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Five key questions about divorce


Janine Hutson, from Harrison Drury’s divorce and family law team, covers five frequently asked questions raised by her clients when taking the initial steps in a divorce.

If you have come to the decision that your marriage has ended and you are looking at how you can begin to move on, you will have many questions about how to commence with divorce proceedings, include on what grounds you can file for divorce, what is the cost, and timings. Here is a brief outline of five frequently asked questions about divorce.

1. What are the grounds for divorce?

Currently it is possible to divorce on the basis of any of the five following ‘facts’:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour: Where the other party to the divorce has behaved in such an unreasonable manner that you find it intolerable to live with them.
  • Desertion: Where one person in the marriage has deserted the other for a continuous period of at least two years.
  • You’ve been separated for at least two years, and both wish to be divorced.
  • You’ve been separated for at least five years.

2. Who pays the costs of a divorce?

It is possible to ask the court to make an order that your spouse pays your legal costs of the divorce, including the court fee (which is currently £550) and your solicitor’s fees. The court is likely to make an order that your spouse pays your costs if you issue divorce proceedings on the basis of adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.

If you issue divorce proceedings on the basis of being separated for at least two years, or separated for at least five years, the court will be less likely to make an order for your spouse to contribute to your legal costs, as no blame is being attributed for the breakdown of the marriage. You could still come to an agreement to share the costs.

3. Do I need to be able to prove my spouse has committed adultery?

Usually, adultery is proved in divorce proceedings by the spouse who has committed adultery being willing to admit it. If they are not willing to admit it, then it can be difficult to prove. For this reason, you should consider issuing your divorce proceedings on the basis of unreasonable behaviour instead.

If you are not sure whether your spouse will be willing to admit adultery in the divorce proceedings your solicitor will write to them in advance of the proceedings being issued to ask them to confirm that they are willing to admit that they have committed adultery.

4. How long do divorce proceedings usually take?

The timescales for divorce can vary but six months is usually a reasonable estimate from the start of the proceedings to your divorce being finalised.

5. Do I need to have a financial settlement in place before I divorce?

It is not essential to have resolved financial issues before you apply to finalise your divorce. However, it is often best to do so. If you or your spouse hold pension assets, it is particularly important to wait to finalise your divorce until after your financial settlement has been agreed.

The reason for this is your status as a spouse changes on divorce, and this would impact on your eligibility to receive widow’s benefits from your former spouse’s pension, if they pass away before a financial settlement was agreed.

The above questions and answers are a guide only to questions we are regularly asked by clients at the start of divorce proceedings. If you have a question regarding your divorce, or wish to arrange an initial consultation, please contact Janine Hutson on 01772 258321.

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