Divorce & Family

Divorce Law

Divorce can be a miserable process, but this doesn’t have to be the case. With the right legal advice and support, divorce can often be dealt with in a much more constructive and considerate manner, allowing you to make a clean break with the minimum possible stress and upset.

You know the outcome you need from your divorce – our job is to help you make that happen. Whether it’s dealing with the divorce petition, making a financial settlement or sorting out arrangements for children, we have the years of experience and specialist expertise to get everything sorted out as quickly and amicably as possible.

Most people would prefer to avoid heading to divorce court, which is something we fully understand. Our team have strong expertise in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), including mediation, so we can almost always deal with even the most complicated and contentious divorces without the need for court proceedings.

However, where going to court is necessary, we will make sure your case is prepared effectively and that you have the best available representation, so you can be confident of securing a fair outcome.

At Devereux & Co, we want to help you through what can be a tough time and see you come out the other side with everything in place for you to move forward and make the fresh start you deserve.

Get expert advice from our Bristol divorce lawyers today

For expert advice on dealing with every part of divorce and separation, please contact our local offices in Shirehampton and Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.

Have a question or need some simple advice about your divorce? Why not book an initial consultation with our friendly team

Our expertise with divorce and separation

Divorce proceedings

Whether you need to initiate divorce proceedings or respond to a divorce petition filed by your spouse, we can advise you on everything you need to do.

By making sure all paperwork is properly filled out and filed on time, we can help your divorce to go ahead faster, more smoothly and with less conflict, making the whole divorce process much easier for you.

Financial settlements

Getting a financial settlement in place is usually a key step in allowing you and your former partner to make a clean break and start living separate lives.

We can guide you through making a fair settlement that meets your needs and those of any dependants you have. This includes dealing with complex issues such as the family home, savings, investments, family businesses and pensions.

While this can usually be done through negotiation or mediation, we can also assist you with applying to a family court for a Financial Order where required.

Find out more about how we can help you with a financial settlement.

Arrangements for children

If you and your spouse have children, it is essential to sort out where they will live and what contact they will have with a non-resident parent as soon as possible to give everyone some certainty and stability.

Our Bristol divorce solicitors can help with considering all aspects of your children’s residence and upbringing, including agreeing joint residence (also sometimes referred to as ‘joint custody’) or sole residence and deciding on matters such as schooling and name changes.

We can assist with agreeing arrangements for children voluntarily where possible or applying to a court for a Child Arrangements Order where required.

Find out more about how we can help you with arrangements for children.

Our divorce fees & court costs

You deserve the very best legal advice at a fair price, so we aim to make our fees clear and transparent, so you can see exactly what costs will be involved with your divorce.

Fixed fee divorce law services

In a routine case for the Petitioner - about £550 + VAT + Court fees of £550 – the Petitioner may apply for an Order that the Respondent pays all or some of the costs; the Court’s approach is inconsistent and it is virtually impossible to predict if the application will succeed.

In a routine case for the Respondent - about £200 + VAT.

Fees for financial settlements & arrangements for children

The cost of dealing with these matters is harder to predict as the amount of work involved will depend on how easily an agreement can be reached, whether court proceedings are required and other factors.

To help you stay in control of the cost of your divorce, we will work to a set hourly rate, with all of the time we spend working on your case agreed in advance. We can also usually defer our fees until after a financial settlement has been made where this will help you.

Your questions about divorce, answered

What grounds do you need for divorce?

Technically there is only one ground for divorce: that a marriage has broken down irretrievably. This must be then established by proving one of five facts:

  1. That the other has committed adultery.
  2. That the other has behaved unreasonably.
  3. 2 years' separation at the end of which the other consents.
  4. That the other has deserted you for 2 years.
  5. 5 years' separation.

The UK government has committed to introducing so-called ‘no fault’ divorce in the near future, meaning these requirements are likely to change soon.

It is worth noting that no one can start divorce proceedings until they have been married for one year.

Does it matter what reasons you give in a divorce petition?

How you deal with your reasons for getting divorced and what you include in your divorce petition can make a big difference to how smoothly and amicably your divorce goes. Our expert divorce solicitors in Bristol can assist with this, for example:

If using adultery as the reason for your divorce, you do not have to name the third party. You can do so if you wish, but Courts discourage this and increases the likelihood of your spouse raising an objection to the petition.

If citing unreasonable behaviour in your divorce petition, we can help you to avoid unnecessary offence when drafting the allegations, which can be quite brief and simple and can be agreed by both parties in advance.

What is the process for getting a divorce?

The person who starts the divorce proceedings is called the Petitioner; the other party is called the Respondent. The court rules now refer to a 'matrimonial order' rather than a divorce; nonetheless people continue to use the old terminology.

  • The Petitioner's solicitor prepares the Divorce Petition.
  • The Court sends the Divorce Petition to the Respondent.
  • The Respondent completes the form of Acknowledgement of Service and returns it to the Court within 7 days (longer if living abroad): this is the only step the Respondent has to take.
  • The Court sends the Acknowledgement of Service to the Petitioner’s solicitor who prepares a statement in support of the Petitioner’s application for the Decree Nisi.
  • The Petitioner signs the statement and sends it to the Court.
  • The Judge issues a certificate fixing a date for the Decree Nisi.
  • The Decree Nisi is pronounced - no one needs to attend Court.
  • Six weeks after the Decree Nisi the Petitioner may apply for the Decree Absolute - but will often choose not to do so immediately if a financial settlement has not been achieved.
  • Three months after the Petitioner could have applied for the Decree Absolute, the Respondent may do so, but the application may fail if there is no financial settlement.

How long does it take to get divorced in the UK?

Most divorces take about four-six months from start to Decree Absolute. However, this can take longer if there are significant delays at the court.

Can I get divorced in the UK if we married abroad or one of us now lives abroad?

As long as you and/or your spouse are habitually resident or domiciled in the UK, you will likely be able to start divorce proceedings here. However, this will depend on your exact circumstances, so it is important to take professional advice as soon as possible.

Before starting divorce proceedings, it is very important to be certain that the Courts of England and Wales have the jurisdiction to deal with the divorce proceedings. This does not usually cause any problems, but some complex rules apply where there is an international aspect to a marriage that has broken down.

Can I get an annulment?

Finally, a brief mention of nullity. A party to a marriage may petition for nullity on various grounds which mostly centre on a lack of capacity or consent at the time of the marriage or a refusal or inability to consummate a marriage.

The marriage is then treated as though it had never taken place, although it may give rise to financial claims similar to those that arise on a divorce. Lawyers learn about this in great detail for exam purposes but rarely encounter cases in practice.

I’m not sure if I want to get divorced – what can I do?

Divorce lawyers are under a duty to promote reconciliation where this is possible. We take this seriously. If there is still a chance of saving your marriage, consider making an appointment with RELATE or ask us for a more specialist referral.

Speak to our friendly, expert divorce solicitors in Bristol

For expert advice on dealing with any aspect of divorce and separation, please contact our local offices in Shirehampton and Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.

Have a question or need some simple advice about your divorce? Why not book an initial consultation with our friendly team