Understanding Divorce

Navigating the complexities of the divorce process can be overwhelming, especially if you’re finding it difficult to understand the legalities and procedural nuances. However, understanding the different types of divorces available in the UK can help make this journey easier, providing clarity and direction during a hard time.

In the UK, the divorce process has significantly changed with the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act 2020, which came into effect in April 2022. This new law has introduced the concept of “no-fault” divorce, aiming to simplify the process.

Beyond this significant change, there are several types of divorce processes available, each suited to different situations and needs.

The “no-fault” divorce is a new legislation which gives couples the chance to divorce without any party blaming the other. The aim of this law is to reduce conflict and make the process as seamless as possible. You can apply for a divorce either alone or with your partner, by simply stating that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and there is no need to present any evidence of misdeeds. There is a mandatory minimum period of 20 weeks between the start of the proceedings and the application for a conditional order, followed by a further 6 weeks before the final order can be granted.

While the “no-fault” legislation has become the default, it is still possible for one party to contest the divorce, although this happens quite rarely now. This process is referred to as a “contested” divorce, and it occurs when one party disagrees with the divorce, or the terms proposed. This can lead to a court hearing where a judge will decide the outcome of the matter.

On the other hand, if both parties agree on the divorce, and the terms proposed, the process is referred to as an “uncontested” divorce. Since there is mutual consent and understanding, the process tends to be straightforward, involving filing the necessary paperwork and obtaining the final order without the need for a court hearing.

A “dissolution of civil partnership” is like divorce, but for civil partners. The process is similar to that of a marriage and can be initiated by one or both parties. This process follows the “no-fault” principle and can be initiated by one or both parties, as long as it’s stated that the partnership has irretrievably broken down.

Another type of divorce is called an “annulment”. This is a legal procedure that declares a marriage null and void, as if it never existed. This is, however, only acceptable on certain grounds where the marriage wasn’t legally valid. For instance, if one partner was already married, or the marriage wasn’t consummated. Moreover, unlike divorce, an annulment can be sought at any time.

An alternative to divorce is called a “judicial separation”. This is for couples who don’t wish to end their marriage but want to live apart and formalise their separation. The way this works is one party applies for a judicial separation by citing one of the five facts that previously supported a divorce. These would be: one of the parties committed adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or there was a two-year separation with consent, or five-year separation without consent.

Ultimately, understanding the different types of divorce can help you choose the best path. It is important to consider your specific needs and circumstances, as each type of divorce offers distinct processes. With any divorce, choosing a lawyer you can trust and rely on will make the whole process easier and less stressful. Aston Bond’s family lawyer has all the experience you’ll need to feel confident and supported throughout the process. Don’t hesitate to contact us on 01753 486 777 or email us at info@astonbond.co.uk.

Why Parties Should Apply For Decree Absolute With Caution

The document most parties look forward to receiving is their Decree Absolute.   This is the final document in Divorce Proceedings and legally ends a marriage in England and Wales.    However, this does not bring an end to the parties’ financial claims unless the parties have already agreed the financial aspect of their case and have agreed a Consent Order which has or is to be submitted to the Court for sealing.


If parties fail to deal with the financial issues and do not obtain a Court Order with a Clean Break,  where possible, none of their respective claims are dismissed under statute and either party may make an application for Financial Orders in the future which can be very distressing, especially if the parties have entered into a new relationship or even remarried.


The party may lose some or all of their rights in respect of future claims against their ex-spouse.  Thus parties should not remarry however tempting until they have a sealed Court Order in respect of their financial settlement.


The Financial proceedings in a divorce case come to an end upon their spouse’s death.   It would then be necessary for them to commence proceedings under the Inheritance Provision (for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 on behalf of themselves or children of the family but they would have to show a need and these proceedings are expensive.


If Decree Nisi has been pronounced but no application has been made for Decree Absolute then the surviving spouse will be entitled to all of the benefits that they are entitled to as a widow or widower.

This means that certain assets may only be transferred to the deceased party’s spouse.  Prime examples are pension funds and sometimes trust funds.   

If you wish to discuss applying for Decree Absolute or obtaining a Financial Settlement please do not hesitate to telephone our Senior Family Solicitor Lynette A’Court on 07754662438 for your free initial consultation.

Divorce Process Overview

Divorce Process Overview

The divorce process: A marriage is dissolved by a decree of divorce which is pronounced after one party has filed a Divorce Petition in the English Court which asserts the irretrievable breakdown of marriage. This has to be proved by one of five grounds, these are:

  • Adultery,
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two Years Desertion
  • Two Years Separation by Consent
  • Five Years Separation.

The grounds most often used are Unreasonable Behaviour or Adultery.

Once Divorce Proceedings are underway the Court has power to make financial orders against each party, provided that an Application is made to Court, this is another part of the divorce process.

Financial Matters and Divorce

The principal statute is the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.  Sections 23 and 24 establish the Court’s range of powers which are:  lump sum orders, property adjustment orders, periodical payments orders (maintenance orders) pension  orders, orders for sale of property and the division of the proceeds, variation of trusts.

Clearly some of these powers relate to income provision and some to capital provision.  In a normal middle asset case an award might be a mixture of both types of order, but in a high asset case the award will generally be just for capital.   The Court only has power to make orders against the husband and wife, not third parties.

When the Court considers making an order it must take into account Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, namely:-

  • Interests of the children paramount
  • Age of the parties
  • Capital and income resources
  • Capital and income needs and obligations
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Contributions to the welfare of the family made during the marriage or in the future
  • Misconduct (This is very rarely applied)
  • Value of lost benefits because of divorce
  • The need, if possible without hardship, to achieve a financial clean break between the parties
  • All of the circumstances of the case

The above points tell the court what to take into account but they do not say how or what the objective for the Judge should be.  The final decision for the Judge as to the award he or she makes is discretionary.  The above points are not in order of priority but in some cases one factor will be more important than another.

THE LEADING CASES ARE:  WHITE –v- WHITE (2001)  MILLER –v- MILLER and McFARLANE –v- McFARLANE (joint appeals) (2006)  CHARMAN –v- CHARMAN (2007) and RADMACHER –v- GRANATINO (2010)

From the above cases the following principles have arisen

  • The Court will take into account all of the parties resources, valued realistically in the event that the case proceeds to trial and is not settled the Court will be looking at the valuations as at the date of trial.
  • The resources will be distributed between the parties fairly.

Fairness has three strands, meeting the parties needs, sharing and compensation.


To ascertain and meeting the parties needs is the basis upon which the majority of cases are determined.   When assessing needs the Court will look at the resources and the standard of  living of the parties  during the marriage and the length of the marriage.  The needs of both parties to the marriage are very important.

The main needs are for housing and income.  Due to the breakdown of the marriage and the parties requiring separate homes.    It is unlikely that the housing need will be at the same level as the matrimonial home.  It can be however, if there are high assets.

The income needs will be assessed by reference to a claimed list of expenditure and to the marital standard of living.  Ridiculous claims will not be taken into account.  The Court can order periodical payments for maintenance and may order a lump sum payment of money.

The Court will decide if the income provision should be for the whole life or for some shorter period (a term:  the length of the marriage,  a period of time to give the other party time to re-establish their career,   when the children cease full-time education or such term as ordered by the Court).


Rarely used as needs are usually used.


If the total capital resources exceeds the sum required to meet the needs of both parties, the Court will consider sharing the rest unless the wealth has come from an inheritance or from funds of the parties prior to the marriage.    With inherited wealth the Court usually look to the party who received the Inheritance retaining it but should there  be a need it will be used in the financial settlement.

The essential rule is that wealth built up during the marriage should be shared equally irrespective of the roles of the parties, whether money-making or home-making. To do otherwise would be discriminatory and unlawful. The wealth for sharing is called The Matrimonial Property.

Non Matrimonial Property

This consists of wealth brought into the marriage by one party or wealth inherited during the marriage or to a lesser extent wealth generated after the parties separation

Non Matrimonial Property is not completely excluded.    It is completely included if it is needed to meet needs.  Also it may transform into matrimonial property over time if it is mingled or merged (especially over a long marriage).

Unequal sharing of matrimonial property can be ordered in very high asset cases if the Court finds the money maker has made a special contribution.


The Court will take into account all of the parties assets anywhere in the world and whether or not they are held in their own names or through another entity. Both parties must make full and frank disclosure of their resources and give documentary proof to prove their disclosure.  Failure to make full and frank disclosure may result in any settlement being set aside.

If you require assistance with the divorce process please do not hesitate to contact us here. We offer a free initial consultation to every new client, so get in touch today. 01753 486 777

Lynette A’Court

Head of Family Law


Divorce Do’s And Don’ts

Divorce Do’s and Don’ts

Divorce is often a traumatic and stressful time for families. Here is a list of our top five divorce do’s and don’ts.


  1. Make absolutely sure you wish to Divorce. Consider attending a marriage guidance counsellor or a mediator to discuss your marital problems.
  2. If you decide to proceed with divorce it is very important that you obtain expert legal advice from a specialist family solicitor.
  3. Prepare a schedule of your income, outgoings, assets and debts. Try and encourage your spouse to do likewise so that you are aware of the matrimonial assets and your financial situation.
  4. Do at all times put your children first. It is of paramount importance that you both continue to co-parent your children at all times. Keep the family lifestyle at home as normal as possible.
  5. Keep a diary of major events that occur during the proceedings, if any.


  1. Do not argue over what is to go into the Divorce Petition. Your solicitor will advise you on this aspect. The ground for divorce is “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. This is proven by one of five facts; adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation by consent or five years separation. The usual facts used are unreasonable behaviour, adultery or two years separation. With two years separation the other spouse must consent to the divorce otherwise you cannot use this ground.
  2. Do not criticise your spouse in front of the children or try to make the children take sides. Avoid using the children as messengers between yourself and your spouse.
  3. Do not prevent your spouse from visiting the children if you are living separately. Try and agree a schedule in respect of your spouse’s visits, holidays contact etc.  If necessary obtain your solicitor’s assistance with this.
  4. Do not introduce a new partner to your children during the early stages of divorce.
  5. Do not under any circumstances, argue over the proceedings in front of the children or cause harm to your spouse.

– Lynette A’Court

For any legal assistance or advice with divorce, separation or child access issues, contact our family law specialists here or call 01753 486 777.

Child Arrangements During Christmas

Child arrangements during Christmas can be tricky, it’s a magical time for children but when parents are in the midst of a separation or divorce, and this can often be a particularly emotional or lonely time of year for all concerned. In order to ease the transition for children at this difficult time, parents are encouraged to find ways to ensure children are able to spend quality time at Christmas with both parents and their families, either separately or, in certain cases where both parents agree, with both parents together.

Despite the breakdown in their relationship both parents too owe it to themselves to work together to experience the joy of seeing their children’s faces light up when they open the presents they have received from Santa at Christmas. Unless there are issues of domestic violence or other compelling reasons, children should not be deprived of seeing each parent at this joyous time of the year and enjoying the excitement of the festive season with their parents. Arranging child arrangements during Christmas is important to think of leading up to the holidays.

Situations such as where a father is only permitted by the mother to deliver the children’s sack of presents and he is deprived of seeing his children or indeed ensuring that they will ever receive the presents, should be avoided where possible. Similarly, where the resident parent books a holiday abroad throughout the Christmas holiday period (and informs the other parent that they will not see their children until their children’s arrangements visit in the New Year) tensions can arise which can quickly escalate at this time of year. Conversely, gestures such as parents purchasing or encouraging children to purchase a present for the other parent (or simply make a Christmas card for the other parent) can ultimately lead to a more harmonious and peaceful Christmas experience for all concerned.

When parents separate they should agree a children’s arrangements schedule to include all of the holiday periods throughout the year, to include, Easter holidays, summer holidays, Christmas holidays, New Years Eve, New Year’s Day and half term holidays as well as children’s arrangements generally.

We set out below some examples of child arrangements during Christmas:-

  • Year 1: The children stay Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with their mother and stay Boxing Day and the following Day with their father. Year 2: The children stay Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with their father and stay Boxing Day and the following day with their mother. Thereafter this arrangement to continue to alternate each year.
  • The children spend Christmas Day with both parents at the family home and the children spend Boxing Day with their mother during Year 1 and Boxing Day with their father during Year 2. This arrangement to continue on alternative Boxing Days.
  • Year 1: The children stay with their mother on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and they stay with their father on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Year 2: The children stay with their father on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and stay with their mother on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. This arrangement to continue on alternative years.

In the event that children’s arrangements cannot be agreed by the parents (or through mediation or collaborative law) then parents should consult a solicitor and make an application to court; whose main goal will be the welfare of the children.

Our experienced team at Aston Bond are always available to assist you in respect of children issues.