What are my grounds for divorce?

There is only one ground for divorce, and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down for one of the following reasons:

  • your partner has committed adultery and you now find it intolerable to live with him/her
  • your partner's behaviour is so unreasonable you cannot tolerate living with them any longer
  • desertion (your partner has deserted you for a period of two years or more)
  • you have been separated for two years and your partner agrees to a divorce
  • you have been separated for five years
How much does divorce cost?

For the person bringing the divorce (the petitioner), divorce will be more expensive than for the respondent, as the respondent does not need legal advice to complete his/her form.

The fee for the legal dissolution of the marriage is in the region of £1,200, including court fees and VAT. There are additional costs for time spent negotiating a financial settlement, arrangements with children, and preparations for court orders, should they be necessary. We will give you a clear indication of likely costs at the outset.

How long will it take to get my divorce?

If the divorce is not contested (ie both spouses agree to divorce) then it may take approximately four to six months. It could take longer if the financial arrangements are complicated or difficult to resolve. Each case will vary. We can give you an indication of time scales when we know the details of your situation.

What can I do if my partner won't let me see my children, even with a court order?

We can ask the court to enforce the order. Ultimately, a partner who refuses to obey a court order could be sent to prison.

What should I do if my partner won't pay my maintenance?

We can ask the court to enforce the maintenance payment. If you are receiving money through the Child Support Agency, they are able to enforce payment directly.

What should I do if my partner attacks me?

Initially, contact the police and call an ambulance, or visit your GP for treatment. If you need an injunction to prevent your partner contacting you again, in some circumstances we can apply for an emergency restraining order the same day without your partner being notified. In serious cases the court can grant a power of arrest which enables the police to arrest and remove your artner if they breach the order. We can also arrange for a violent partner to be moved out of your house.

Am I entitled to a share of my partner's business?

This is a complex area in which you need proper advice. It will depend on the nature of the business, and how easily it can be sold. Courts are generally reluctant to order the sale of a business. Agreeing on a valuation of the business can also be an expensive, difficult area. However a settlement figure may be paid in compensation, particularly if you have played an active role in building up the business.

Will I be able to keep the house?

In many cases the spouse who is caring for the children retains the house. Sometimes the house can be sold and both partners can buy a new home from the proceeds.

Will I have a share of my spouse's pension fund?

The court has to take into account any pension which either you or your spouse have.

When a couple are near retirement, with a large pension fund, a wife may be offered a compensatory amount to cover for her loss of the share of the pension. From December 2000, divorcing couples can also divide their pension through a pension sharing order. Wives can transfer an investment value from their husband's pension into a scheme of their own


Can anyone adopt a child?

Potentially anyone aged over 21 who is resident in the UK can apply to adopt a child. Applications can be made solely - ie by one person, or jointly.

Joint applications can only be made by a married couple or civil partnership or two people living as partners in an enduring family relationship. (The age restrictions can change if a couple make a joint application; it may be possible for women as young as 18 to adopt in such circumstances).

What is the process of adoption?
  • the child must be under the age of 18. Different rules apply to the length of time the child has had their home with you prior to the application; from 10 weeks, if the child was placed for adoption by an agency or court, or six months if one of the applicants is the partner and the other is the parent of the child. In other cases it can be one year or more.
  • in a non-agency placement, you must inform your local authority that you intend to apply for an adoption order at least three months before you apply
  • an adoption application is prepared for the court. (You can ask a solicitor to do this for you, or apply on your own behalf.)
  • the local authority will carry out an investigation into your adoption application, including home visits to check their well-being and the environment in which they will be living.
    NB it is an offence to refuse to allow the visits. You must also keep the local authority informed of any permanent change of address, either two weeks before you move, or up to one week afterwards in the case of an emergency
  • the court will make the Order for Adoption taking into account all the circumstances affecting the well-being of the child. This includes the child's own feelings and wishes, the long-term benefits to the child, and whether each current parent/guardian consents to the adoption freely, unconditionally and with full understanding of what is involved
  • if a parent or person with parental responsibility cannot be located, we need to make an application to the court for that person's agreement to the adoption to be dispensed with
What happens if one parent disagrees with the adoption process?

If a natural parent disagrees with the adoption process they have the opportunity to discuss this with the Local Authority, who will include this information in their report. A biological parent who doesn't have parental responsibility can apply for contact, or parental responsibility, and the court will consider their application alongside the adoption order. The court may be reluctant to pass an Adoption Order if one parent is strongly opposed to it.