What is the first step of getting divorced?

Here at Higgins Miller, our wealth of experience in handling divorces has seen us oversee all aspects of the process; from the initial meeting and completing online paperwork, through to children contact and securing finances. We feel our clients need our support every step of the way, even for long durations after the settlement is reached. With that being said, a priority of ours is that every person facing a divorce has a thorough understanding of the process before it starts. This is why we felt compelled to focus a whole article on the first step of getting divorced, as it’s a question we’re asked an awful lot.

We wanted to take you through it step by step so that if the time comes that you require a divorce, or know somebody that does, you’ll hopefully feel assured in the knowledge you possess and of course, that with us, you’re in safe hands.

Currently in the UK, recorded divorce rates are as high as 42%, which is up on previous data, which averaged that a third of marriages end in divorce.

Attempting open talks and mediation to come to arrangements

As with any potential conflict involving legalities, we always suggest coming to an amicable, agreeable solution with your partner. Having open, honest and at times uncomfortable conversations will benefit you overall. Airing your thoughts, feelings and desires really can make a world of difference in the prospect of a divorce. We call this setting the tone for the process. The more amicable and understanding you both are towards one another, the more you can help to ensure the process runs as smoothly (and respectably) as possible.

If this isn’t an option, you could try mediation, which involves an impartial third party acting to find an amicable resolution. However, if both options haven’t worked, then it’s time to contact specialist divorce solicitors

The first step

In 2022, the introduction of ‘No fault divorces’ was a huge landmark reform, for couples wanting to legally terminate their marriage. It ended the more combative, volatile style of divorces, as it took out the element of the ‘blame game.’ In theory, this makes divorces much simpler and less intrusive for those involved.

No two divorces  are ever the same. Especially those that involve finances, property and children can become increasingly complex and difficult to navigate. Reaching mutual agreements on property and children has to be a priority, as a smooth transition for all involved is of course the most desired outcome.

The first step is for both parties to understand the basic principles of the divorce process.

This can be categorised into three parts:

  • The agreement that the marriage be annulled through a divorce
  • Reaching an agreement concerning financial matters, such as dividing assets and paying any child maintenance  
  • Reaching an agreement on how any children of the marriage will be looked after – such as living arrangements or shared-access arrangements.

Your first meeting with a solicitor

Another ‘first’ within the divorce proceedings is your initial meeting with a divorce specialist solicitor.  This is a crucial meeting as it’s your opportunity to ask as many questions as you need to, as well as laying out all of the information needed for the divorce to occur smoothly. One of our trusted team will go through The Family Law Protocol with you, explaining detailed issues such as:

  • Whether a reconciliation can be reached as a final attempt before proceedings start
  • Your relationship history (including mistreatment and abuse)
  • Finances and whether restrictions are required on a joint account, for example
  • Potential issues with the children and their safety
  • Any other foreseeable issues that could complicate proceedings

The more information you provide to your solicitor, the better.

The next stage of the first step

If you are the person requesting the divorce, you are then known as the applicant, as you are the one making the application. Although the application can be made jointly, of course. A divorce application is then made to the court and one of our team will complete the documentation for you as our client. This is one of the many ways we try to take as much of the strain away from you. This then leaves you to prioritise other factors, such as your well-being and mental health.

Decree Nisi – The Conditional Order

Once the application is complete, other factors such as financial agreements can be agreed between both parties. Although it’s important to note that nothing can be finalised until the conditional offer (formally referred to as the Decree Nisi) has been legally granted.

For more information regarding all topics linked to divorce, feel free to browse our catalogue of divorce information articles. Remember, we’re on hand to answer all of your questions and will support you throughout the whole process. With our team, you’re not alone in any legal matter.  Specific advice on how to get divorced is also a recommended read following this article.

At Higgins Miller Solicitors  we pride ourselves on being there for you when it matters most. This is why we treat every legal case with a person-centred, compassionate approach. We understand the financial implications of contacting a solicitor can weigh heavily on your minds. Therefore, your first 20-minute telephone consultation is completely free.

Moving forward, if you would then like to discuss divorce proceedings with one of our specialist divorce solicitors, we would happily arrange an initial hour meeting in our Stockport-based offices, for just £120 + vat. This also 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 anything covered in this article, 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 enquiries with the utmost confidentiality and offer impartial, honest advice.

Kaley W

February 2, 2024