Divorce and Separation

Making the decision to divorce or separate can be very difficult, especially when children, property and other assets are involved. It is equally hard for the person who receives the divorce petition. We have a team of leading divorce lawyers in London who are known for their compassionate and efficient nature when dealing with relationship breakdown and divorce. We will work closely with you to make sure the process is easy and clear, whilst putting you in the best possible position. Getting early advice can be hugely beneficial. Having a conversation with our divorce lawyers will help you understand your rights, where you stand and what you need to do. If you would like to speak to one of our specialist divorce solicitors in confidence call 0808 250 4528.

Our divorce lawyers have the ability and experience to deal with all elements of a relationship breakdown and divorce.

  • We have a great deal of experience with complex financial arrangements.
  • Our Family Law solicitors are committed to constructive and conciliatory solutions where possible. When court proceedings are necessary they are tenacious and robust in their approach.
  • Our lawyers are cost conscious and will always try to give accurate estimates of what your matter will cost. We will never approach a case from a litigation perspective.
  • We have very competitive and favourable rates in comparison to our competitors – we provide value for money.
  • We will explain the process clearly and keep you informed about what is happening at each stage.
  • Our family lawyers place client care at the forefront of every matter – they always endeavour to respond quickly and be available when needed.

What is the difference between divorce and separation?

Divorce is:

  • The process where on completion there is a dissolution of a marriage
  • You need to have been married for more than 1 year to be eligible to divorce


  • Allows you to live apart, without officially divorcing
  • Does not require you to show that a marriage has broken down irretrievably
  • Option for those against divorce on religious grounds, been married less than a year, have not decided to divorce just yet

Our divorce solicitors will help you to draw up a Separation Agreement which covers how your family assets, debts and bills will be split, ongoing maintenance payments, childcare arrangements and where both parties will live.

Everyone’s circumstances are unique but if you are thinking about divorce or separation, it is best to ensure that you are fully informed of your options and the issues you will have to consider throughout the process. Early advice is always recommended as this can put you in a more favourable position. We will go through the process with you and explain what will happen and when. We make sure that your requirements are met and that we provide advice which is clear, understandable and effective.

What are the grounds for divorce?

When applying for a divorce you must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. In order to show this you must set out the details of one of five reasons or grounds for divorce:

  1. Adultery – legal definition of adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person who is not their married spouse
  2. Unreasonable behaviour – husband or wife’s behaviour had been so unreasonable that it caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
  3. Two years separation with consent (both parties must agree to divorce)
  4. Five years separation without consent
  5. Desertion – takes place when wife or husband leaves/abandons the other without consent for a continuous period of two years

What should I do if I am thinking about divorce?

  • Talk to your partner

The first stage of a relationship breakdown is communication. If possible, you should talk it through with your partner, this is especially important when children are involved.

  • Legal Advice

It is important that you are comfortable with your solicitor, that you feel they understand your legal needs and the emotional aspects of your situation equally. You need a solicitor who will be available to answer your questions and be with you throughout the journey. Your solicitor will then be able to advise you as to the best strategy and approach to take.

  • The Divorce Petition

The divorce proceedings begin by delivering a divorce petition to court where it can be issued. To support your claim, in your petition, you must prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down by stating details of one of the five reasons for divorce.

The petition must then be served on the respondent with an Acknowledgement of Service form. In order for the divorce to continue without delay the Acknowledgement of Service must be signed by the respondent confirming that he or she does not intend to defend the divorce. The form must then be returned to court within 7 days. A copy of the completed Acknowledgment of Service will then be sent to the petitioner’s solicitors by the court.

  • Decree Nisi

The application for Decree Nisi is prepared by the petitioner’s solicitors. The application is delivered to the court with a statement in support signed by the petitioner to confirm that the contents of the petition are true. The documents are put before a District Judge who will decide whether the petition is proved.

If the District Judge is satisfied that the petition is proved he or she will sign a certificate stating the date on which the Decree Nisi will be pronounced. Once pronounced, the court will send a copy of the Decree Nisi to the petitioner’s solicitors and the respondent. As the Decree Nisi is the first stage of the divorce, you’ll remain married until the divorce has been finalised. More on Decree Nisi here.

  • Applying for Decree Absolute

Six weeks after the Decree Nisi is pronounced the petitioner can apply for Decree Absolute. This is the final stage of the divorce and once it is granted by the court your divorce is finalised. The respondent can apply for the Decree Absolute three months after the date on which the petitioner can apply for the Decree Absolute. If the application is made by the respondent it is not automatically granted by the court, so the petitioner can oppose it if necessary.

  • Judicial Separation and Annulment

If you have been married for less than a year (or in certain situations longer) it is possible to commence judicial separation or annulment proceedings. You should bear in mind that judicial separation proceedings will not terminate the marriage and you would not be free to re-marry. It is possible to enter a Deed of Separation instead of a divorce, to formally record that you are separated, and to also record any financial agreement.

Download our Guide to Divorce and Separation

What are my funding options?

Usually our divorce solicitors work on an agreed hourly rate depending on the experience of your solicitor. Your solicitor will be able to provide you with a cost estimate which would depend on your circumstances and they will advise you of this once they have all the details of your matter.

Our family divorce lawyers offer very competitive fees and a first rate service. We offer an initial consultation at a fixed fee rate of £300 plus VAT with an experienced divorce lawyer who will explain divorce proceedings to you and based on your individual circumstances advise you on the most appropriate course of action. During this meeting you will have an opportunity to ask all of your key questions.

In simple divorce cases where everything has been agreed between both parties in advance you may be able to opt for a fixed fee divorce service which is £999 plus VAT, disbursements and court fee of £550 for a petitioner (to start a divorce), and a respondent service fee of £540 plus VAT.

Beginning divorce proceedings with Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors

Our divorce lawyers in London are well respected specialists providing expert family advice in all areas of Family Law.

Whether you are seeking a divorce or legal separation, our team of divorce solicitors will be able to guide you through the process and advise you on the most appropriate way forward in order to achieve the desired outcome.

There are many matters to be resolved during a divorce including property, maintenance, pension provision, support for children, school fees etc. We offer a range of services to assist couples with reaching agreement including solicitor-led negotiation, mediation, collaborative law, and court proceedings if necessary. Various members of our Family Law team are highly experienced in financial and property disputes involving both married and unmarried couples and we have been involved in some of the more complex and high-profile cases over the past few years, enabling us to offer the highest quality of service.

Our family lawyers are described in the Legal 500 UK directory as ‘exceptionally knowledgeable and thoroughly hard working’, ‘very committed to their clients’, and are known for their ‘very high level of client service’.

Considering a divorce? Call us for expert legal advice now

Frequently asked questions

My partner and I are getting divorced but we have already agreed that the children should live with me, although they will see the other parent on a regular basis. Do we still need to get this formally approved by the court?

No you do not need to. The courts will only get involved if you cannot agree on these issues, or if the child’s welfare is a matter of serious concern.

My ex-partner and I are arguing about the level of contact with our children. How can we sort this out?

We recommend that you seek advice from experienced family lawyers who can talk you through the options for resolving the dispute, which can be solicitor-led negotiation, mediation or if all else fails, an application to the court. Most cases do not have to end up in court and can be resolved by agreement, it just sometimes takes some legal assistance for people to know their rights and options.

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