Divorce and no-fault divorce

Experienced divorce lawyers

What they say

"The team is a very cohesive unit with great communication and response times. Work is performed in a speedy manner and all employees are approachable for any questions I had."

Legal 500 UK 2022

Divorce and separation can be stressful and challenging. When a marriage or civil partnership breaks down you need swift, dedicated and sensitive guidance.

DMH Stallard’s expert divorce solicitors can fully support you through the whole process, carefully explaining all the legal options available to you and advising you on how to achieve the best outcome.
 
We have a wealth of expertise in complex financial proceedings and child-related disputes. We take a pragmatic approach to finding creative solutions to the issues raised by difficult and emotional family breakdowns.
 
Our lawyers are members of Resolution so we will always try our best to reach a reasonable, amicable settlement without attending court. Where this is not possible, our highly experienced team will take a robust approach to court proceedings ensuring that your legal position is fully protected, and you get the best possible settlement.

You can contact us  by completing our quick form or  call us on 03333 231 580.


What our divorce law team do

Our specialist family solicitors provide a comprehensive service in all aspects of divorce, civil partnership dissolution and separation-related issues. We advise a diverse range of clients from professionals, entrepreneurs and property developers to politicians and sports personalities.

Our work includes:

If you are unmarried or not in a civil partnership, separation will be governed by different rules. Our skilled team also deal with separation and cohabitee agreements & disputes. Read more about our other family and relationships services.


No-fault divorce solicitors

The no-fault divorce system of divorce in England and Wales means that couples seeking a divorce do not need to produce evidence of the poor conduct of a spouse or civil partner, nor do they need to establish a period of separation. The sole requirement to start the process of obtaining a final order of divorce is for one or both spouses to provide the court with a statement to the effect that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
 
An application for divorce may only be challenged on limited grounds. For example, if there are doubts over whether the English courts have the power to deal with the divorce application (jurisdictional issues) or where there are questions over the legal validity of the marriage or civil partnership.

After you apply for divorce you must wait for 20 weeks before taking the next step of seeking a conditional divorce order (previously known as a decree nisi). During this time, you can reflect on whether you are certain about getting divorced. You can also discuss with your lawyers and your spouse the financial and child arrangements you would like to see put in place when the divorce becomes final.

No-fault divorce can have the effect of removing some of the acrimony that could arise under the fault-based system of divorce that existed before the DDSA. When couples aren’t required to blame each other for the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership they have the opportunity to work collaboratively to reach amicable, negotiated agreements on the family home, finances and children.


How do I get a no-fault divorce?

The procedure for obtaining a no-fault divorce is as follows: 

  • You or your spouse, or both of you if it is a joint application, apply for a divorce order. This can be done online or by post
  • The application must include a signed statement to the effect that the marriage has irretrievably broken down
  • Neither spouse can oppose the application
  • Once the application is filed a reflection period of 20 weeks begins
  • After 20 weeks the spouse or spouses confirm that they wish the divorce to proceed
  • The court must accept that the marriage has broken down and make the order for divorce
  • The court issues a conditional order of divorce (a decree nisi before the DDSA came into force)
  • Six weeks after the conditional order is made it can be made into a final order (a decree absolute pre-DDSA)

 Applications for judicial or legal separation orders can also be made jointly or by one spouse only. These applications cannot be filed online.


No-fault divorce: What you need to know

What does no-fault divorce mean?

No-fault divorce means spouses or civil partners do not have to blame each other for the breakdown of a relationship. Instead one or both of them simply need to inform the court that the marriage or partnership has broken down irretrievably. Before 2022 couples had to establish bad behaviour on the part of one spouse or demonstrate a period of separation before they could apply for a divorce. In many cases this raised tensions between the parties making it more difficult to resolve financial issues and child arrangements. While no-fault divorce does not remove areas of conflict from the process entirely many believe it makes amicable financial settlements and child agreements easier to reach.

Can I use adultery or unreasonable behaviour as a basis for divorce?

No. There’s only one ground for divorce in England and Wales – that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

How long is the process for a no-fault divorce?

Once you apply for a no-fault divorce you must wait 20 weeks before getting what’s called a conditional order of divorce. (A decree nisi under the fault-based system). You must then wait for at least six weeks before the court will make that conditional order final (a decree absolute under the fault-based regime).

Can I object to my spouse or civil partner’s request for a divorce?

Under the no-fault rules on divorce, there’s no concept of blame. You can’t object when an application has been made for a conditional divorce order.

Is a no-fault divorce expensive?

Drafting and filing the paperwork to get a final order of divorce is not particularly complicated or expensive. The cost of your divorce will depend on the kind of issues that are raised in relation to your financial settlement and child arrangements. Where agreement is difficult to achieve or where overseas assets need to be traced for example, your divorce will cost more than if there are relatively few issues to resolve.

Will I receive more or less in my financial settlement under no-fault?

No-fault divorce in England and Wales may make it easier to reach a settlement because there is less bitterness over the breakdown of a marriage. However, the court approaches financial provision in exactly the same way that it did under the fault-based system that existed until 2022. So, the amount you receive in any settlement will not change under no-fault divorce.

How are arrangements for children decided under no-fault divorce?

As it always has the court will approach matters relating to children by putting the child’s welfare front and centre of any decision.


Why choose our divorce lawyers?

Family Client Review November 2021

"I cannot praise the professionalism and courtesy too highly. The advice given in a very complex divorce matter, was clear, concise, enlightening and inspiring"

Family Client Review November 2021

We know that you have a choice when it comes to instructing a divorce lawyer. Whether you think the financial issues and the arrangements for children will be relatively straightforward to resolve, or you think these issues will become contentious, it’s important to get specialist advice early on. This will enable you to approach the divorce with an understanding of the issues and a realistic idea of what to expect in any settlement.
 
Here are some reasons why we think people choose us to act for them when they are getting divorced: 
  • At DMH Stallard we’re proud of our hands-on, client-focussed approach to the divorce process and the resolution of financial matters and issues concerning children
  • The team is known for its commercial and practical approach
  • It’s important for us to build a good rapport with clients
  • We have a strong national reputation. This means we are able to attract the best lawyers with the necessary skill to resolve even the most complex financial family affairs
  • We are known for our adept management of international divorces in overseas jurisdictions, and we regularly handle disputes over which country should decide the divorce
  • Our divorce lawyers are well-versed in the technicalities of enforcing foreign financial orders and deal with applications to the English courts for financial settlements following an overseas divorce
  • We’re viewed as one of the country’s leading specialists in divorce for those with high value and complex financial arrangements
  • DMH Stallard’s network of offices across the South East in Brighton, Gatwick, Guildford, Horsham and London makes us one of the largest firms in the region. We bring City-standard advice to local clients
  • The strength and breadth of our teams in London and elsewhere mean our divorce lawyers have access to all the firm’s other specialists in our corporate, private client and insolvency departments. This means, particularly in complex financial cases, all of your needs are met in-house without the expense and delay involved in having to consult outside experts
  • Our team keeps up to date with legal developments and adapts quickly to new technology and ways of working. This ensures that our advice is always current and our service highly efficient
  • We are members of Resolution, committed to working with clients and other parties in a constructive and non-confrontational way
  • Past clients have expressed their appreciation for the personal service offered by our solicitors across all levels. Protecting the interests of our clients is our top priority.


Jurisdiction & international assets

An increasing number of couples have international connections and assets.  In the context of divorce this raises two issues:
  • Where is the right place to divorce? If the marriage has an international dimension, for example one spouse was born outside of England and Wales or the couple lived abroad during the marriage, it may be possible for one spouse to start divorce proceedings in a legal jurisdiction other than  England and Wales. Because rules about financial settlements and child arrangements differ widely from country to country the jurisdiction chosen to decide your divorce can significantly affect the outcome. London family courts, for example, have an international reputation for being equitable and efficient. English judges are also perceived as reaching decisions that tend to be more favourable to the financially weaker spouse. 
  • Asset tracing – Marital assets that are located around the world can be hidden or undervalued. In cases where there is concern about tracing and preserving worldwide assets that may be in the name of your spouse or partner, we can give you experienced advice as to the steps you need to take, including national or international freezing orders.
 

Legal 500, 2022

"Hugely diverse number of practice areas in this firm makes it easy for clients to have all of their legal advice needs met by one firm. Excellent quality of solicitors means there is consistent quality meaning there is no need to go to another firm"

Legal 500, 2022

We represent clients with links to Europe, the Far East, the Middle East, the US and Australia, and we work closely with trusted law firms in these and other countries to provide clients with rapid and detailed jurisdiction advice.
 
Our work ranges from tracing and freezing assets on behalf of clients with foreign bank accounts and holiday homes to those with multi-million-pound assets spread across multiple jurisdictions.

How we've helped

Using mediation to resolve long-running case
 
We acted as mediator where the parties had been living under the same roof for five years but had been unable to reach an agreement on finance. With only three mediation sessions the parties were able to come up with proposals they were happy with and which they were then able to instruct their solicitors to implement.
 
Bringing our commercial expertise to bear in a multi-million-pound settlement
 
We represented a mother with several young children in an application for financial provision. Our client was not married to the father of her children so did not have the same legal rights as she would have had if she’d been married. The assets in the case were worth tens of millions and ownership of certain assets was contested. In collaboration with our commercial team, our divorce lawyers were able to negotiate an overall settlement, keeping the matter out of court. Being able to access commercial expertise in-house greatly aided our client’s case.
 
Securing a settlement when one spouse did not disclose all assets
 
In a sensitive case we represented a wife who discovered her husband was having an affair. After what was a long marriage the husband was not completely transparent about the value of his business. Our position was that he should be able to extract a sufficient amount from the business to pay our client a lump sum settlement. Although the husband did not take a reasonable approach to financial matters our team was able, ultimately, to get a satisfactory settlement for our client.
 
Dealing with high value assets in different jurisdictions
 
DMH Stallard was instructed to represent a wife in matrimonial, financial and children matters. The case was complex, involving millions of pounds worth of assets in England and internationally so required specialist knowledge of how to deal with these assets. There were significant stock options, requiring an understanding of intricate tax issues. There were also pensions, requiring a pension report to consider how to divide the fund to achieve equality of income upon retirement. Because the wife was the financially weaker of the two spouse we also had to consider the issue of maintenance, maintenance pending suit and spousal maintenance.
 
The case also involved a dispute over child arrangements with the husband arguing that he should share childcare equally despite the wife having given up her career to care for the children and having always been their primary carer.
 
The case was highly unusual due to the value of the assets, the type of assets and the husband’s stance regarding the care of the children.
 
Advising a business owner on financial settlement
 
The divorce team is well known for its expertise in representing individuals in the owner-managed business space. In this particular case the husband and wife co-owned a company with a turnover of several million. Matters were complicated by the fact that there were several minority owners. In attempting to resolve the matter outside of court complex work was required to agree a valuation of the business and our client’s monetary buy-out.
 
This case demonstrates our ability in the region to provide a genuinely holistic service to clients. This case required significant input from the corporate team which would not be available to the client at many other firms.

Contact our divorce law teams across the South East

Our LondonBrightonGatwickGuildford, and Horsham offices support clients throughout the South of England. 

The divorce law team advises both domestic and international clients, and we specialise in jurisdiction disputes and cases where complex assets are located worldwide.

You can contact us by completing our quick form. That way we can ensure the most appropriately qualified person calls you back for an exploratory discussion. If you prefer, call us on 03333 231 580.
  • Brighton - Jubilee St

    1 Jubilee Street

    Brighton

    East Sussex

    BN1 1GE

  • Brighton - Old Steine

    47 Old Steine

    Brighton

    East Sussex

    BN1 1NW

  • Gatwick

    Griffin House

    135 High Street

    Crawley

    West Sussex

    RH10 1DQ

  • Guildford

    Wonersh House

    The Guildway

    Old Portsmouth Road

    Guildford

    Surrey

    GU3 1LR

  • Hassocks

    32 Keymer Road

    Hassocks

    West Sussex

    BN6 8AL

  • Horsham

    Ridgeland House

    15 Carfax

    Horsham

    West Sussex

    RH12 1DY

  • London

    6 New Street Square

    New Fetter Lane

    London

    EC4A 3BF

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