Deciding to end a marriage by beginning divorce proceedings is often a painful and difficult time. During this time emotions can run high. This is why it is important to seek specialist independent legal advice as soon as possible.
By getting the right advice early on in the process you can take control of the situation and gain what can often be reassuring legal advice on where you stand with regards to finances or what will happen to your children. Thinking about the issue further and not acting can cause you to feel like you have no control over the situation and can end in you feeling more distressed emotionally. Although it makes no difference in English and Welsh law whether you or your spouse files for the divorce, this is not so in other jurisdictions. This makes it especially important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible if another country’s jurisdiction may have a say in your case, especially if you are a high net worth individual. Being the petitioner rather than the respondent in this instance may make all the difference.
You could decide to complete the divorce proceedings yourself. However, this can often end in frustration and arguments between spouses and neither getting the outcome they desired or deserved. You may find that the fees you pay to your solicitor are easily paid back in the better settlement you achieve. Using a solicitor also means that a divorce should be less stressful because you shouldn’t be dealing with the day-to-day issues. No solicitor will pressure you to make up your mind - we are there to give advice and to guide you through the process should you wish to proceed.
Getting a divorce can take varying amounts of time, depending on its level of complexity. The time it takes depends mostly on how easily you and your spouse can reach an agreement on various issues and how busy the court systems are. Generally, we say that a divorce takes around four to six months but can take much longer. A divorce does not usually take place until all the finances have been agreed. This is where the arguments can stretch out for a significant amount of time, lengthening the process, if you both cannot reach an agreement. This is especially the case if either or both individuals have a significant amount of wealth and assets.
Once the respondent has been served with the petition (this can be done by process servers if they refuse) then the decree nisi can be applied for. If the grounds of the petition are accepted the decree nisi will then be pronounced in court. The court will then make an order in relation to finances and once this is agreed the decree absolute will be applied for. It is when the decree absolute is finalised that the divorce takes place. The decree absolute has to be applied for at least 6 weeks and 1 day after the decree nisi is pronounced but this can take much longer if there is a complex financial settlement, for example if you are a high net worth individual with pension funds and investments spread out across the world.
It is possible to use a process called arbitration to settle the financial claims of your divorce. Arbitration essentially means that you are usually able to complete the process much quicker than if you used the public court system and, unlike public courts, arbitration can completely exclude the public and the media if you want to keep your case totally private.
If either spouse lives abroad then there are some circumstances when you can petition for a divorce in England and Wales. This is a particularly complex area of law and we recommend that you take expert legal advice before making any decisions. Where you divorce could have a significant impact on what happens to your wealth and assets and how they are divided so it is very important that independent legal advice is sought by both spouses.
According to leading Divorce Solicitors in Liverpool if you both were last habitually resident in England and Wales, with one of you still living there, then you may be able to divorce there. If the respondent of the divorce is habitually resident in England and Wales or if the petitioner is habitually resident and has been for at least a year (six months if they have their domicile here) before the petition was issued then you may be able to divorce in England and Wales. Alternatively, if both of you are domiciled (generally you would be domiciled where you were born) to England and Wales then you may also be able to divorce there. What is meant by habitual residence and domicile in the law can be quite complex and it is best to get independent legal advice if you wish to divorce in England and Wales and one of you lives abroad.