The legalities of divorce

March 5, 2019

Trevor Gay, family law solicitor, looks at some of the most common questions the family department at Gordon Brown Law Firm LLP (GBLF) encounters

The decision to end a marriage is often a difficult one. It is not possible to apply for a divorce unless and until the parties have been married for 12 months. An undefended divorce will usually take about six to nine months, although a substantial proportion of this time is waiting for documentation to be processed by the court.

To qualify for a divorce, you will need to prove one of five facts to show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. These are: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation for two years with your spouse’s consent, or separation for five years.

At GBLF, we understand that divorces should be handled quickly and sensitively, particularly when children are involved. To ensure that a divorce is not a drawn-out process, here are a few things to consider….

What paperwork is required?

In order to start divorce proceedings, a petition is issued at court accompanied with the marriage certificate. If you cannot locate the original marriage certificate then you can obtain a replacement original from the registry where you were married. It is possible if the marriage certificate was granted abroad that unofficial certified translation may be required.

What are the costs associated with divorce?

Solicitors’ costs for acting for the person issuing the proceedings, known as the petitioner, would normally be around £500+VAT together with the court issue fee of £550.

It is possible to apply for a reduction or even a remission of the court fee. This is dependent upon the income and capital of the petitioner and the limit will from time to time vary.

Who pays for the divorce, in the long run, may depend upon the fact being relied on to prove that the marriage is at an end. If a petition is issued
as a result of adultery or unreasonable behaviour then the petition will usually contain a request that the respondent, the receiving party, be asked to pay. Initially, the party issuing the petition will be required to meet any costs on an upfront basis.

Can you explain a divorce which involves a third party?

If a divorce is issued following an incident of adultery, it is not encouraged to name the other person involved unless a claim for costs against them is necessary and appropriate.

What are matrimonial finances?

Once granted, the decree absolute only dissolves the marriage. It does not deal with the division of matrimonial resources. This would potentially leave the parties open to a claim being made in the future as the court has not dismissed the parties’ claims against each other. This is true even if the parties have reached an agreement and sold joint property.

If an agreement can be reached, this can be reflected in a consent order otherwise, if mediation is deemed unsuitable, the court may have to adjudicate. It is still necessary to consider the income, capital and any pension provision of both parties and how the resources are to be shared.

In the event that matters are agreed and neither party wishes to make a claim against the other, then it can be sensible to get a clean break order dismissing each party’s future claims.

What to do if you receive divorce papers in the post…

If you are served with a petition, you should complete the acknowledgement of service form and return to the court.

It is important, however, to seek legal advice before doing so. If you fail to respond, a bailiff may be instructed to personally serve you.

Gordon Brown Law Firm
For more advice on divorce, contact the GBLF team on: 0191 388 1778

*Advertising feature.

Scroll to next article
Go to

Five reasons why you should use your ISA allowance