Begin the divorce process prepared and informed


Experts in divorce

With our expertise, you can navigate the complexities of divorce, protecting your family, your finances and your future.

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Photo of Leah Ellis, Associate at Giles Wilson
Photo of Melissa Leyland, Solicitor at Giles Wilson
What is divorce

What is divorce?

A divorce is the permanent end of a marriage in the eyes of the law. Also referred to as a dissolution of a marriage, this legal process allows a marriage to break up before the death of either spouse, extending to opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples (with the legalisation of gay marriage in 2014).

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How many marriages end in divorce?

According to the most recent survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics in 2012, approximately 42% of marriages end in divorce, with half of these taking place within the first 10 years of marriage.

2017 saw 101,669 divorces of opposite-sex couples and 338 divorces of same-sex couples, with the most common reason behind these being unreasonable behaviour.

How long must I wait before I can get a divorce?

In England and Wales you need to have been in a legally recognised marriage for at least one year before you can apply for a divorce, and your relationship needs to have permanently broken down. Of course, if relying on desertion or separation, you’ll need to wait between 2 and 5 years to file for divorce.

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What is the role of a divorce solicitor?

Popular TV dramas like The Split have presented the role of divorce lawyers as very glamorous and impassioned. In reality, our divorce solicitors based in Essex spend most of their day working through piles of documents, or calmly acting as an advisor to help clients amicably agree on their financial deal or child arrangements.

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How do you file for divorce

How do you file for divorce?

The actual process of filing for a divorce can be fairly straightforward – handling the financial arrangements is the more taxing part of the process. Here, our divorce solicitors give you a step-by-step guide to applying for a divorce in England. Again, it is advisable to always consult a specialist solicitor before embarking on a court process of this nature.

What paperwork is required to apply for divorce?

Before applying for a divorce, you need to make sure you have your husband/wife’s full name and current address, your original marriage certificate (or a certified copy) and proof of your name change if you’ve changed it since getting married.

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What if my spouse tries to prevent the divorce?

If your husband or wife does not intend to prevent the divorce from taking place, this is referred to as an uncontested divorce, which makes the process far more straightforward.

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What is a decree nisi and a decree absolute?

Should your husband or wife not defend the divorce, or a Court agrees you can proceed with a contested divorce, you can apply for a Decree Nisi. This document essentially states that the Court has no reason why you cannot get divorced from your spouse.

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Making child arrangements when getting divorced

Supporting the best interests of children during divorce proceedings is as important to the Courts as it is for parents. This can make determining these arrangements during divorce a contentious subject, but with effective guidance from one of our divorce solicitors, this can be navigated smoothly.

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Do I need a solicitor for a divorce?

There are two aspects to obtaining a divorce: the process of filing for divorce, and settling the financial arrangements between you and your soon-to-be former spouse.

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Who gets what in a divorce

Who gets what in a divorce?

Even if both parties getting divorced are in agreement that the marriage should break up, finding common ground on its terms can be more difficult to achieve. As divorce solicitors, the question of who gets what in a divorce is one that can cause emotions to run high and relationships to be strained, and it is where we offer the most critical support and advice to help achieve the best results for our clients and the situation in general.

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What am I entitled to in a divorce settlement?

There is no hard and fast answer to this question. However, one thing you should be aware of immediately is that a divorce settlement is rarely a 50/50 split. While this is often the starting point a Judge will take, numerous factors will be considered that affect this outcome.

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How are financial obligations determined in a divorce?

Typically, a divorce solicitor will break down the finances of you and your spouse into 3 distinct areas:

  1. Capital value (properties, shares, savings, assets, etc.)
  2. Pension value or other “future” assets
  3. Income

Once your solicitor has the above information and has considered the Section 25 factors in your case, it is possible to discuss who ends up with what at the end of the marriage.

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What if we don't agree on our financial obligations?

If you and your partner cannot reach an agreement over your financial situation, you can apply to the Court for a Financial Order. This can help you receive lump sum payments, ownership of a property, maintenance payments, pension shares and more as determined by what the Court deems fair. This process could take between 6 and 12 months, including attendance at several Court hearings.

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How is a house divided in a divorce?

If your husband or wife is the sole owner of the property, it is important that you register an interest in it to protect your position during a divorce. As long as your home is registered with the Land Registry, you can apply for a “Matrimonial Homes Notice” or “Home Rights Notice”. Once registered, you have protection in the home and it cannot be sold without your knowledge of it. It is very sensible to take legal advice from a specialist solicitor on this important issue, so that you fully understand the nuances of what is involved.

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Divorce and maintenance payments

When dealing with matrimonial finances, a divorce settlement can consist of maintenance. In these situations, both child maintenance and spousal maintenance may be appropriate.

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How to protect your pension in a divorce

Pensions are often a notable asset that will often be divided as part of the divorce process. In England and Wales, the Courts take into account the total value of both your and your spouse’s pensions when considering how this should be divided, not just the value of the pension that was accrued while you were married.

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Changing your will after getting divorced

It is advised that, once you have divorced, you update your will to reflect this major life change. Many people will usually list their spouse as a beneficiary, trustee or executor of their will during the marriage. Once your Decree Absolute is confirmed, they will no longer be able to benefit or execute the terms of the will without this being expressed in a new will.

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Achieving a finality in divorce proceedings

Above all else, it is crucial to secure a Financial Consent Order, approved by the Court, preferably before obtaining the Decree Absolute. Unless this is done and covers all aspects of your finances and property, your ex-spouse can make a claim at any time in the future (save in certain circumstances), even against your estate if you pass away before them.

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How long does a divorce take

How long does a divorce take?

One of the most common questions asked about the divorce process is how long will it take to complete. This is understandable – it is likely a very emotional and challenging time for all involved, and most seeking a divorce would like to come to a conclusion as quickly as possible.

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How much does a divorce cost

How much does a divorce cost?

Right alongside how long a divorce will take in people’s minds is how much will it cost. It is hard to quantify an exact figure of how much divorce costs as it depends on how complex it proves to be.

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How to dissolve a civil partnership

How to dissolve a civil partnership

It is similar in many respects to the stages of divorce outlined above. It essentially breaks down to two key aspects – applying for the dissolution of your partnership and confirming the financial arrangements for you and your partner once the dissolution is finalised.

Here we will outline the steps involved in a civil partnership dissolution, pinpoint any areas that differ from divorce, and give an idea of the time it takes and the costs involved.

What does a civil partnership dissolution mean?

Civil partnership is another way to legalise a relationship between a couple for those not wanting marriage. These were originally established to give same-sex couples essentially the same rights and responsibilities of opposite-sex married couples before the legalisation of gay marriage in 2014.

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How to apply for a civil partnership dissolution

Like a divorce, someone can only apply for a civil partnership dissolution after a year of being in the partnership. Furthermore, like a divorce you will need to discuss with your partner any arrangements over finances, children and property as part of the process, ensuring these are confirmed before it officially dissolves.

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Who gets what when a civil partnership dissolves?

The process of arranging settlements for finances, property and children when it dissolves follows the same lines as a divorce. The Courts may take the same starting position of a 50/50 split, but again this often doesn’t end up being the case.

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How long does a civil partnership take to dissolve?

As with divorce, how long it takes for a partnership to dissolve depends largely on whether both parties agree to the partnership ending and how long it takes to find common ground over child arrangements, financial arrangements and other details affecting both partners.

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How much does a civil partnership dissolution cost?

The cost of a dissolution will depend largely on the length of time it takes to conclude, the complexity of the situation and the professional support you require during the process and with your financial negotiations.

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Awards & Recognitions

The expertise of our solicitors is regularly recognised by some of the profession’s most distinguished organisations. As well as being a member of a number of Law Society schemes, we have won awards at the Law Society Excellence Awards, the Halsbury Legal Awards and the Modern Law Awards.

We have also received recognition in the form of the Lexcel mark of quality, a Legal 500 listing and a place on the shortlist of The Lawyer’s Boutique Firm of the Year.

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When to report a solicitor to the SRA

If you have complained to your solicitor about breaching the SRA Code of Conduct and are not satisfied with their response, you can report them to the SRA. Examples of a breach include:

  • Dishonesty
  • Fraud
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When to contact the Legal Ombudsman

If you have complained to your solicitor about poor service and you are not satisfied with their response, you can contact the Legal Ombudsman who deal with poor service, such as:

  • Delayed or unclear communication
  • Problems with your bill
  • Loss of documents