You & Your Family

Getting a Divorce - Frequently Asked Questions

We've taken some of the most popular questions that we get asked by our clients when they come to us to get a divorce. Most of the time getting a divorce can be straightforward, however the complexities come when there's children involved, property, pets or quite simply, when both parties do not agree.

We've been working with clients for over 150 years, although times have changed, our values have stayed the same, to help clients in a way that is fair. As the world is constantly evolving, we know there may be many more questions you want answering.

Email your question to us: enquiries@fisherslaw.co.uk and we'll add it to this page.

What are the grounds for divorce?

If you and your partner have been married for at least a year, you will be eligible for divorce. There are, however, certain grounds for divorce that you need to demonstrate in order to get a divorce.

There are five legally acceptable grounds for divorce:

  • Adultery (under current UK law, only sex between partners of opposite genders qualifies as adultery)
  • Unreasonable Behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years separation and an agreement from your partner to divorce
  • Five years separation, whether your partner agrees to the divorce or not

How long does a divorce take?

If your divorce is straightforward, it will usually take between six to eight months. You will just need to make sure that both parties deal with the court papers quickly. Speak to your solicitor if you wanted to speed up this process as it is possible, however costs will increase. Dealing with financial arrangements may impact the speed of your divorce.  However you can get divorced before any financial agreements have been made. Make sure you discuss your options with your solicitor first.

Why can’t you use adultery as grounds to end a same sex marriage or civil partnership?

Because current UK law defines adultery as being sex only between a man and a woman, this does not usually apply in cases of infidelity within a same sex marriage or civil partnership. Instead, infidelity between same sex partners has to come under the grounds of unreasonable behaviour.

If you are in a same sex marriage and your spouse has sex with someone of the opposite gender, this will be classed as adultery, however, in civil partnerships there is no provision for adultery at all, so this would still be classed as unreasonable behaviour.

Do you need to dissolve a civil partnership to get married?

If you are in a civil partnership and wish to convert this into a marriage, you do not need to dissolve your civil partnership first. You simply need to sign a ‘conversion into marriage’ declaration in an appointment with the superintendent registrar at your local register office.

How are children affected by divorce?

Relationship breakdown isn’t fun for any member of the family. However, it can be particularly confusing and upsetting for children. The impact of divorce on children will ultimately depend on your personal circumstances. However, typically, the more straightforward and harmonious the process, the easier your children will find it to transition.

This requires both parents to communicate well and minimise conflict wherever possible. Arguing parents can be a source of great stress to children, no matter their age. Alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation can be particularly helpful in this regard.

Mediation involves sitting down with a qualified mediator to discuss your separation arrangements. The mediator is not there to take sides or provide legal advice, but to guide your discussion and defuse conflict. By coming to an agreement in a neutral mediation environment, you can avoid exposing your children to stressful court proceedings, safeguarding their emotional wellbeing.

Who gets the house in a divorce with children?

There are no laws over who should get the house in a divorce. Typically, financial arrangements upon separation need to be fair for both parties. This may mean you need to sell the family home and split the equity.

However, you also need to take into account the needs of your children and the impact of moving at this difficult time. Ultimately, the welfare of your children should be your main consideration. For example, if the children have never moved before or they would also have to move schools, leaving the family home may not be the right solution.

One option is that the resident parent could buy the non-resident parent out of the home. However, this this isn’t always possible due to financial constraints. Another option is to allow the resident parent and the children to remain in the family home until the youngest turns 18 years old or they move out. Then the house can be sold.

Find out more about how we can help with your divorce.