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Agreed Divorce

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When you decide to divorce, it is a common fear that your husband or wife will oppose the divorce. However, the vast majority of divorces in the UK are not contested. Even when a spouse says they will defend divorce proceedings, after taking legal advice from a divorce solicitor, it is usual for the grounds for the divorce proceedings to be agreed and for the divorce  to go ahead unopposed.

Contact OTS Solicitors

To speak to a divorce solicitor about the grounds for starting divorce proceedings and the best way to achieve an agreed divorce call us on 0203 959 9123 for a discussion about how OTS Solicitors can help you. Alternatively, contact us through our online enquiry form.

 

Benefits of an agreed divorce  

Most people assume that a “divorce is a divorce” and that how you get divorced makes little difference to the end result. To an extent that is true. Whether you have an agreed divorce or a contested divorce, you should end up with a decree absolute of divorce. However, if possible, it is best to have an agreed divorce because:

  • An agreed divorce costs a lot less in legal fees than a contested divorce;

  • Although there are court hearings, with an agreed divorce you and your divorce solicitor will not need to attend the court hearings;

  • A contested divorce  will take longer to complete than agreed divorce proceedings;

  • If you are able to agree the grounds for the divorce proceedings it makes it more likely that you will also be able to agree any childcare arrangements and financial settlement;

  • Whilst any separation or divorce proceedings are emotional, an agreed divorce is a lot easier to cope with than defended divorce proceedings. 

 

Grounds for an agreed divorce

The grounds for an agreed divorce are the same as a contested divorce. The only difference is that your husband or wife is not opposing the divorce.  

 

The grounds for divorce proceedings are that a marriage has irretrievably broken down and:

  • Adultery has taken place (although the adultery does not have to be the cause of the marriage breakdown); or

  • Unreasonable behaviour on the part of one spouse; or

  • Living separate and apart for two years and your spouse agrees to a divorce (it can be possible to live in the same property but still be classed as having lived “separate and apart”) or

  • Desertion for a period of two years; or

  • Living separate and apart for five years or more (the definition of living “separate and apart” is the same as a two year separation) but after five years of separation the consent of your spouse is not required before divorce proceedings can be started.

It is commonly assumed that if you want an agreed divorce you will have to wait until you have been separated for two years before you can start agreed divorce proceedings. However, London divorce solicitors say that it is usual to start agreed divorce proceedings based on:

  • Adultery; or

  • Unreasonable behaviour; or

  • Two years separation with consent.

Therefore, if you want an agreed divorce there should be no need to defer starting divorce proceedings until you have been separated from your husband or wife for over two years.

 

Tips for an agreed divorce

Although it is not strictly necessary to agree the basis of the divorce proceedings before a divorce petition is sent to court, divorce solicitors  usually recommend that it is best to do so (unless, for example, there are domestic violence allegations, an emergency situation, or an international divorce with a choice of jurisdictions in which to start divorce proceedings).

 

The best tips for an agreed divorce are:

  • Talk to your husband or wife about the decision to start divorce proceedings and, after speaking to a divorce solicitor, try to agree on the basis for starting the divorce proceedings. Agreement can be reached by direct discussions or through solicitors;

  • A divorce solicitor will be able to advise you on the best way to secure an agreed divorce when unreasonable behaviour or adultery divorce proceedings are contemplated. They can advise on the minimum level of allegations required to secure an agreed divorce; 

  • Choose your divorce solicitor with care. You want a divorce solicitor who is pragmatic and will not inflame the situation, instead focussing on the goal of an agreed divorce;

  • The fact that divorce proceedings are started on adultery or unreasonable behaviour normally does not affect the childcare arrangements or financial settlement;

  • It is unnecessary to name a third party in adultery divorce proceedings;

  • Even if a husband or wife cannot agree on allegations of unreasonable behaviour you can still get an agreed divorce if the respondent to the divorce proceedings agrees that they want to get divorced, although they do not accept all the allegations of unreasonable behaviour;

  •  Co-operating about the timing of starting divorce proceedings and the basis for an agreed divorce is often in the best financial interests of a husband and wife.

     

Agreed divorce procedure 

If you want to start agreed divorce proceedings, the court process is:

  • The petitioner sends a divorce  petition and supporting paperwork to a divorce  court;

  • The court issues the divorce petition with a court case number and sends the divorce  petition to the respondent husband or wife;

  • The respondent completes an acknowledgement of service form saying they agree to the divorce;

  • The petitioner fills in a statement confirming that they want to continue with the divorce;

  • The court reviews the paperwork and, if appropriate, lists the divorce for pronouncement of decree nisi of divorce. It is not normally necessary for anyone to attend a decree nisi hearing in an agreed divorce;

  • After just over six weeks have elapsed from the date of pronouncement of decree nisi, the petitioner can apply for the decree absolute of divorce. The decree absolute concludes the divorce proceedings.     

 

Agreed divorce next steps

If a husband or wife decide to start agreed divorce proceedings it is just as important to get legal advice on the best financial settlement options and to get your divorce solicitor to record your financial settlement in a financial court order. Any agreed childcare arrangements should be written up in a parenting plan.

 

OTS divorce solicitors 

For expert legal advice on UK divorce and family law, contact OTS London divorce solicitors today for an informal chat on how divorce solicitor, Angelique Holm, and the dedicated divorce team can help you. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us using our online enquiry form
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