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.

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:

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