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Divorce and Separation Lawyer Bradford


The ending of a relationship is often a very difficult time and deciding to divorce is obviously a very big step. It can be a very stressful experience to go through and obviously will have a major impact on all members of your family. Issues such as joint finances and childcare arrangements need to be carefully discussed and resolved and ensuring you have expert lawyers to guide you through the process will help to make sure that everything is handled correctly. Our specialist team of divorce lawyers can advise you on your particular circumstances and with our expertise and knowledge in this area, we can make the process run as smoothly as possible. Here we look at the process for divorce as well as the use of separation agreements.

How does the divorce process work?

In order to apply for a divorce, it is necessary to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and can no longer be saved. The court has to be satisfied that at least one of the following facts applies: 

  1. This should be admitted by the party that has committed it since proving it without this can be very difficult. You cannot use this as a reason if you continue living together for six months after you became aware of it.
  2. Unreasonable behaviour- one partner has acted in a way that means the other cannot be expected to live with them. There are various reasons that can give rise to unreasonable behaviour including abuse, either physical or verbal such as threats or insults, abusing substances such as alcohol or drugs or refusing to contribute to the couple’s living expenses. The other party does not need to admit the allegations against them. The behaviour also does not need to be excessive to qualify.
  3. Desertion- this is allowed where one party has left the other party for at least two years before a divorce application. It is possible to have lived together for six months of these two years (though this does not count towards the necessary two-year requirement).
  4. Separation- the parties must be separated for at least two years and both agree to the divorce in writing. It is possible to live in the same home during this period if you can prove you were not living as a couple (for example you are not acting as a couple and sleep and eat separately).
  5. Separation without agreement- this is possible where the parties have been separated for at least five years and it is not necessary for the other party to agree to the divorce.

Once the divorce petition is filed with the court then the process is extended to if either party intends to defend the divorce (to try and prevent it) or makes an objection to paying costs where the other party has claimed against them. This results in the other party having to “answer to divorce”, which may then proceed to a court hearing. Where the divorce is not contested, then the original party can apply for a decree nisi. Once this is granted, the couple will still be married and they will have to wait 43 days until they can apply for a decree absolute to end the marriage legally. You must apply within 12 months of receiving the degree nisi or the Court will need to be given reasons for the delay.

What is a Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement is used by a couple that decide to separate but not formally divorce to organise what they are both responsible for during the separation and what arrangements will be made for things such as finances and childcare arrangements. These arrangements can also be used for non-married couples that are separating, again to deal with joint assets as well as childcare issues. These agreements can be as formal or informal as the couple chooses and do not even need to be in writing. However, even the most amicable separation can deteriorate in the future and therefore it is generally best to have a formal agreement in place that is written under advice from a specialist family lawyer.

Separation agreements can be very useful to allow both parties to think about what is important to them and what issues need to be considered and can provide financial security and offer reassurance during this difficult period. Not everyone needs a separation agreement but they can be useful to help plan your wishes and can speed up the divorce process if matters relating to finance and children are decided in advance. Although they are not legal binding and is not a court order, it is still a contract and can be challenged if broken. It is therefore important to make sure that any separation agreement is drawn up by a lawyer that is experienced in this field. It is possible to turn a separation agreement into a legally binding document as a consent order as part of the divorce process if a solicitor applies to the courts with a properly drafted version. For the Court to use a separation agreement as part of a divorce, it would need to be satisfied that both parties received independent legal advice before the agreement was created, their circumstances have not changed and they both made full and frank disclosure.

There are numerous issues that can be covered by such an agreement, including:

  • Living arrangements for both parties. This can help define boundaries that can be very beneficial during this period.
  • Childcare provisions- this will be very important to settle and the parties will need to decide living arrangements as well as day to day care of any children. This is important for both parties to the relationship but also for the children themselves who will need structure and a routine during this period of change.
  • Payments for childcare/ maintenance. This will state how much one party is to pay the other and for what purposes. This can be used as a basis for a financial settlement if the couple was to later divorce.

Contact our Expert Divorce Lawyers Bradford Today

Call us on 01274 350 546 or fill out our online enquiry form.

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