Couples arguing

Family Law concerns: Separation and Divorce

Family Law concerns: Separation and Divorce

Living happily ever after isn’t a myth but it is a challenge, particularly in today’s complex world where partners may juggle demanding careers, come under financial pressure, or face an extraordinary circumstance. They are just a few of many situations which can lead to a separation or divorce, or the dissolution of a civil partnership.

Please note: The laws on divorce and separation change in April 2022. The new changes will see the introduction of ‘no-fault divorce’.

No longer will it be necessary for one or other of the parties involve to accept blame in regards to the relationship breakdown. All that will be required to a to start divorce proceedings, as of April 6th 2022, will be for one or other of the parties to file a statement with a court stating that the relationship has irrevocably broken down. The court will accept this statement as absolute proof that a divorce is genuinely sought.

The good news is that there will be no need to wait for 2 or 5 years as under the old system. The new system is simpler but, as with the old system, does require a cooling off period. However, this is only 20 weeks after the initial application, and then a further 6 weeks for the court to issue the ‘final order’ (replacing the decree absolute). Therefore, divorces under the new system will take a minimum of 6 months – far better than 2 or 5 years.

If you are convinced that the relationship with your partner has come to an end, Foys can help you reach a speedy separation, just reach out to one of the offices nearest you and speak to a member of our divorce team.

For a more detailed description of the changes, please read our latest article on the changes to divorce and separation law here.

When a separation is inevitable, couples looking to divorce need to sort out important legal issues such as dividing money and property, making arrangement for the children and agreeing on child maintenance payments.

Like with any legal matter, you should consult a family solicitor who is able to guide you through a range of options. Divorce through the courts is not the only option; for some families, separation or collaborative law might be more suitable.


If you are married but think it’s time to live apart, you may find it helpful to enter into a separation agreement. This can function temporarily or long-term as it lays out the financial responsibilities of you and your partner, such as who pays the mortgage or childcare costs. For many couples, separation is a necessary precursor to divorce, as you have to live apart for at least two years before divorcing in cases where neither person is at ‘fault’. It will also give you time to reassess the relationship and take a break from tension or arguments. Regardless of the reasons for a separation, a clear legal agreement can make the split easier to handle and help everyone involved prepare for the future.


Unlike many other countries, the United Kingdom does not allow what is called ‘no-fault’ divorce; that is, a divorce where both parties agree they want to end the marriage for personal or emotional reasons. Divorce or dissolution can only be granted if you have been married or in a civil partnership for at least a year, and only under one of the following circumstances:

  • Unreasonable behaviour (such as violence or substance abuse)
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Both parties want a divorce and have lived apart for two years
  • One person wants a divorce, and the couple have lived apart for five years

Regardless of the situation, the process of divorce is quite long and often expensive. Through the courts it can easily take 6-12 months to finalise everything, and fees for the court as well as the paperwork apply – this can exceed £800 in England. A less costly and more time-effective solution could be to settle outside of the court.

Settling divorce outside the courts

Not all divorce cases need to be taken to court. If both you and your partner agree to split, divorce may be completed through the process of Collaborative Law by working with lawyers and mediators to resolve any potential financial and family issues. Family consultants, children specialists and accountants can be brought in to make sure you have complete support. Accompanied by representatives, you and your partner will meet to discuss all aspects of the case thoroughly until an agreement is reached; this is usually done over 2-5 sessions, depending on the complexity of the case. The collaborative process is a good solution for many people, not least because the costs are generally much lower than if you were to go through the courts. It can also be adapted to a schedule that suits the parties involved, avoiding inconvenient court dates.

How Foys can help

A separation or divorce often brings feelings of stress, anger, and frustration to the surface. Planning for the future is difficult when you are splitting up a house full of belongings, and when children are involved it can be difficult to come to an agreement regarding where they will live, and who will care for them on a day-to-day basis. With the help of a solicitor specialising in family law, you can have a better assessment of the situation and learn what options are available. At Foys, our family law solicitors are accredited by the Law Society, and our Resolution-accredited family lawyers are qualified to handle all aspects of divorce, dissolution and separation.

To find out more about how our solicitors can help you and your family, get in touch with us today by filling in our Online Form, or calling your local Foys Solicitors office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

For more information on this subject, take a look at our previous posts:

This article was updated on January 19 2022

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Portrait Of Lawyer In Court Holding Brief And Book

Supreme Court rules woman must stay married against her will

Supreme Court rules woman must stay married against her will

Tini Owens, 68, from Worcestershire, had requested a divorce from her husband Hugh after 40 years of marriage, but her Supreme Court appeal was rejected.

Mr. Owens does not wish to split from his wife, which means divorce cannot be granted except in cases of adultery or unreasonable behaviour, or if they have lived apart for 5 years. Mr. and Mrs. Owens have lived apart since 2015, and therefore Mrs. Owens must now wait until 2020 to be divorced, which her solicitor says is “devastating”, and adds that she simply “cannot move forward with her life”. Although the Supreme Court has applied the law correctly, every judge involved has also acknowledged that the marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Owens effectively ended a long time ago.

Resolution, an organisation of 6,500 family justice professionals, has called on the Government in a press release to urgently reform divorce law in England and Wales. Since the 1996 Family Law Act came into force, a divorce is generally only granted in cases of adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Since then over 1.7 million people have cited these reasons in divorce petitions, but it is thought many would have preferred to simply be granted a divorce without conflict.

Nigel Sheperd, former Chair of Resolution, argues this can drive families into further conflict: “A large number of those [1.7 million people] will have been parents, so one can only wonder what the long-term damage is to separating families across the country, needlessly caused by an outdated divorce process that is no longer fit for purpose.”

Resolution’s Chair Margaret Heathcote says: “Conflict has been proven to have a negative effect on both divorcing couples and their children. Each day the government fails to act creates unnecessary conflict for hundreds more families at a time that is already extremely emotional and traumatising for them… Ministers need to end the blame game and they need to end it now.”

A survey by Resolution shows that 90% of family law professionals agree that current laws “make it harder for them to reduce conflict and confrontation between clients and their ex-partners.”

Baroness Butler-Sloss launched a private member’s bill last week, asking the government to review the current divorce law.

At Foys Solicitors, we are experienced in handling divorce law and know how difficult it can be to get a divorce granted in some cases. Mediation can sometimes help convince an unwilling partner to agree to divorce – or it can solve issues that are causing you to consider a split in the first place. Separation agreements can also be a good temporary solution if you can’t decide whether to legally end your marriage just yet.

For any questions about separations and divorce, contact Foys Solicitors today.

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Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below