Divorce is sadly increasingly common. The latest statistics show that 42% of UK marriages end up in divorce. And relationship breakdown can cause massive stress. Our expert Divorce and Family Law team understand that. So that’s why we strongly recommend early legal advice from specialist Family Law Solicitors so that you understand your options and can start planning to safeguard your position.
And if we can’t see you face-to-face, our Solicitors are happy to run your case by phone, Zoom video call or email.
No-fault divorce update. The new era of no-fault divorce is now in force. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, which ushers in a new age of no-blame divorce, took effect on 6th April 2022 (for details see below).
We are Divorce and Family Law specialists
Our Family Law practice is the largest in Salisbury, Andover, Amesbury and now Fordingbridge [following our merger on with long established Fordingbridge Solicitors, Jacksons].
Locally, our team has unrivalled experience, providing legal advice to clients locally throughout Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset and further afield.
Our 4 specialist Family Lawyers are genuine experts – family law and divorce is all they do.
Call or Email Us Now for Your FREE Specialist Divorce and Family Law Advice.
Relationship problems? Let our lawyers put your mind at rest.
In our experience many people going through relationship breakdown understandably worry about their position. We strongly recommend getting in touch with a specialist solicitor as soon as possible – that initial legal advice, which can sometimes be taken over the phone, may be all you need to put your mind at rest – and don’t forget, here at Bonallack and Bishop, that first phone call, and your first 30 minute appointment, are both FREE.
Our Family Law team offer FREE phone advice and a FREE first 1/2 hour appointment – face-to-face, by phone or Zoom video
Our highly experienced Family Solicitors provide legal advice on all aspects of family law including:
- Adoption and Special Guardianship Orders
- Arbitration. Click here to read more about the new approach of arbitration in family law disputes
- Child law including contact and residence issues. Click here to find out more about children law
- Divorce law and procedure
- Domestic violence and injunctions. Click here to find out more about how our Domestic Violence Solicitors can help you.
- Family Mediation – Click here to find out more about family mediation
- Financial issues in divorce (often referred to by courts and lawyers as ancillary relief) including pensions. Click here to find out more about divorce and your financial settlement
- Grandparent contact
- International child abduction
- Judicial Separation – Click here to read more about judicial separation
- Military divorce – all aspects of divorce and family law for Army and other military personnel.
Click here to find out more about how we can help, and about our exclusive 10% discount to all serving and retired Army and other HM Forces personnel on all our military law services,
- Relationship breakdown and property rights
- Separation agreements
If your marriage has broken down and you need a divorce, you are considering separation or you need legal advice on other family law problems, our Family Solicitors can see you in our Salisbury, Andover, Fordingbridge or Amesbury offices where our team will deal with you swiftly and with discretion.
New “no fault” divorce changes
The changes in divorce law in England Wales are significant and came into effect on April 6, 2022 – and they represent the first change for 50 years.
The new divorce process has changed as follows:
- the requirement to prove what is known as 1 of the the ‘five facts’ is entirely removed. So, for example, you will no longer to need to prove say “unreasonable behaviour” or adultery. Instead you will only need to provide the court with a statement of “irretrievable breakdown”
- defending a divorce is no longer be possible
- a joint application for divorce becomes available for the 1st time
- some of the terminology is simplified, using plain English rather than out of date legal phrases. So, for example, ‘decree nisi’ becomes a conditional order and ‘decree absolute’ will be known as a final order. All of these changes also apply to civil partnership dissolution
Click here to read more about our £600 Fixed Fee Divorce Service
I heard that government will be reforming the way finally finances are split? Is there any further news on that?
Yes, informal announcements have been made but there is nothing definite yet. The most useful indication yet was that on March 8, 2023, the Justice Minister Lord Bellamy told the House of Lords that family lawyers will have to wait “at least two years” to see any potential reforms of ‘out of date’ laws governing financial provision on divorce. So nothing definite at all.
Getting the right family law advice
We understand exactly how traumatic divorce and relationship breakdown can be. That’s why our team are able to help you with the sympathetic, sensitive and practical legal advice you need.
What’s more, here at Bonallack & Bishop we are absolutely committed to assisting our clients to deal with their legal problems, wherever possible, in a non-confrontational and constructive manner. We look for solutions not problems and think that’s particularly important when there are children involved, when avoiding unnecessary arguments between parents is so very important. That’s why we are big fans of family mediation.
Click here to find out more about family mediation, how it works and how it could help you.
Four reasons to choose us for your divorce
• Our locally based family law team are genuine experts – unlike many other Solicitors, divorce and family law is all they do, and together, they have many years of experience helping thousands of people just like you settle the legal issues surrounding relationship breakdown.
• We offer FREE phone advice and a full FREE 1/2 hour no strings attached initial interview on any aspect of divorce or family law
- We offer a Fixed Free Divorce service
• You can talk to one of our team about your relationship breakdown problems either in face to face meetings at one of our offices in Salisbury, Fordingbridge, Amesbury or Andover – or by phone, e-mail or video call. It’s your choice.
And don’t forget, we’re not just family lawyers. Bonallack & Bishop cover the full range of legal problems. Our family solicitors work closely with other teams in the firm when advising on related property issues and changing your will.
Divorce – Can I switch my lawyer?
Are you unhappy with your current divorce lawyer? Are there communication problems? Do you find that your calls are not being returned promptly, is your case just not getting the attention it deserves, or perhaps you have simply lost confidence in their ability to properly represent you.
Appointing a new lawyer doesn’t have to be difficult and finding the right lawyer for you could make a real difference to your settlement.
But if you are unhappy with your current lawyer, we suggest the following:
- Talk to them and explain your concerns – there may be a simple misunderstanding between you.
- Don’t sack your current lawyer until you have found a new one – you don’t want to risk any time without legal representation.
- Never switch lawyers just before a court hearing.
- Don’t forget that you will need to pay your existing lawyer’s bill before they release your file to you or your new lawyer.
- Accept that it is going to take a little time for your new lawyer to become familiar with your case – and that you will be billed for the time they take to get up to speed.
The financial side of divorce – five myths
If you are about to go through a divorce, you are probably struggling with difficult emotional issues. However, it can also be difficult to face up to the financial consequences of divorce, particularly when there are so many myths about how family assets are split.
Here are five popular misconceptions about divorce.
1. All assets are always split 50:50 when you get divorced
This is perhaps the most common myth and whilst assets are sometimes divided roughly equally, it is not an absolute rule. The division of assets depends entirely on your personal situation. While a simple and equal division may be fair in some cases, it may not prove reasonable in another. The courts recognise this.
If one partner earns significantly less than another, they may find that the court considers it unfair to give them half – but if they have made significant contributions in the home, that may increase their share. The court will consider the length of the marriage, the assets in question, the relevant contributions of the spouses, the age of any children and who they will be living with and the ages of both parties in any ruling.
2. Pensions are irrelevant to financial settlements
This is a complete myth. Pensions are in fact a key asset in divorce proceedings and both the husband and wife’s pensions are considered as part of the marital pot. Dividing pensions can be very complicated and there are a number of ways of doing this – so it is important that you get expert legal and financial advice from divorce specialists.
Click here for more information about pension splitting.
3. When I get divorced the house the money and the children will all be sorted out
Unfortunately this is not the case. Divorce is essentially only the legal recognition of your separation. When you get your decree absolute there may still be financial and child contact arrangements to sort out – including the division of assets such as pensions or shares and who (if anyone) gets to stay in the marital home.
In order to finalise these kind of financial issues, you will need to make a different application to court. Whilst it is up to you whether or not you finalise your financial arrangements post-divorce we strongly advise that you make formal agreements in order to ensure your long-term financial security and peace of mind.
4. We’ve reached agreements about our finances so everything is sorted
Again, this is untrue. Whilst informal agreements may appear to have brought everything to a close, that kind of casual agreement is simply not legally binding.
Until you formalise your agreements in a court order either party can change their mind about any deal you have both come to. And what’s more, coming to a deal about family finances without specialist legal advice is dangerous – because you may agree to things which are not in your interest, and therefore end up with an unfair settlement.
5. It is more cost-effective to avoid solicitors altogether
Since the withdrawal of legal aid from dealing with financial issues following divorce, getting legal advice is going to cost.
However trying to cut corners and save cash by doing without any specialist legal advice entirely, is very risky.
Without specialist legal advice not only may it well take longer to reach a settlement, but you may also overlook things you may be entitled to. As a result it is always good advice to talk to a divorce solicitor – especially if your partner instructs a solicitor of their own.
Divorce Finances and Clean Break Orders
Divorce is stressful and upsetting for everyone involved, and the part of the process which causes the most stress is often negotiations over the financial settlement. Divorce settlements have to take into account a wide range of issues such as maintenance payments for children, how to divide savings and other capital, sharing pension schemes and sharing property.
Clean break orders are often discussed in these situations, but what exactly is a clean break order and how can they affect a divorce? This is where proper legal advice comes in.
What is a Clean Break Order?
Although often referred to as a “clean break”, the full name for these sorts of arrangements is a Financial Clean Break Order. It is a formal settlement ordered by the court which is designed to put an end to all financial claims between the spouses. After this sort of agreement has been reached and is finalised by the court, the parties are simply not able to make any more claims for financial support in the future. These agreements only apply to finances between the two people getting divorced.
When children are involved in the divorce, and child maintenance payments need to be arranged, a clean break cannot be arranged. Child maintenance payments will always take priority over the finances of the parents, and clean breaks are not allowed in cases of child welfare. A clean break order is most appropriate for couples who have no children at all, or for older couple whose children are adults and over the age of 18.
How Clean Break works
If there are no children under the age of 18 when the parents decide to divorce, the next step is to come to a mutually acceptable agreement with the other party about how to divide the family finances. Once this has been done, getting a clean break order is a simple process. Very few couples seeking a clean break order will have to appear personally in court, and everything is usually resolved by mail.
If the couple is not able to get a clean break order at present because of their circumstances, then it doesn’t mean you can’t get one later on. If, for example, there is something specific which will happen in the future, such as a child turning 18, then couples can apply to court for a deferred clean break order which comes into effect at a later date.
Courts are usually happy to grant a clean break order when couples apply for them, but it is not always automatic. If there is an application for a clean break order where the financial settlement is skewed heavily in favour of one party, the court may decide to refuse the application. This power is used by the court occasionally.
Your Divorce – the advantages of a Clean Break Order
The advantages of a clean break order are self-explanatory – this sort of order gives you a clean break from your spouse. Gone are the worries and concerns about being tied to them financially in the future.
A clean break order means that you sign away any rights to a future claim on each other’s assets. After a long and stressful divorce, the thought of your ex having a claim on a future inheritance, future pensions, property or assets can be unbearable.
Clean break orders give peace of mind and stability about what will happen in the future. And these kind of financial settlements are normally reached by agreement – in what is known as a consent order.
Click here to read more about Consent Orders
Are Clean Break Orders always suitable?
There are some circumstances in which clean break orders are not possible. As the aim of a clean break order is to give each spouse their independence from each other, they are not possible if one partner earns a lot less than their partner. In these situations, dividing the assets would not give both parties enough to set up new homes away from each other. Lump sum payments or ongoing maintenance is more appropriate in these situations and therefore a clean break is impossible.
Why not take advantage of our free initial phone advice and free first 30 minutes advice on all divorce and family law issues. That way you can put your mind at rest without incurring any legal bills.
How long will my divorce take?
There is no hard and fast rule. In particular, given that we normally recommend that the decree absolute (the final stage in divorce), is postponed until after a financial settlement has been completed, there is a significant difference in how long the divorce takes between those cases with few family assets and those with complicated family finances.
But to give you an idea, according to recent figures from the Ministry of Justice released in March 2018, the average time to a decree nisi was 24 and 49 weeks to a decree absolute. But bear in mind this is a combination of straightforward divorce with no financial settlement, which normally go through quickly and complicated financial cases which can take a year or two, or even more sometimes, to resolve regardless of how quick lawyers move.
I don’t want to get divorced – can I stop my spouse divorcing me?
It is no longer possible to contest or defend a divorce, unless there are very exceptional and limited grounds (including jurisdiction).
Does being a respondent in divorce affect children or money issues?
No, your financial and parental rights shouldn’t be affected if you’re made the subject of divorce proceedings.
In the end, divorce is never going to be easy or pleasant, no matter who goes first. In an ideal world, both partners will work with their divorce solicitor to make the settlement as fair and as unemotional as possible. In any event, if you can agree to negotiate on the petition before it is presented to the court, you can spare yourself a lot of pain in the long run. On that point, if you think that you and your partner are likely to be able to negotiate reasonably with regard to issues such as finances, you might want to consider the options of collaborative law or family mediation – our specialist family law team includes an accredited collaborative lawyers and and we encourage many of our clients to become involved in family mediation to find a settlement that everyone can live with.
Is it Better to be the Petitioner or Respondent in a Divorce?
Most people would conclude that it’s better not to be divorced at all, and rightly so. Sadly, divorce is a fact of life, and something which more and more people experience in the course of their adult lives. So it’s worth bearing in mind that, although the outcome of a divorce is ultimately the same for both parties, it can , sometimes, make a difference which partner makes the first move to bring the marriage to an end.
On balance, the person who initiates the divorce may, in certain circumstances, be in a slightly more advantageous position. They have more control over the speed and timing of proceedings, which can affect such things as plans to remarry.
But one advantage to bringing a divorce petition is no longer relevant – since April 6th, 2022 when the new and most welcome era of no-fault divorce came in. This means that you no longer have to provide what are referred to as “grounds for divorce – which was often “unreasonable behaviour”. And in addition these new changes allow, for the 1st time, a joint application for divorce.