The end of your marriage or civil partnership can be distressing, confusing and stressful. With so many practical and emotional issues to work through, you really don’t need the legal side of things to become another source of worry.
At Lewis Denley, we are here to make your life easier. Our Family Law team can you guide you through every step of divorce or civil partnership dissolution with sensitivity and empathy, offering clear, sensible advice to help you get the best outcome possible for your future.
Our divorce and civil partnership dissolution service is led by Senior Associate Solicitor Marwa Hadi-Barnes, who has over 14 years’ experience providing divorce advice.
Marwa has been recognised for her standout expertise in leading client guides the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. She is a member of family law network Resolution, an organisation that shares her commitment to removing conflict from divorce and separation.
Based in central Horsham, our divorce lawyers advise clients across Sussex, Surrey and beyond, including in Rudgwick, Billingshurst, Crawley, Ewhurst, Gatwick, Copthorne, Pulborough, Dorking, Regiate, Godalming, Guildford, Midhurst and Brighton.
Our family law pricing is clear and transparent, with options including fixed fee divorce to suit you.
We take pride in being approachable, helpful and here for our community.
We offer a free 30-minute consultation with Marwa Hadi-Barnes to discuss your divorce or civil partnership dissolution and how we can help.
Our divorce and civil partnership dissolution services
Initiating divorce proceedings or civil partnership dissolution proceedings
Our divorce solicitors in Horsham can help you with applying for a divorce or civil partnership dissolution, making sure every step of the process is covered and that no detail is missed. This can help your divorce or civil partnership dissolution to go ahead faster and more smoothly, removing the potential for unnecessary stress.
Responding to divorce proceedings or civil partnership dissolution proceedings
If your spouse or civil partner has initiated proceedings, our Horsham divorce and civil partnership dissolution lawyers can advise you on what you need to do, making sure you complete your part of the process correctly and promptly. We can also explain your options if you are unhappy with the contents of your spouse’s application e.g. if you disagree with the reasons they have cited for the breakdown of your relationship.
Division of finances during divorce and civil partnership dissolution
Our divorce solicitors in Horsham are experts in divorce finances, with particular experience dealing with complex assets such as pensions and business interests. Wherever possible, we will help you to reach an amicable divorce settlement, but we have the keen litigation skills needed to secure a fair division of marital finances through the courts where required.
See how we can help with divorce financial settlements and disputes.
Child arrangements during divorce and civil partnership dissolution
Where arrangements for children must be made, we will work closely with you to make sure your rights as a parent are respected, while ensuring your children’s best interests are protected at all times. Child arrangements are normally agreed through private negotiation or mediation, but we can assist with applying to a court for a Child Arrangements Order in contentious cases.
See how we can help with child arrangements.
Divorce and civil partnership dissolution FAQs
How long does a divorce take?
There is no set answer as it will depend on various factors, including how quickly you and your spouse complete the various stages of the divorce process. However, in general, most undefended divorces can be completed in around 4-6 months.
The following are some key timescales that can help to give an idea of how long the divorce process should take:
- It takes up to 10 days for online divorce applications to be processed and up to one month for postal applications – once this is completed a copy will be sent to your spouse.
- Your spouse must respond within eight days.
- If your spouse chooses to defend the divorce, they must submit their reasons for doing so within 28 days.
- Once your spouse has responded (and assuming they have not chosen to defend the divorce) you can apply for a decree nisi. Once you have this, you must wait 43 days to apply for the decree absolute that legally ends your marriage.
Do you need to attend a court hearing to get divorced?
Generally, no. As long as your spouse does not decide to defend the divorce and there is no issue in relation to who pays the costs of the divorce, then the whole process can usually be dealt with without the need to attend court.
This applies to both the divorce proceedings as well as sorting out divorce finances and arrangements for children, which are now typically resolved amicably through private negotiation, divorce mediation and other non-confrontational methods.
What are the grounds for divorce?
There is only one ground for divorce – that your marriage has permanently broken down. Under the current divorce rules in England and Wales, you must prove one of the following five reasons to support this:
Adultery – where your spouse has engaged in sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex. Same-sex infidelity instead falls under ‘unreasonable behaviour’ as does being unfaithful, without sexual intercourse. You must also find it intolerable to live with them as a result.
Behaviour – this is often known as “unreasonable behaviour” and covers a range of issues, from things such as a lack of communication and disagreements over money, to very serious issues, such as drug abuse and domestic violence. This behaviour must mean you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.
Desertion – where your spouse has left you for at least two years total out of the last two and half years without your consent, without a good reason and with the intention to end your relationship. This fact is rarely relied upon.
Separation for at least 2 years – if your spouse agrees to the divorce.
Separation for at least 5 years – whether your spouse agrees to the divorce or not.
However, this is all due to change thanks to the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, which will significantly reform how divorce and civil partnership dissolution works in England and Wales.
The Act will remove the concept of blame from divorce and civil partnership dissolution, so you will no longer need to assign blame as part of the process.
What are the rules for civil partnership dissolution?
The rules for civil partnership dissolution are similar to divorce, however the reason of adultery for the breakdown of a civil partnership does not exist. This must instead be dealt with under the provision for unreasonable behaviour.
How long do you have to be separated before divorce is automatic?
Two years, if both spouses agree to the divorce. Otherwise, you must wait five years. In either case, you still need to apply to a court for your marriage to be ended and your spouse will be notified as part of the process.
What happens if my spouse refuses to sign divorce papers?
You would need to apply for a court order to assert that the divorce petition be “deemed to have been served”. As part of your application, you will need to explain why such an order should be passed, including providing evidence of the efforts that have been made to deliver the divorce papers to your spouse and that they are refusing to sign them.
Can I get a ‘no fault’ divorce?
Currently, ‘no fault’ divorce is not an option in England and Wales. However, under the terms of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, ‘no fault’ divorce is due to be introduced to English law. The Act is set to come into force in autumn 2021, although no specific date for this has been announced yet.
Can you get a divorce online?
It is now normal to apply for a divorce online. Most of the rest of the divorce process can be handled online via email and videoconferencing where appropriate.
Our divorce solicitor’s fees
The legal costs involved in divorce and civil partnership dissolution can be a concern. We are committed to transparency with our family law pricing, so will always be upfront about the costs involved, including our fees and any third-party costs.
We offer fixed fee divorce where appropriate. We will be happy to discuss all the likely costs involved once we have a clearer picture of your requirements, which is something we can cover during your free initial consultation.
Book a free 30-minute consultation with our divorce lawyer
We want to make divorce and civil partnership dissolution as easy as possible. If you have any questions about how we can help you navigate this challenging time, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Our specialist divorce solicitor will be happy to offer a free 30-minute consultation over the phone or via videoconference.
To arrange your free 30-minute consultation, please contact Marwa Hadi-Barnes today.