Divorce, dissolution and separation

Divorce, dissolution and separation advice from Boys & Maughan focuses on alternatives to court proceedings and is geared towards finding solutions and lasting agreements, which look after the needs of our clients and interests of any children.

Our specialists, who are based in Margate and Canterbury, recognise the benefits to couples and their children of working together for the benefit of the whole family rather than focussing on conflict. See our collaborative page or watch the video here for more details of our usual approach.

There is no one size fits all approach to divorce, ending a civil partnership or separating. We explain all of the available options and fully support our clients in their preferred process, ensuring at all times that their interests are paramount. Our lawyers have decades of experience of between them. They often spot pitfalls clients are unaware of saving them time, money and unnecessary worry.

Call or email us and we will explain how we can help. We believe you will be pleased with the approach we take and our fees.

Divorce and dissolution
If you are having problems in your marriage, civil partnership or your partner whom you live with, you should first consider whether these difficulties could be resolved with the help of a trained relationship counsellor. Organisations such as Relate could help you.

If you do decide to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership, we are here to advise and guide you through the process. We will outline your options at every stage and give you the information to make your own decisions. 

Wherever possible we will tell you in advance exactly how much each stage of your divorce will cost. However, this is not always possible which is why you should give serious consideration as to how you plan to fund your case. To assist you with this we offer a range of fixed fees - please ask us for more details.

People who live together without being married often mistakenly think they gave similar rights to married couple if the relationship breaks down or one of you dies. This is often not the case. See our page about cohabitation for further details if you are looking for information about separating from a partner whom you live with. 

No fault divorce
Couples can now divorce without apportioning blame. Most people we see are seeking to divorce with dignity through a constructive, collaborative approach so the change is welcome.

Reform was long overdue because making it difficult to obtain a divorce did not keep people together, it usually just made the situation worse. Before 6 April 2022, if you wanted to start divorce proceedings, you would need to provide a reason for the divorce even if you felt the agreement to split was mutual. If you had not been separated for more than two years, you would have to attribute fault or blame to your spouse.

Understandably, blaming your partner for the breakdown of the relationship can increase the likelihood of an acrimonious divorce. The impact can be huge and it goes without saying that worse communication between separating couples makes it much more difficult to find solutions to childcare arrangements and financial matters.

The divorce process
Divorce will always remain a painful process, regardless of the legislation involved but couples who have decided to divorce are now more able to concentrate on working out an amicable parting and future for them and any children. There is time included in the process for reflection but ultimately the law will trust individuals to decide if their marriage is over with less judicial scrutiny and discretion involved.

  • No fault - couples no longer need to provide a reason for the breakdown of their marriage
  • You can apply for divorce with a joint application, but you do not have to
  • There is a mandatory 20 week “cooling off” period between making your application to court and the court providing the first of two orders of divorce, giving parties the chance to discuss the best way forward or consider reconciliation
  • The divorce application can no longer be contested by either party, except on grounds of the validity of the marriage. Divorce does not therefore have to be a joint application.

For many people the decision to leave a partner follows years of anguish. There can be difficult issues to resolve, sometimes requiring professional financial advice or mental health interventions, for example. You can expect your lawyer to have the experience to smooth the process and contacts to provide any necessary additional support.

We recognise that no-fault divorce may help end the ‘blame game’ and prolonged resentment, but it doesn’t mean that all couples will suddenly stop blaming each other. We also recognise that separating couples will still usually feel deep feelings of hurt and upset, and our lawyers are in no doubt that helping clients through a no-fault divorce will require a high degree of sensitivity.

New terminology to replace decree nisi and decree absolute was introduced on 6 April 2022. Conditional Order is the first order of divorce and confirms that the court does not see any reason for the divorce not to continue. The second order is the Final Order which ends the marriage.

The time it takes to get a divorce will vary according to the complexity of your case and the practice of the particular court. 

Aspects of the divorce process that remain the same now we have no fault divorce
Our goal will continue to be to bring your marriage to an end as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

  • Once the divorce application has been made, unless you have submitted a joint application, your spouse will still need to complete an ‘acknowledgement of service’ to confirm that they have received the application from the court
  • Couples will still have to wait until the first Conditional Order is made before making an application for a financial consent order
  • There will still be a mandatory six weeks and one day waiting period between receiving the Conditional Order and applying for the Final Order
  • There is stll a court fee to pay of £593 to apply for a divorce, unless you are financially exempt.

Divorce proceedings that started before 6 April 2022 will continue under the ‘old’ law and procedure and will not cross over to the new approach.

Financial Arrangements
The changes to the divorce process introduced on 6 April 2022 do not affect how solicitors approach financial arrangements negotiations. This process remains the same. An agreed financial settlement can still be negotiated and approved by the judge, or by making an application to the court to start financial remedy proceedings where an agreement cannot be reached or an out of court approach is not appropriate. One of our team can talk you through your options in more detail and you may wish to read our divorce, dissolution and separation guide before speaking to us.

Ending a civil partnership
When the UK introduced civil partnerships in 2005 they were originally intended for same-sex couples wishing to enter a legal union. The laws were altered in 2013 to allow same-sex marriage and then changed again in 2019, allowing opposite-sex couples to also enter civil partnerships.

Divorce ends a marriage and dissolution ends a civil partnership. If you want to legally end your civil partnership, you will need to apply to a court for a dissolution order and we can assist you with this. Your civil partnership must have lasted at least one year before you can apply for a dissolution.

No fault dissolution
Previously you had to state your grounds for a dissolution choosing from a number of categories, but now you can apply without needing to give grounds or reasons for your decision. Applying for dissolution, like applying for divorce, is now much more straightforward. For more information, all the references to divorce on our website also apply to dissolution.

Your Will
Your legal rights and responsibilities to your ex-spouse may change significantly after you separate. We recommend that you consider amending your current Will, or, if you do not already have a Will, having one drafted. Our private client team would be more than happy to discuss your options.

Our family law team’s approach
Our approach is to listen actively to the concerns of all of our clients and to find a solution which will minimise potential damage and help clients find a constructive way forwards. As part of this, you will receive:

  • Truly objective advice about the options available, to ensure that you can make the correct choices and consider your future aspirations and those of your children;
  • Expert guidance with practitioners who have specialist accreditations and experience of complex and diverse family law matters;
  • Tailor-made solutions which recognise the very individual nature of every case and can embrace the assistance of other experts when needed.

We understand that when clients come to see us, they are often confused, angry and quite frightened. Our aim is to develop a holistic strategy to assist wherever possible.

We believe that high-quality family lawyers are entrusted to empower clients and build trust with their families rather than destroying it and discouraging ongoing communication. We believe that cost-effective solutions to family problems are often found when practitioners facilitate discussions rather than control them.

Contact us to discuss any questions that you may have about getting divorced.