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Family Law

Separation & Divorce

Jacqueline Major
Jacqueline Major
Partner
Bharti Shah
Bharti Shah
Partner
Vanessa Friend
Vanessa Friend
Partner
Sarah Harding
Sarah Harding
Partner
Abigail Neal
Abigail Neal
Paralegal
Ellen Biney
Ellen Biney
Trainee
Emma Vincent
Emma Vincent
Paralegal
Victoria Christie
Victoria Christie
Paralegal

Making the decision to divorce or separate can be very difficult, especially when children, property and other assets are involved. It can feel overwhelming.

Our team of leading divorce lawyers are known for their compassionate yet 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 advice at the earliest stage can be hugely beneficial. Having a conversation with our specialist divorce lawyers will help you understand your rights, where you stand and what you need to do.

How can our divorce lawyers help you

  • We specialise in assisting with financial arrangements, however complex.
  • Our Family Law solicitors are committed to constructive and conciliatory solutions, by negotiation or mediation, where possible. But when court proceedings are necessary, we are tenacious and robust in our approach.
  • We provide excellent value for money. We will advise you on the best and most effective strategy to take and will never approach a case from a litigation perspective.
  • We are fully transparent about the cost of our work – we will always provide estimates of what your matter will cost.
  • We will explain the process clearly and keep you informed about what is happening at each stage.
  • Our Family Law team recognise how important and sensitive this process is for you – we always endeavour to respond quickly and are here for you whenever you need us.

"Jacqueline Major held my hand throughout my very acrimonious divorce and emotional divorce. She was straight talking, calm, informative and pragmatic...She made me brave, I would definitely recommend her."

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What’s the difference between divorce and separation?

Divorce

  • The legal process where on completion there is the dissolution of a marriage. For civil partnerships this is known as the dissolution process.
  • You need to have been married for more than 1 year to be eligible to divorce

Separation

  • A formal separation, without legally ending the marriage is known as judicial separation and is a legal process.
  • An informal separation can be done by a Deed of Separation
  • Separation does not require you to show that a marriage has broken down irretrievably
  • This is an option for those who are against divorce on religious grounds, have been married less than a year, or have decided not to divorce just yet

Our specialist divorce solicitors can help you to draw up a Separation Agreement which covers for example how your family assets, debts and income can be divided, 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 informed position. We will go through the process with you and explain what will happen and when. We provide advice which is clear, understandable and effective and we always aim to ensure that your requirements are met.

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How can I start a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership?

The new no fault procedure came into force on 6 April 2022. When applying for a divorce you must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Either party can make an application for divorce. This can also be done by way of a joint application.

Contact our specialist team on
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What should I do if I am thinking about divorce?

Talk to your partner

Always aim for constructive 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 on the best strategy and approach to take.

"Divorce is never pleasant but Jacqueline Major, who looked after me through the whole proceedings, was always a source of calm, professional and pragmatic advice as well as as an unfailingly warm and supportive human being. I feel very fortunate to have met Jacqueline and been represented by her."

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How does the divorce process work?

The divorce application

The divorce proceedings begin by submitting an application to court where it can be issued. You must first decide whether it will be a sole application or, by agreement with your spouse/partner, joint.
If sole, the issued application will then be served on the respondent by the court, usually by email.

Judicial separation & 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.

20 week wait period

For divorce and dissolution, once the application is issued, there is a 20 week period before the applicant (s) can apply for a conditional order, which is the first stage of the divorce. This is meant to be a period of reflection for both parties to consider:

  • Whether they truly want to separate permanently
  • To enable them to make arrangements to divide finances
  • To agree all financial matters, including maintenance payments and child maintenance if applicable
  • Agree if possible shared care arrangements for children
  • Agree on parenting going forwards

Applying for the Final Order

Six weeks after the Conditional Order is made, the Final Order can be applied for. This dissolves the marriage/civil partnership.

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What are my funding options?

Usually our leading divorce solicitors work on an agreed hourly rate, which varies depending on their seniority. Once we have taken the time to get to know your individual circumstances, your solicitor will be able to provide you with an estimate of costs.

Our family divorce lawyers offer a first class service, and provide excellent value for money. We offer an initial consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer at a fixed fee rate of £400 plus VAT. During this meeting, your lawyer will explain the legal processes of divorce, finances and children (if applicable) to you and based on your individual circumstances, advise you on options for resolution of the matters that arise out of separation. During this meeting you will have the 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 £499 plus VAT, and the court fee of £593. This applies whether the application is sole or joint.

"I am and always will be very grateful to you for your diligent, caring way you dealt with this case and your kindness in doing so as quickly and cost effectively as possible."

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Why choose Hodge Jones & Allen?

Our leading London divorce lawyers are well-renowned specialists who provide expert family advice in all areas of Family Law.

Whether you’re seeking a divorce or legal separation, our experienced 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. Our Family Law team are highly experienced in financial and property disputes involving both married and unmarried couples. We have experience acting in numerous complex and high-profile cases, enabling us to offer the highest quality of service.

Contact our family law specialist team on
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Frequently asked questions

What is the divorce process?

Your divorce process will start with a fixed fee meeting to give you all the information about what you need to do, how long the process takes, and what is the cost.

You must then file an application at the court, called a petition. The person filing the petition is the petitioner and the person who receives the petition is the respondent. The benefit of being the petitioner is that you have greater control over the divorce timetable. You may also be able to obtain a costs order against the respondent if you are seeking a divorce based on adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

The application for Decree Nisi is then prepared by the petitioner’s solicitors.

Six weeks after Decree Nisi is pronounced the petitioner can apply for Decree Absolute. This is the final stage of the divorce and once it is granted your divorce is finalised.

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 don’t need to. The courts will only get involved if you can’t 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 don’t have to end up in court and can be resolved by agreement – sometimes it takes legal guidance for people to know their rights and options.

How will our family assets and income be divided if we separate?

There are several ways you can sort out what happens to capital and income during a divorce. Capital includes property, pensions, investments and savings and income may be divided to pay maintenance for you or your children.

In some cases, the court sets out a timetable that must be followed. Most cases settle within this timetable. If the case does not settle it will progress to a final hearing where the court will decide how the assets are to be divided.

Is it better to come to an agreement?

It’s always best to try to reach an agreement outside of the court and there are various ways this can be done, for example through solicitor negotiation, collaboration, mediation or round-table meetings. The simplest way of resolving a case is for you both to provide voluntary financial disclosure of all your assets, liabilities and income. You can then begin negotiations to reach a fair settlement with the support of your solicitors.  

If you come to an agreement, then this should be recorded in a consent order and filed at court.

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"My experience with HJA was very professional at all times. They were helpful and very honest."