end, it does have the power to award maintenance for a spouse or in certain circumstances to order the payment of a lump sum.
This arrangement is similar to a divorce but without the same finality; a Judicial Separation combines the procedure of a divorce with the effect of a separation agreement. It is sometimes preferred by people who may for moral or religious reasons not wish to become involved in full divorce proceedings as such.
The time taken to obtain a divorce depends very much on the approach of the two parties involved, if both parties agree that they want to divorce and are able to co-operate, the Decree Nisi can often be obtained within four months of the date on which the Petition was filed, and the Decree Absolute granted within six weeks after that- a period o around six months. If, however, there are arguments or disputes the process can take considerably longer. In the case of defended divorce, for example, there is normally a delay of up to a year or more. A period of separation of two or more years may be necessary before the petition can be presented to the Court.
The general principle will be that the parents will continue to be parents of the child or children without any Order being made. However, if it is necessary it will be possible for either party in the Proceedings to apply to the Court or for the Court of its own volition to make for example: Residence Order: this determines where a child will live. Contact Order: this replaces what was previously known as "access" but under this Order, the child or children may visit or stay with the person named Injunction: situations sometimes arise where one party in the marriage suffers violence or abuse of the other. In such, case the Court may be prepared to grant an injunction.
The term "Ancillary Relief" is used by lawyers to cover all the financial/property matters which are normally dealt with at the same time as a divorce. These include maintenance payments, lump sum payments by one party to another, questions as to who will live in the matrimonial home whether ownership of the house should be transferred and other issues which may be important to the parties.
Our specialist lawyers explain to you the legal and financial aspects of a divorce or separation and can provide advice on the implications for: Pensions Tax Your Will
From the outset, we will be happy to advise you as to what the likely costs will be. It is our aim to provide you with quality legal services at fees which are both fair and reasonable.
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