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Divorce Solicitors

Divorce can be tough for every member of the family. It is understandable to feel overwhelmed by questions about things like the division of your finances and where your children will live. But our specialist divorce solicitors don’t believe divorce has to be as stressful as most assume it to be. Our goal is to help you find a swift, positive and cost-effective resolution, providing friendly, professional support every step of the way.

Our expert divorce solicitors can help with every aspect of divorce, including handling the application process to legally end the marriage on your behalf and assisting with associated matters, including making a financial settlement and arrangements for children.

We firmly believe in promoting the non-combative resolution of family law matters. With us by your side, you probably will not need to go to court, saving you considerable time, costs and stress. If it is appropriate for your case, we can help you access methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) such as mediation and our team includes Resolution-qualified mediator, Mark Hensleigh.

Families come in all shapes and sizes so we don’t take one single approach to divorce cases. We hope to get to know you as an individual as well as your goals so we can tailor our advice and give you the best possible chance of achieving the outcome you want.

For further information or to set up a confidential initial consultation with a member of our team, give us a call at our office or email office@prestonredman.co.uk. Our clients come to us from across Bournemouth, Poole and the wider Dorset area for our expertise and friendly, personal approach.

What our divorce solicitors in Bournemouth can do for you

We can help you sort out every aspect of your divorce, including:

  • Advice about applying for divorce and the reasons, including:
    • Adultery
    • Unreasonable behaviour
    • Desertion
    • Separation for at least 2 years (with your partner’s consent)
    • Separation for at least 5 years (no consent required)
  • Making the formal application
  • Responding to a divorce petition made by your partner
  • Court representation for defended divorce petitions
  • Advice on making a financial settlement, including Alternative Dispute Resolution such as mediation
  • Advice on making arrangements for children
  • Domestic violence and injunctions advice

Divorce petitions

The majority of divorce proceedings go undefended, usually because couples are agreed about their decision to divorce. However, in some rare situations you or your partner may be opposed to the petition, for example, because:

  • One of you does not want to get divorced
  • One of you does not agree with the reasons relied upon in the divorce petition

In England and Wales, we have what is often referred to as “fault divorce” which means you must rely on a “reason” to get divorced. Simply not wanting to be married anymore is not sufficient so most couples rely on “unreasonable behaviour”.

There are plans to change the law on divorce in the near future to “no fault divorce” where you do not have to give a reason. However, for now we can talk you through the acceptable reasons for divorce, help you make the application, and represent you in court if your partner unfortunately decides to challenge the petition.

Financial settlements

We can help you come to a divorce financial settlement which fairly divides your assets and protects your financial position so you can move on with your life feeling safe and financially secure.

Generally, couples are able to reach a settlement informally, without involving the courts. Where appropriate, we can help you access methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution, such as mediation, which have a strong success rate for helping divorcing couples come to fair, amicable agreements. We can also apply to court for a Consent Order to make your financial settlement binding once you are happy with it.

Your financial settlement should set out how assets such as the following should be arranged and divided:

  • The family home
  • Any second homes, holiday homes and buy-to-lets
  • Savings
  • Investments
  • Pensions
  • Family businesses
  • Cars
  • Personal belongings and family heirlooms

The settlement should also set out your arrangements for spousal maintenance and child maintenance payments.

Arrangements for children

Understandably, decisions about children are often the most contentious issues between divorcing couples. The happiness and welfare of your children will be absolutely central to our advice. We aim to help you reach a suitable agreement which works for all members of the family. Like financial settlements, ADR methods such as mediation are great for helping families come to an arrangement in a positive, neutral environment, reducing the risk of conflict.

We can help you answer questions such as:

  • Where your children will live
  • How much time they will spend with their non-resident parent
  • Other issues such as where they will go to school, whether they can go abroad on holiday, and whether one parent can change their name(s)

Why choose Preston Redman’s divorce solicitors

At Preston Redman, we combine professional family law knowledge with a warm, approachable and personal service. Based in Bournemouth, we welcome clients from across the town as well as nearby Poole and the wider Dorset area.

Whatever the circumstances of your divorce, we want you to feel comfortable, supported, and able to talk openly about your situation. We will always prioritise your personal interests and the welfare of your children and aim to achieve a resolution which works for you in the long term.

Amongst our extensive expertise, we are members of the Law Society Family Law Advanced Accreditation Scheme and Tim Flower is an accredited specialist of the Family Law Panel. Two members of our team, Mark Hensleigh and Helen Davies, are members of Resolution and Mark is also a qualified mediator.

Preston Redman is independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Divorce FAQs

How does the divorce process work?

There are several stages to the divorce process:

  • Either you or your partner can apply for the divorce petition (who applies does not affect the outcome of the divorce). The person who applies is called the petitioner or the applicant. The person who responds is called the respondent
  • The petition must be served on the respondent who is given time to respond either agreeing to the divorce or objecting
  • If they object, you will likely need to go to court to argue your reasons
  • If they agree, the court will usually make a decree nisi – also known as a conditional divorce order
  • After six weeks and one day from the date of the decree nisi, the applicant can make an application for a decree absolute which makes the divorce final
  • If the applicant fails to apply for the decree absolute, the respondent can apply three months or the earliest date from which the applicant was allowed to apply (i.e. four and a half months after the decree nisi)

The process of working out finances and arrangements for children is separate to the main process of applying for a divorce.

What are the grounds for divorce?

There is really only one ground for divorce – the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship.

To prove that the relationship has irretrievably broken down, you must rely on one or more ‘facts’ or ‘reasons’:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Separation for at least two years with the consent of both parties
  • Separation for at least five years, no consent needed
  • Desertion for at least two years

Our divorce solicitors can provide fierce representation on your behalf during any court proceedings and emotional support to help you through this challenging time.

Do you need to have a reason to get a divorce?

At the moment, you must have rely on one or more of the five reasons above. If your partner does not object to the divorce, it is unlikely that the court will refuse. However, if your partner contests the divorce, you will likely have to go to court to prove your reasons.

This process is changing. From autumn 2021, no-fault divorce will be introduced and divorcing couples will no longer have to rely on the five facts. They will also be able to make a joint application for divorce if the decision to separate is mutual. In most cases, it probably is not worth waiting until autumn 2021 to get a divorce. However, if you are worried about your partner objecting to the divorce, contact us for further advice about the best way forward.

How long does divorce take?

It depends. Straightforward divorces tend to take around 4-6 months, depending on factors such as:

  • Whether your partner agrees to the divorce
  • The reasons relied upon
  • How swiftly you are able to agree financial matters and arrangements for children
  • Whether you need to go to court for a decision about finances and/or children

Will I have to go to court to get a divorce?

Most divorces can be worked out without the parties having to go to court. However, there may be one or more court hearings if a dispute arises, such as:

  • A dispute over whether the divorce should be granted
  • A dispute over finances
  • A dispute over arrangements for children

Fixed fee divorce

What will you pay?

The total fee is £1,750 assuming there are no unforeseen problems. For the avoidance of doubt, the full fee will be payable even if you withdraw from the process, at any stage.

  1. £700 – payable at your first meeting
  2. £650 – payable when the divorce petition is ready to be 'issued' by the Court – the Court fee payable at this stage is covered below
  3. £400 – payable when we apply for the Decree Nisi.

The fees break down as follows: -

  • Our Fees + VAT = £1,200
  • Court fee on filing the petition = £550.00

Total: £1,750

What work is covered?

This plan covers the preparation and issue of the Divorce Petition and all the steps that need to be taken to obtain the Decree Absolute.

Should the matter become more complex, for example your spouse defends the proceedings or files a Cross Petition (seeking a cross divorce against you), we reserve the right to increase the costs according to the extra work incurred. Should this happen, we will notify you as soon as practicable, and before any additional costs are involved. We will give you an estimate of the likely increase in the fees, and outline the additional work we will need to undertake. If the Petition is defended, the procedure becomes more complex and differs from that outlined in the following pages. We will explain the revised procedure to you at the time.

The other problem that may occur, and which will increase the fees, is if your spouse fails to return the Acknowledgement of Service Form. On issuing the Papers, the Court posts the Petition to your spouse or their solicitors. If your spouse fails to deal with the papers it may become necessary to have a further set of the papers delivered by hand by an Enquiry Agent so that the divorce can progress. If this is necessary, our fees will increase by the cost of the Enquiry Agent’s fees. Usually we are able to give you an indication in advance of the likely cost.

What work is not covered?

  • Any work that is necessary if the Petition becomes defended, or needs to be altered (amended) once it has been issued by the Court
  • Enquiry Agents fees if the papers have to be served personally on your spouse (as explained above)
  • The fee for obtaining a copy marriage certificate (£9.00)
  • Any advice and proceedings concerning property, finances and children

How will any subsequent proceedings relating to your property or any children be paid for?

The financial aspects of your divorce and any issues concerning your children will need to be addressed, and are not covered by this package. We are usually able to give you a clear indication of the likely costs involved.

Financial Matters

A divorce will almost always involve financial aspects. Sometimes these aspects are agreed between the parties and merely require solicitors to assist in putting those agreements into effect. On other occasions, the parties do not agree what settlement should be made and will require the assistance of the Court. In each of these cases, we can help. We have helped achieve thousands of successful divorce settlements, both simple and complicated. In each and every case we will strive to obtain the best divorce settlement for you.

If you become involved in financial proceedings in divorce which involve Court proceedings (known as “ancillary relief proceedings”) then we can help. Those proceedings usually involve attendance at Court on at least one occasion, usually two and in limited cases three or more. We will be there to help and represent you on what we know can be very stressful occasions. If necessary, we will instruct a barrister on your behalf to represent you in more complicated matters but we will always be clear and transparent as to the costs involved. We aim to achieve a divorce settlement that is good for you whilst being mindful of the cost both in financial and emotional terms to you and your family.

Get in touch with our divorce solicitors in Bournemouth, Dorset

For further information or to set up a confidential initial consultation with a member of our team, give us a call at our office or email office@prestonredman.co.uk. Our clients come to us from across Bournemouth, Poole and the wider Dorset area for our expertise and friendly, personal approach.