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The Process

To begin dissolution proceedings, you need to have been in a Civil Partnership for at least a year. One of the parties must file a Dissolution Petition at Court stating that the Civil Partnership has irretrievably broken down.

This has to be based on one of the following grounds:

  • unreasonable behaviour by the other party
  • two years’ separation with the consent of the other party
  • five years’ separation (no requirement for the consent of the party)
  • Desertion by the other party.

The Children

Where children are involved, if such issues as where the children will live and who they will spend time with cannot be agreed this may involve one or both parents applying for a Child Arrangements Order.

Undefended or Defended Dissolution

If both parties agree that the Dissolution should proceed undefended, the procedure is quite straight forward and does not require attendance at Court. If the Dissolution is defended (which is rare), a full hearing in Court will be required, with both parties to attend.


Procedure for an Undefended Dissolution

  1. Appoint a solicitor to represent you. Discuss the grounds for dissolution with your solicitor and proposed arrangements for any children. Your solicitor will then send the Dissolution Petition to Court, together with the Civil Partnership Certificate and Court fee.
  2. The Court will register the case and post the papers to your partner or their solicitors, with an Acknowledgement of Service form.
  3. Your partner or their solicitors will complete the Acknowledgement of Service form, stating that the Dissolution Petition will not be defended and send it back to the Court.
  4. The Court sends the Acknowledgement of Service form to your solicitors.
  5. Your solicitor drafts a statement in support of the application for the conditional order which is then sent to the Court.
  6. Judge looks at the papers and decides whether to grant the conditional order.
  7. If the Judge decides to grant the conditional order, both parties are informed that it will be read out in Court on a certain date and time (parties do not need to attend).
  8. A copy of the conditional order is sent to both parties.
  9. Six weeks and one day later, you can apply for the Final Dissolution order.
  10. The Final Dissolution Order is sent to both you and your partner.

Finance

The Dissolution Order ends the civil partnership but it does not dismiss the potential claims that the parties have against each other or sort out where the parties are going to live. Decisions have to be made regarding property, pensions and maintenance issues.

Both you and your partner must disclose your income and assets to each other.

Once agreement is reached regarding financial matters, the solicitors draft a Consent Order, which is signed by you both and sent to the Court for the District Judge to approve.

If child maintenance cannot be agreed, then it will be necessary to apply to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) for an assessment.


Options

There are various options available to you when resolving disputes and it is important that you are aware of all of them so you can choose the best way forward for you.

  1. Direct agreement between you. This is where you come to an agreement yourselves by talking to each other directly. It is important that you instruct a solicitor to advise on the proposed agreement. The solicitor can then take steps to make the agreement legally binding for you if it is appropriate.
  2. Mediation You can seek the assistance of a third person to help you communicate and reach an agreement. The mediator cannot give legal advice. Again, once an agreement is reached, a solicitor must be instructed to advise on the proposed agreement and thereafter take steps to make the agreement legally binding if appropriate.
  3. Instruct a solicitor to pursue an Out of Court agreement or to deal with proceedings at Court (providing you have attended, at the very least, a Mediation Information meeting). 
  4. Deal with matters collaboratively, with solicitors trained in collaborative law. This involves a series of open discussions with everyone present and a commitment not to use the court process.

The Process

To begin divorce proceedings, you need to have been married for at least a year. One of the parties must file a Divorce Petition at court stating that the marriage has “irretrievably broken down”. This has to be based on one of the following five grounds:

  • Adultery by the other party (save on a same sex marriage)
  • Unreasonable behaviour by the other party
  • Two years’ separation with the consent of the other party
  • Five years’ separation (no requirement for the consent of the other party)
  • Desertion by the other party

The Children

Where children are involved, if such issues as where the children will live and who they will spend time with cannot be agreed this may involve one or both parents applying for a Child Arrangements Order.

Undefended or defended

If both parties agree that the divorce should proceed undefended, the procedure is quite straightforward and does not require attendance at Court. If the divorce is defended (which is rare), a full hearing in Court will be required, with both parties to attend.


Procedure for an undefended divorce

  1. Appoint a solicitor to represent you. Discuss the grounds for divorce with your solicitor and proposed arrangements for any children. Your solicitor will then send the Divorce petition to Court together with marriage certificate and Court fee.
  2. The court will register the case and post the papers to the other party (known as “the Respondent”) or their solicitors, with an Acknowledgement of Service form.
  3. The Respondent, or their solicitors, will complete the Acknowledgement of Service form, stating that the Petition will not be defended and send it back to the court.
  4. The court sends the Acknowledgement of Service form to your solicitors.
  5. Your solicitor drafts a statement in support of the application for Decree Nisi, which is then sent to the Court.
  6. The District Judge looks at the papers and decides whether to grant Decree Nisi.
  7. If the Judge decides to grant the Decree Nisi, both parties are informed that it will be read out in court on a certain date and time (but the parties do not need to attend).
  8. A copy of the Decree Nisi is sent to both parties.
  9. Six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi you can apply for the Decree Absolute.
  10. The Decree Absolute is sent by the Court to both parties.

Finance

The Decree Absolute ends the marriage but it does not dismiss the potential financial claims that the parties have against each other or sort out where the parties are going to live. Decisions have to be made regarding property, pensions and maintenance issues. Both you and the other party must disclose your income and assets to each other.

Once agreement is reached regarding financial matters, the solicitors draft a Consent Order, which is signed by both of you and sent to the Court for the District Judge to approve. If child maintenance cannot be agreed, then it will be necessary to apply to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) for an assessment.

Options

There are various options available to you when resolving disputes and it is important that you are aware of all of them so you can choose the best way forward for you. 

  1. Direct agreement between you. This is where you come to an agreement yourselves by talking to each other directly. It is important that you instruct a solicitor to advise on the proposed agreement. The solicitor can then take steps to make the agreement legally binding for you if it is appropriate.
  2. Mediation. You can seek the assistance of a third person to help you communicate and reach an agreement. The mediator cannot give legal advice. Again, once an agreement is reached, a solicitor must
    be instructed to advise on the proposed agreement and thereafter take steps to make the agreement legally binding if appropriate.
  3. Instruct a solicitor to pursue an Out of Court Agreement or to deal with proceedings at Court (providing you have attended, at the very least, a Mediation Information meeting).
  4. Deal with matters collaboratively, with solicitors trained in collaborative law. This involves a series of open discussions with everyone present and a commitment not to use the court process.

Pre-Nuptial & Post Nuptial Agreements

Nobody likes to plan for a separation when they are about to enter into a marriage/civil partnership but sometimes it is wise to enter into agreements regarding property and assets beforehand.

These seek to set out how assets should be divided if separation occurs in the future.

This means that in the sad event of the relationship breaking down there is an agreement which can be used to help resolve issues between you. Agreements can also be drawn up during the marriage/civil partnership to assist in resolving disputes over property/assets should you separate in the future.

It is important to allow plenty of time before the wedding for you both to take legal advice, agree the content of the Pre-nuptial agreement and sign it as it needs to be signed ideally not less than 28 days before the wedding. It is essential that you both take independent legal advice on the agreement and that you have both entered into it freely without any undue pressure. You must both provide each other with full information on your finances which should be attached to the agreement itself.

Definition

This is where you and your former partner agree to resolve issues between you with the help of collaboratively trained lawyers and other experts if appropriate. A team approach is taken with a commitment made to resolve issues by agreement without resorting to court proceedings.

Disclosure

During the collaborative law process both parties are required to provide full information of their income and capital positions.

Procedure

The process involves a series of face-to-face meetings rather than correspondence. At the beginning an agree-ment not to go to court is signed by both parties and their lawyers. If agreement is reached, this can be drafted into a legally binding consent order for approval by the court without the need for either party to attend. If no agreement is reached new solicitors have to be appointed if court proceedings are going to be commenced.

Other Experts

During the process if additional assistance is required to resolve issues, experts from different fields can be invited to meetings. For example, pensions expert, independent financial adviser, relationship counsellor.

Cost

Please contact us by telephone or email for information on Collaborative Law costs.

Upon divorce/civil partnership dissolution/separation some people who changed their surname to their partner's name may wish to revert to their previous surname.

To do so you need a Change of Name Deed to inform authorities such as the council, banks, and DVLA. Our family solicitors can draft the Change of Name Deed and provide you with copies of these, as well as walk you through the process of changing your and/or your children's surname.

You will also need a Change of Name Deed if you are changing your name to a double-barrelled name with a new spouse for example.

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