Divorce can be confusing and stressful, 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 or relationship breakdown.
If you and your partner are considering separation, civil partnership dissolution 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 or civil partnership, 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.
Get in touch with our divorce solicitors in Bristol
To speak to our specialist divorce lawyers in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, contact us on 0117 325 2929, or complete our online enquiry form. We advise separating couples across the UK from our offices in Bedminster, Bishopston, Kingswood, Queen Square and Thornbury.
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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
- Making a financial agreement or obtaining a financial order
- 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.
Our financial divorce settlement services
In most cases, our divorce lawyers can help you agree on a financial 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 financial settlement as part of the divorce 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
- How much time they will spend with each parent (previously called ‘contact’)
- Child maintenance agreements
- Other specific issues, such as where your children will go to school, whether they will have a religious education etc.
Non-confrontational approach to divorce, children and finances
Family mediation 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 a trained divorce mediator, to talk through the various issues that need to be resolved and agree on 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 asking the court to make orders about your finances and the children. Mediation 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 to a court for an order about your finances or about arrangements for your children.
Collaborative law offers a conflict-free approach to dealing with separation and divorce. The aim is to support couples through the end of their relationship, outside of court.
We have several trained collaborative lawyers who are experienced in supporting separating couples in a productive, non-confrontational way. Our collaborative approach helps you to reach an agreement on finances and child arrangements whilst striving to maintain a positive relationship with your ex-partner.
Our divorce fees
In some areas of family law, we offer a complimentary initial telephone call of up to 30 minutes with a member of our team. This meeting is designed for you to get to know your solicitor and discuss your options. We won’t give you specific advice about your situation during this initial free call, so if this is required and you’d like some advice that is more tailored to your circumstances, we can offer you a fixed fee for a longer consultation.
Our fixed-fee initial consultations will last one hour and will take place in one of our offices or we can offer a video call if that is more convenient for you, We can also offer longer consultations which might be appropriate if you are already involved in court proceedings.
Fixed-fee divorce packages
Our divorce solicitors also offer a fixed-fee divorce package if you intend to start the proceedings to end your marriage. This fixed fee will provide certainty over the costs involved in obtaining a divorce, 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. We will be happy to discuss the fees for these services separately and we will provide you with an estimate of costs. We can usually offer you a fixed fee for certain stages of your case.
In some areas of family law, we offer a complimentary initial telephone call of up to 30 minutes with a member of our team. This meeting is designed for you to get to know your solicitor and to discuss your options.
We won’t give you specific advice about your personal situation during this initial call, so if this is required and you’d like some advice that is more tailored to your circumstances, we can offer you a fixed fee for a longer consultation.
To book a consultation with our divorce solicitors in Bristol, call 0117 325 2929.
Mediation is an effective method of resolving disputes, without the need to go to court. It’s a voluntary process that involves an independent third party (a mediator) who helps both parties come to an agreement through discussion and negotiation.
It’s a popular misconception that pre-nups are only for the wealthy. There are many situations that may trigger the need for a prenuptial agreement. These include having children from a previous relationship, owning or being part of a business, owning pre-marital property or having assets.
Our simple guide to pre-nups might help you decide whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you, or you can contact our family law solicitors for help and advice.
To formally end your marriage, you’ll need to complete an online application (formerly known as a ‘Petition’) that states that your marriage has broken down.
You no longer need to show that one person has been unreasonable, committed adultery or demonstrate that you have been separated for a number of years. The new no-fault divorce process, which came into force in April 2022, is aimed at minimising the distress that was often caused by having to blame one spouse or having to wait at least two years to get a divorce.
Our specialist divorce lawyers can help you apply for divorce and guide you through the financial and children aspects of your separation.
If you’ve been in a civil partnership for at least one year, you have the right to dissolve it by applying to the County Court for a dissolution order.
Our divorce and separation solicitors can advise you on ending your civil partnership. You’ll need to provide a statement that says your partnership has broken down.
As an alternative to court, we can refer you to family mediation. This is quicker, more flexible and helps you maintain control over the situation. Reaching an agreement amicably is particularly beneficial when children are involved. Contact our team to book your consultation.
Payments for children are governed and administered by the Child Maintenance Service Support Agency (CMS, previously called Child Support Agency). They’ll calculate the payment due based on the absent parent’s disposable income and the number of children. For further information, visit the GOV.UK website.
Some payments for children are not covered by CMS. For example, school fees and child maintenance for step-children and disabled children. For advice on negotiating these payments, contact our family lawyers in Bristol and South Gloucestershire for advice.
As part of any divorce, both parties are required to provide full and frank disclosure of their financial positions to the other. Initially this is likely to be on a voluntary basis but it can be imposed by the court as part of an order.
You’ll need to complete a Form E to detail your financial situation. This includes your financial position now and what you expect it to be in the future. You’ll also need to include supporting documentation as evidence.
This depends entirely on the circumstances, but it will usually take around six months to one year.
If the divorce is defended, it can take significantly longer as you will have to wait for a hearing date.
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 applications that can see them rejected, wasting time and money for applicants and the courts.
While a DIY approach may sound appealing, 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 such as child arrangements and finances.
Our divorce lawyers provide a fixed-fee divorce service for those applying to the court for an order to end their marriage. This fixed fee does not cover associated issues, such as making a financial settlement and arrangements for children, which will be charged on a separate basis.
We will be happy to provide an estimate of costs up front for helping you resolve children and financial issues, and we can often offer a tailored fixed fee for aspects of your case. We will always keep you regularly updated, so you can always stay in control of how much you spend.
To arrange a meeting with one of our divorce lawyers, please get in touch.
‘No fault’ divorce came into effect on 6th April 2022 in England and Wales. This means that separating couples no longer need to attribute blame when filing for divorce.
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 family team is band 3 ranked in legal guide, Chambers and Partners UK and tier 3 ranked in Legal 500 for its expertise in matrimonial law.
Many of our solicitors are accredited by Resolution and the Law Society for Family Law 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).
Many people fear that getting divorced will be expensive, take a long time and result in a lot of conflict and stress. However, with the right legal advice and support, the divorce process can usually be relatively fast and affordable. By taking a non-confrontational approach it is also normally possible to keep things amicable to avoid any unnecessary emotional fallout.
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 financial settlement and from those relating to arrangements for children.
Our divorce lawyers have decades of experience helping people to navigate all of the issues involved in the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership. During that time, we have found there are a number of questions that people always ask, including: “how do I start divorce proceedings?”, “how long will my divorce take?” and, of course, “how much is this all going to cost?”.
To take some of the confusion out of divorce proceedings, we have answered many of the common questions and concerns our clients typically have. That way, you’ll be able to move forward with a much better idea of exactly what to expect when getting divorced.
There are various parts to the process of getting divorced, including both the legal proceedings to end your marriage, as well as the separate matter of making a financial settlement and arrangements for any children you have.
In most cases, there is no need to go to court. However, this will depend on how contentious the issues involved are, including how your finances should be divided and where any children you have together should live.
To legally end your marriage, you will need to go through the following steps:
Filing for divorce
One or both spouses will need to fill out a divorce application stating that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. Under the new no-fault divorce law, introduced in April 2022, you no longer have to provide a reason to get a divorce.
You can apply for a divorce solely or jointly with your spouse by using the online divorce portal or by post. The spouse who issues a sole application is known as the ‘applicant’ whereas if the application is issued jointly, one of you will be called ‘applicant 1’ and the other ‘applicant 2’.
Responding to a divorce application
When the court receives a divorce application, they will send a copy to the other spouse named in the application, who is referred to as the ‘respondent’.
The respondent will then have 14 days to reply to the court stating whether they accept the divorce. Under the new divorce law, a divorce or civil partnership dissolution can only be disputed in limited circumstances; either on the basis of jurisdiction, the validity of the marriage or claiming that the marriage or civil partnership has already been ended.
If the respondent wants to challenge the application on the basis of one of the above, they will then have a further 21 days to inform the court in writing of their reasons for doing so and also pay a fee of £245.
Receiving the conditional order (previously known as the ‘ decree nisi)
If the respondent does not dispute the divorce, or a judge decides to grant the divorce at a hearing, the court will then issue a conditional order.
This is a court order saying that the court sees no reason why your divorce cannot go ahead and is essential to allow proceedings to move to the final stage.
20-week ‘cooling-off’ period
As of April 2022, there is a minimum timeframe of 20 weeks between the conditional order being submitted and the divorce order being applied for. A further six weeks and one day period must then pass between the conditional order and the application for the final order.
Applying for the final order (previously known as the ‘decree absolute’)
The divorce order is the legal document that states that your marriage is officially over, leaving you free to move on, remarry, and in all other ways live as a single person.
If the application is made by one party, they must provide 14 days’ notice to the respondent of their intention to apply.
Both spouses will receive a copy of the divorce order, which is needed for various issues, such as if you later want to get married again or otherwise have to prove that your marriage has ended.
If for any reason, the respondent needs to apply for the divorce order instead of the applicant, they will need to wait an additional three months to do so, on top of the standard 43 days.
If you later need to get a copy of the divorce order, you can do so by applying to the original court that handled your divorce. You will need your case number and will have to pay a small fee (£10 as at January 2022) for the application process.
Making a financial settlement as part of your divorce
The job of sorting out and dividing your finances usually happens at the same time as divorce proceedings, although it is a completely separate process.
Even where your finances are fairly complex, it is usually possible to agree on a financial settlement without needing to go to court. This is often done through mediation, allowing you to discuss all of the issues involved in a non-confrontational way with the help of a mediator acting as a neutral third party to defuse conflict and keep things on track.
If you and your ex-partner cannot agree on a settlement, you may need to apply to a court to decide for you. This will involve attending one or more court hearings where a judge will listen to submissions from both parties, and then decide on a settlement.
In order to have your financial settlement decided in court, you will normally need to show that you have at least considered mediation first by attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
Making arrangements for children during divorce
If you and your ex-partner have children together, you will need to decide where they will live, how they will be supported and how much time they will spend with each parent.
Again, this can be decided through mediation or other non-confrontational means. In most cases, you will need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting before being allowed to apply to a court for an order relating to the children.
Arrangements for children can either be made at the same time as agreeing on a financial settlement or as an entirely separate process.
Other issues to think about when getting divorced
Updating your Will
It is usually a good idea to create a new Will when separating or getting divorced to ensure the change in your relationship status is reflected. This can help to ensure your estate goes to your children or other loved ones in the event of your death, rather than your former partner.
Transferring ownership of your home
If you and your partner own a home together, it will usually be necessary to remove one of your names from the title of the property. You will also need to speak to your mortgage provider, who may be willing to let you transfer the mortgage into the remaining occupant’s name, or you may need to remortgage.
You should only do this after you have obtained a legally binding financial settlement. We would strongly urge you to seek legal advice before dealing with any property or assets that need to be considered as part of the divorce process.
Protecting your financial security when moving on to a new relationship
This can give you certainty over what will happen if your new relationship does not work out and ensure your future financial security (and that of your children and any other dependants).