Divorce can be confusing and worrying, but with the right specialist legal advice, the challenges involved in family separation can normally be overcome quickly and with minimal fuss, making life easier for everyone.
At Barcan+Kirby, our specialist team of divorce solicitors have decades of experience working with a wide range of clients to protect their interests and those of their loved ones when going through a marriage breakdown.
If you and your partner are considering separation or divorce, our family law solicitors can provide practical advice and legal support, tailored to your needs and circumstances.
Our expert divorce lawyers can help with every aspect of divorce, including the legal process of ending your marriage and making a financial settlement and arrangements for children. Our goal is to make things as straightforward and stress-free as possible, allowing you to quickly move on with your life.
We offer a free initial 30-minute consultation with a member of our family law team. If more detailed advice is required, each additional 30 minutes costs £50.00 (+VAT), payable at the meeting.
We can also offer fixed fee divorce packages that we will be happy to discuss with you when you speak to a member of our divorce law team.
Get in touch with our divorce lawyers in Bristol
To speak to our specialist divorce solicitors in Bristol, contact us on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.
Our divorce law services
We can help you with every aspect of divorce, including:
- Applying for a divorce
- Responding to divorce proceedings initiated by your spouse
- Representing you during a divorce hearing
- Making a financial agreement
- Making arrangements for children
- Resolving any other practical issues connected to your divorce
Speak to a member of our divorce law team now to discuss your requirements.
The divorce process explained
There are various aspects to ending your marriage and having the support of specialist divorce solicitors from the outset can help keep the process as fast, smooth and stress-free as possible.
An important point to understand is that proceedings to end your marriage are entirely separate from those for making a divorce settlement and arrangements for children.
There are various steps involving in divorce proceedings. A typical straightforward divorce will go ahead as follows:
- One or both spouses file a divorce petition with the relevant local court.
- The court sends a copy of the divorce petition to the other spouse (the ‘respondent’).
- The respondent will have 8 days to reply to the court, either accepting the divorce or stating that they wish to defend the divorce (i.e. try to stop it happening).
- Where the respondent accepts the divorce, it can move ahead straightaway. If the respondent chooses to defend the divorce, they will have 21 days to explain why in writing.
- Where the divorce is defended, you will be assigned a court hearing date, which will typically be several months in the future.
- Where the divorce is undefended, or a judge rules at a hearing that the divorce can go ahead, you will be issued with a decree nisi. This is an official document stating that the court sees no reason your divorce cannot proceed.
- Once you have your decree nisi, you will need to wait at least 43 days and then apply for a decree absolute. Once your decree absolute is issued, you marriage is legally ended.
Our divorce settlement services
In most cases, we can help you agree a divorce settlement voluntarily, either through straightforward negotiation with your ex-partner or their solicitor or via non-confrontational dispute resolution methods, such as family mediation.
Assets that may be considered for a divorce settlement include:
- Your family home and any other property you own
- Pension entitlements
- Family businesses
Making arrangements for children during divorce
This is often one of the most contentious issues to resolve during divorce, but it is usually in your children’s best interests (and your own) to reach an amicable agreement with your ex-partner wherever possible.
Issues that can be included in an agreement over arrangements for children include:
- Where your children will live
- What contact they will have with a non-resident parent
- Child maintenance agreements
- Other specific issues, such as where your children will go to school, whether they will have a religious education etc.
Our family mediation service offers a fast, effective way to reach an amicable agreement with your former partner over issues such as financial settlements and arrangements for children.
This process involves both you and your former spouse having a series of meetings together with one of our trained divorce mediators to talk through the various issues that need to be resolved and agree mutually acceptable solutions. The mediator acts as a neutral third party, helping to guide the discussion, defuse any tension and keep things productive.
Mediation is typically much faster and less expensive than taking your divorce through the courts and can keep conflict to a minimum, saving you a lot of stress and making it easier to maintain a positive relationship with your ex-partner.
In most cases you will need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to find out whether mediation could be right for you before you will be allowed to apply for a court for a divorce settlement or arrangements for your children.
Our divorce fees
We provide a fixed fee divorce service for straightforward separations, covering the cost of legally ending your marriage. This is intended to provide certainty over the costs involved, giving you one less thing to worry about at this difficult time.
Our fixed fee divorce service does not cover making a financial settlement or arrangements for children, or dealing with a disputed divorce. We will be happy to discuss the fees for these services separately and either provide a quote or a breakdown of our hourly rate as appropriate.
Legal aid for divorce
Legal aid is no longer available for divorce except where there are exceptional circumstances, such as a history of domestic abuse. If you think you may be eligible for legal aid funding for your divorce, please get in touch.
What are the grounds for divorce in the UK?
There is only one accepted ground for divorce in the UK, this being that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
In order to prove that this is the case, you will need to cite one of the following 5 accepted reasons for divorce:
- Adultery. If your spouse has been unfaithful with someone of the opposite sex (under current English law, same-sex infidelity falls under ‘unreasonable behaviour’ instead).
- Unreasonable behaviour. If your spouse has behaved in a way that means you can no longer reasonably be expected to live with them. Examples include your spouse not supporting you emotionally, spending too little time with you or refusing to contribute financially, as well as more serious issues, such as alcoholism and domestic violence.
- Desertion. If your spouse has left you for at least 2 years out of the last 2.5 and did so without your consent, without a good reason and with the intention to end your relationship.
- Separation for at least 2 years. If you and your spouse have lived apart for 2 years or more and your spouse consents to the divorce. ‘Living apart’ usually means you must not be living under the same roof.
- Separation for at least 5 years. If you and your spouse have lived apart for 5 years or more, whether your spouse consents to the divorce or not.
How long does it take to get a divorce?
This depends entirely on the circumstances, but it will usually take around 4-6 months for an undefended divorce.
If the divorce is defended, it can take significantly longer as you will have to wait for a hearing date.
How can I get a quick divorce?
If your goal is to get divorced as quickly as possible, for example, if you are intending to remarry, there are things our solicitors can do to help the process move forward as fast as possible.
- Helping you to prepare your divorce petition, ensuring there are no errors that could see it rejected and force you to reapply.
- Advising you on the best reasons for your divorce to cite in the petition. This can help to ensure they will be sufficient to satisfy a court while minimising the chances of your spouse objecting and deciding to defend the divorce.
- Ensuring all of the paperwork is handled promptly, including applying for the decree absolute as soon as you are eligible to do so.
- Using our skills in alternative dispute resolution to keep the divorce process amicable, allowing issues to be resolved quickly and avoiding the need for lengthy court action where at all possible.
Is digital divorce a good idea?
From May 2018, it has been possible for people in England and Wales to fill out a divorce application online. This is intended to make it faster and easier to get divorced, in part by reducing the number of mistakes made in divorce petitions that can see the application rejected, wasting time and money for applicants and the courts.
While this does offer advantages, it is still strongly recommended for anyone applying for a divorce to seek assistance from a specialist divorce solicitor. This can help avoid the potential for any mistakes or other issues that could hold up the application, e.g. not providing sufficient reasons for the divorce to be approved by a court.
How much does it cost to get a divorce?
This will depend on the circumstances, including whether your divorce can be handled out of court (which is normally a lot cheaper than if you need to rely on a divorce court to handle proceedings).
Our divorce lawyers provide a fixed fee divorce service for straightforward separations, covering the cost of legally ending your marriage. This does not cover associated issues, such as making a financial settlement and arrangements for children, which will be charged on a separate basis.
The overall cost of your divorce will usually depend on the complexity of the issues involved and how much time these take to resolve. We will be happy to provide an estimate of costs up front and will keep you regularly updated, so you can always stay in control of how much you spend.
To find out more about the cost of divorce or to request a quote, please get in touch.
Can I get a no fault divorce in the UK?
‘No fault’ divorce (where both spouses simply agree to end their marriage) is not currently an option in the UK. This means that you will need to give a reason for ending your marriage in order for a court to grant permission for a divorce.
If you and your ex-partner both agree to the divorce and your goal is to have it go ahead as quickly as possible, it can be good idea to agree the reasons you will give on your divorce petition for your marriage to end. This can reduce the potential for your spouse to defend the divorce if they feel the stated reasons are unfair to them.
It is also sensible to discuss the reasons you will state in your divorce petition with your solicitor to make sure they are likely to be sufficient to satisfy a court. If the court feels your stated reasons are not enough to end your marriage, they can reject your application, holding up your divorce and forcing you to reapply at additional cost.
Can you get legal aid for divorce?
Unfortunately, legal aid is now only available for divorce in exceptional circumstances, such as where there has been domestic abuse. If you believe you may qualify for legal aid funding, please speak to a member of our team to find out more.
Why might someone defend a divorce?
There are three main reasons people will typically consider defending a divorce.
- To delay the divorce in an attempt to save the marriage.
- If they are not willing to admit to specific accusations that have been made about their behaviour in the divorce petition e.g. adultery has been cited, but they deny having an affair.
- Because they want to submit their own divorce petition setting out what they feel are the reasons behind the breakdown of the marriage.
All of these issues can usually be resolved through negotiation, mediation and other non-confrontational methods. This means that even where a divorce is defended, it is rarely necessary to rely on a divorce court to resolve matters.
Our divorce law expertise
When you instruct a member of our dedicated divorce law team, we will listen empathetically to your situation to gain a detailed understanding of what you are hoping to achieve. That way, you can be confident the advice we deliver will reflect your requirements and keep your best interests at heart.
Our solicitors are accredited by the Law Society for Family Law, Family Mediation and Children Law, recognising our expertise in these areas. We also have a Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accredited property law team who can assist with any property issues related to your divorce, including buying and selling property, remortgaging and change of title.
Barcan+Kirby has also been recognised by the Law Society with their Lexcel accreditation reflecting the strength of our client services and we are independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Speak to our divorce lawyers in Bristol today
We support individuals and families across the UK with all aspects of divorce from our six offices in Bristol and the surrounding area located in Bedminster, Clifton, Horfield, Kingswood, Queens Square and Thornbury.
Get in touch with our expert divorce solicitors in Bristol now by calling 0117 325 2929 or using our online enquiry form.