Family matters are handled by Jeremy Woodford a Partner in the firm. Our services in this area of law are handled efficiently with a breadth of knowledge and experience but of course sensitively given the emotional element that can be involved in this area of work.
Jeremy is able to undertake:
A first meeting is offered on a Fixed Fee basis where preliminary advice can be offered and you will be given estimates of costings of all stages of the process together with an indication of how long it will all take. The matter will be handled by Jeremy personally throughout.
If you wish to discuss any family law matter please contact Jeremy Woodford on:
The information given below refers to procedure in a divorce and accordingly makes reference to marriage, a spouse and a Decree of Divorce. Insofar as there are differences between the procedure and that of civil partnership further information is given in the final paragraph of this section.
You need to have been married for at least one year & then prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The grounds to do so are adultery, behaviour (known more typically as unreasonable behaviour), desertion (for at least two years), separation for at least two years (where the other spouse consents) & separation for five years (where no consent is required). From start to finish the process will typically take between five & six months assuming the procedure is undefended & both spouses co-operate
You will need to provide us with details of the grounds & the original or an official copy of your Marriage Certificate. If you do not have one, a copy can be obtained from the Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages. All Petitions in this area have to be issued in the London and South East Divorce Centre which in turn can be found at the Bury St Edmunds Divorce Centre in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. So long as the procedure is undefended generally there will not be a Court Hearing where you need to attend. If the proceedings were to be defended then it is likely a Court attendance would be necessary. You can instruct us wherever you may live; you do not have to be resident within the locality of our offices.
It is necessary to prove that the papers have been served & so in some cases the papers may have to be personally delivered to your spouse. Provided service can be proven, in a Petition based on the grounds of behaviour, desertion, or five years' separation it would still be possible to proceed to the stage of Decree, even if your spouse ignored the papers. For a Petition based on adultery generally an admission of the adultery is required, & for two years' separation your spouse's written consent must be obtained. Most divorces are undefended but should your divorce be contested then please contact us and we will advise you what needs to be done and the potential costs involved.
Provided one of you is habitually resident in England or Wales, the Court would have jurisdiction to deal with the matter. Where the marriage ceremony took place abroad, in most cases it should be recognised by the Courts, though where the Certificate is in a foreign language a translation will be required.
It is not necessary to identify the children in the Petition though their dates of birth can be given for statistical purposes. However if there is an issue over the children then it is normally a requirement that the parties first attend a Mediation Appointment before a Court Application can be made. It is always recommended to first attempt Mediation or other Conciliation and a Court Application should only be made if there is no choice.
The general rule is that the Court will not make an Order unless it is necessary. In other words, so long as you & your spouse have agreed the arrangements for your children, in particular if there is to be a primary carer who that will be, where they will reside & how often the non-resident parent will see them, then the Court will not intervene. Only in the case where there is a dispute over these issues & a party makes an application as a consequence, will a Court Order be necessary....
No, a Financial Order can be made on or at any time after pronouncement of Decree Nisi within the divorce proceedings. However, it is desirable to try & agree financial terms before the divorce is finalised if at all possible. Negotiations to reach an agreement can be through Mediation, collaborative law or negotiation between solicitors. If an agreement cannot be reached either one of you can make a financial claim against the other & the Court will then be invited to determine the matter. In most cases parties will be required to attend a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting before a Court Application can be made. It is important to realise that by bringing the marriage to an end this does not also determine the financial settlement. The right by either one of you to make a financial claim against the other remains open indefinitely unless a Court Order is made. Should either one of you re-marry, that would also bring to an end that party's right to make a claim.
The Divorce Decree is in two parts, the Decree Nisi is pronounced at Court & then six weeks must pass before the Petitioner can apply to have the Decree made Absolute, in other words final. At that point you would be able to re-marry & your Decree Absolute would be required on re-marriage as evidence of your divorce.
The grounds for civil partnership are broadly the same as those for divorce except that adultery does not apply. The references given to a spouse refer equally to a civil partner. A period of one year still has to elapse before a Petition for a Dissolution of the civil partnership can be presented to the Court. Upon conclusion of the proceedings a Dissolution Order will be made rather than a Decree of Divorce