Collaborative divorce begins with you, your partner and your solicitors signing a 'participation agreement’. A participation agreement is a legally binding document to say that you will all work together and come to a final agreement on your divorce. Your solicitors will work as a team to guide you through discussions (called four-way meetings), giving you advice, making suggestions, testing options and steering you towards an agreement. Other expert advisers might also be able to attend the meeting to give extra assistance.
Arbitration during divorce is a way of sorting out your finances and what happens after your divorce. Arbitration is a way of keeping your divorce out of court, controlling the costs and can help you reach a financial settlement amicably.
The first step in divorce arbitration is for both partners to choose an arbitrator. An arbitrator is a divorce solicitor who specialises in arbitration. Your solicitor will represent your interests, give you advice and negotiate with your former partner’s arbitrator. Together, you’ll talk about and settle the issues in your divorce you agree are important. Your agreement becomes a legally binding decision called an ‘award’.
A parenting plan is an agreement between divorced parents about how to raise their children after the divorce. Both parents need to agree to the plan. A parenting plan can be changed at any time, for example as the children grown up, provided both parents agree.
If you’re married, you will both have parental responsibility if you get divorced. If you’re unmarried the mother automatically has parental responsibility from the child’s birth. Unmarried fathers only get parental responsibility if their name is on the child’s birth certificate, have a Court Order granting it or a legally binding agreement with the mother.
Regardless of who has parental responsibility, the non-residential parent is required to contribute financially to their children’s maintenance. If the ‘paying’ parent is not paying child maintenance, a solicitor can help you take action to enforce the payments. This may be through a deduction of earnings request, where child maintenance payments are automatically taken from the paying parents’ wages or pension.
To get divorced, you must prove that your marriage has broken down. Legally this is referred to as the ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’. There are five ways to prove this, known as the give ‘grounds’ for divorce. They are:
• Unreasonable behaviour
• Two years’ separation with consent
• Five years’ separation without consent
• Two years’ desertion.
• You must be married for at least one year to get divorced.
A straightforward divorce usually takes between 9 and 12 months to complete. Your divorce may take longer, or be faster, depending on your situation. For example, if you cannot agree key issues with your partner, your divorce could take longer.
There are various Court fees payable if you want to end your civil partnership. The Court fees are payable whether you use a solicitor or handle the dissolution yourself. Examples of Court fees include:
Depending on your individual circumstances, you may have to pay additional Court fees.
Legal fees cover the cost of things like the solicitor or mediator’s time advising you, preparing documents and representing you at Court (if required).
Domestic violence can include any incident of threatening behaviour or violence and is a criminal offence. Types of domestic violence include: