Pre-nups, asset division and financial consent orders — Tayntons Solicitors explains everything you need to know about divorce

Tayntons Solicitors, Gloucestershire's oldest law firm, explores the subject of divorce — including what to do if someone denies the paperwork, how a no-fault divorce works and why seeking help and advice from a legal team is 'imperative' to ensuring amicable proceedings.

By Kaleigh Pritchard  |  Published
Gloucestershire's heritage law firm, Tayntons Solicitors, caught up with SoGlos to discuss all things divorce.

When things don't work out, it's good to know that there are processes and services out there to help you navigate your next steps — especially for something as emotional and complex as divorce.

SoGlos caught up with trusted Gloucestershire law firm, Tayntons Solicitors, to get the lowdown on what's involved in divorce and how advice from a legal team can ensure amicable and straightforward proceedings.

Can you briefly talk me through the divorce process? From initial filing until final resolution?

The process starts when a party files a petition for divorce, which they cannot do unless they've been married for at least one year, the petition is then served by post on to the other party.

There's then a wait of 20 weeks between issuing the divorce petition and reaching the Conditional Order stage, the penultimate stage before finalisation of a divorce, before the Final Order stage — which completes the process — that cannot be applied for until six weeks after the Conditional Order has been granted by the court.

Tayntons recommends that this 20 weeks should be used to try and resolve other issues, such as child arrangements, pensions, division of assets and spousal support.

Where parties are struggling to reach agreement, Tayntons are able to assist with recommendations for local mediators.

What are some of the misconceptions of divorce that people should be aware of?

People often believe that divorce ends all financial ties, however this is not the case — the divorce itself does not achieve this, it simply ends the legal union of the couple.

For division of assets, it's important to obtain a financial consent order, which ends all financial ties in a way that is legally binding — this is important to note even if there are no assets held jointly or independently, to avoid ex-partners coming back to seek financial support in the future.

Some people also may think divorce is a quick process, but it can take anywhere between three months and several years in rare cases.

Tayntons can support clients throughout this entire process and will endeavour to conclude all matters in the quickest and most cost-effective manner possible.

How is the division of assets typically divided during divorce proceedings?

In most cases, the starting point is a 50/50 split between parties, but additionally the court will apply what is referred to as 'the needs principle', meaning if parties needs cannot be met by a straightforward division of assets, they can be divided on an unequal basis.

Children's needs are considered paramount by the court and often the case is that the parent with whom the children reside with for the majority of the time will get a larger share — also considering parental fitness, stability and the child's preferences if they are old enough to express them.

Division of assets begins with completion of a Form E by each party, detailing every asset held and its value. The forms are then exchanged and if undisputed, a financial consent order can be drafted and submitted to the court — if approved, this then severs all financial ties.

How do pre-nuptial agreements come into play, are they only useful for the wealthy?

Pre-nuptial agreements are definitely becoming more popular, although it is not legally binding, contrary to common beliefs.

The courts will give effect to them when they have been freely entered into by each party and each party has a full appreciation of its implications — they also won't be upheld where it would be unfair to hold the parties to the agreement.

They're not just for the wealthy — there are benefits of a pre-nuptial agreement to couples of any background.

But for wealthy individuals with trusts, for example, there are other forms of wealth protection available. As a firm with strong local business connections, Tayntons is able to recommend a number of excellent financial advisors that clients may wish to consult when considering their options.

For those who may not be able to easily afford to get divorced, is there any help?

Although there is rarely financial support for those seeking the assistance of a solicitor, in some cases, a party may be eligible for legal aid.

This usually includes domestic violence cases, although a party's means would still be considered in establishing eligibility.

The divorce application itself comes with a court fee of £593, but the fee can be waived if the applicant is claiming universal credit.

Alternatively, parties can choose to separate without divorcing. In these circumstances, the Separation Agreement sets out how parties will divide assets, share childcare and so on.

Can you explain a no-fault divorce and how it works?

Divorce law was reformed in April 2022. Under the old law, a party would need to prove fault under one of the five grounds of divorce, which would include adultery, unreasonable behaviour, separation for more than two years, separation for more than five years and desertion — where a spouse has left their partner without agreement, without good reason and with the intention to leave the relationship.

This is no longer the case, so a no-fault divorce system comes into play.

So long as a party has a copy of their marriage certificate and the marriage is at least a year old, they can apply for a divorce.

What happens if one party refuses to divorce?

In this case, a party can apply for a divorce on the grounds of 'irretrievable breakdown' of the marriage.

There's also no longer a requirement to provide a reason or apportion blame when applying due to the No-Fault Divorce legislation under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 — another change brought in with this new legislation, is the removal of a respondent's ability to contest the divorce.

If the other party simply refuses to engage in process and ignore documents from the court, etc., there are various options for the divorce to go ahead despite the lack of response.

How can getting help from a legal team help those wanting to protect their best interests when getting divorced?

Seeking legal advice is imperative to protecting a party's interests and rights during a divorce.

While a person can represent themselves and manage the proceedings, it's often better for negotiations if parties aren't in direct contact and it's helpful to have an expert's advice on hand, to know what to expect and what is and isn't reasonable throughout proceedings.

A legal professional can ensure the financial consent order contains all the necessary provisions to protect both parties going forward, in order for it to be effective.

Divorce can be a stressful and emotional process and Tayntons can signpost clients to support groups across Gloucestershire who can provide help and support to families and children of divorce, once it's all gone through.

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