Divorce: Frequently Asked Questions

As documented in our previous article ‘What is the first step of getting divorced?‘ divorce is the most commonly seen legal matter that we encounter and work through with our clients.

Every team member within Higgins Miller, specialises in the area of divorce, as we have developed many years of experience, knowledge and utmost care within this area of family law. We understand first-hand how stressful, isolating and exposing a divorce may leave a person feeling, so really are by your side, every step of the way.

We feel passionate about our commitment to ensuring our clients understand every step of divorce proceedings. So much so, we have dedicated various articles purely to the subject of divorce.

Within this article, we’ve compiled a list of divorce FAQs. Hopefully, we answer any questions you may have. Of course, if you still have questions, then feel free to contact us today.

What is a divorce?

A divorce is a legal term which is used to describe the ending or dissolving of a marriage between two people. A divorce Manchester is granted by the courts, so is therefore a legal matter. Divorce is different to separation, as a couple that chooses to separate may not necessarily be legally married. Equally, a separated couple may still be legally married.

Divorce requirements

It’s worth noting that there are legal requirements that must be true, for a divorce proceeding to commence. These are:

  • You and your spouse have been married for over a year
  • Your relationship has permanently, irrevocably broken down
  • Your marriage is legally recognised in the UK

Once you are certain all of the requirements apply to your situation, you then need to decide whether you are making a joint application or applying for a divorce on your own. Like all divorces, this will depend on your current situation and whether you and your partner agree about the proceedings. If you’re not sure which application to apply for, this is something you can talk through with one of our divorce solicitors Manchester.

What are the grounds for divorce?

2022 was a landmark year for future divorce proceedings, as the introduction of ‘No fault divorces’ was introduced. This was born to end volatile, ‘blame game’ divorces, combatting any acrimony between divorcing couples, resulting in more harmonious, amicable separation for two people.

Due to The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 becoming law in 2022, it’s important that as of 2024, you know which grounds you can file for a divorce based upon and whether the 2022 changes could impact your case individually.   

The five grounds for Divorce (pre 2022 changes)

Before the 2022 change to divorce law, known as both ‘grounds for divorce’ and ‘reasons for divorce’, one of the following five facts had to be proven for a divorce to be legally granted.

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion for two years or more
  • Separation for two years with consent; and/or
  • Separation for five years without consent

Again, each divorce is unique, in the sense of whether you have a spousal agreement, what your family life looks like and the circumstances surrounding the divorce itself. If you are unsure which ground(s) to file for a divorce, this is something we can discuss with you in detail. Our friendly, robust, practical approach to every individual case means you’re fully supported and clear with how to proceed.

How long does a divorce take?

Without running the risk of repeating the ‘how long is a piece of string?’ analogy, every divorce is different in every aspect, especially the length upon which it is granted.

On average, a divorce takes at least seven to eight months from the initial application submission to receiving the divorce final order. The government statistic outlines that divorces that occurred in 2023 took up to 64 weeks. This goes to show that divorce timescales can vary significantly, depending on factors such as agreement, sorting of property, children, finances, etc.

You must also factor in other external delays, such as court delays, application errors and of course, delays caused by the respondent (if agreement isn’t in place).

Will I have to go to court?

This is one of the divorce FAQs we’re asked an awful lot, as the prospect of court is a daunting, anxiety-provoking prospect. Luckily, most divorces are granted without either the applicant or the respondent needing to appear in court. However, there are cases of divorce where litigation may be the only feasible option. These include the below examples:

  • The impossibility of a negotiation being reached
  • Complexities in terms of ownership of assets and properties
  • Financial non-disclosure
  • Intimidation or violence
  • Multiple jurisdiction involvements

The judge within the court will then use their power to make rulings which ensure fairness, justice and an appropriate divorce settlement to the involved parties.

Do I have to attend mediation?

In most divorce proceedings, you do not have to attend mediation. We recommend mediation before initiating a divorce, but once you have agreed it’s the only course of action, mediation isn’t required. However, if court litigation is required for your divorce to be granted, you may need to prove you have attempted mediation through a MIAM (a mediation information and assessment meeting).

Of course, in order to protect your safety and mental health, there are legal exemptions where attending an MIAM isn’t necessary.

Our assurance here at Higgins Miller Solicitors

At Higgins Miller Solicitors , we pride ourselves on being there for you whenever you need an expert, legal hand, during stressful times, such as divorce. We are continually assessing and improving our practice, as part of our lifelong commitment to you, our clients. We are especially mindful at the moment of the ongoing cost of living crisis, so we understand the financial implications of contacting a solicitor and how this can add even more anxiety and pressure to an already fraught situation.

If you feel in a position to continue with divorce proceedings, one of our specialist divorce lawyers Manchester, will happily arrange an initial hour meeting in our Stockport based offices. This service includes each client leaving with a detailed, written report of our discussion together, with our professional advice should you proceed with the divorce.

For further information on divorce FAQs, or if you still feel you have any unanswered divorce-related questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0161 429 7251 or if you’d prefer, you can email us at [email protected]. We treat all client enquiries with the utmost confidentiality and offer impartial, honest advice.

Kaley W

February 14, 2024