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Divorce solicitors

Our specialist divorce lawyers are here to help with your separation and divorce. Our advice is perfectly tailored to your individual circumstances at every stage.

When you’re going through a divorce or separation, a good family lawyer helps you move forward, laying sturdy foundations for your future. At Cripps, our compassionate lawyers do just that.

Experienced and sensitive, we explain your options and the outcomes clearly and carefully.

We take time to understand your situation and advise you on the best approach depending on your circumstances. We will listen to your concerns and anticipate any potential problems so that we are always one step ahead.

Divorce and separation can impact not only you, but also your family. Our expert family law solicitors are able to work with you to consider how you will deal with your shared finances and make arrangements for your children.

Our expertise

Our family law team is ranked in the top tier in both Chambers and Partners and Legal 500. Alex Davies, head of family law, and Vander James, partner, are both recognised as leading individuals in these independent guides. The team are also recognised in the eprivateclient guide, which singles out the UK’s leading advisers ranking them based on a range of factors.

Meet the team

How we made a difference

Frequently asked questions

There is only one ground for divorce – the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This is proved by a statement from either or both parties.

The process is now all online. Either you can do this yourself or we can manage it for you. There is a court fee to pay.
The court will issue your petition, and your spouse must then complete the acknowledgement of service within a specified timeframe.

Providing this has been completed, you can apply to court for your conditional order (previously known as decree nisi).
A judge will then consider your divorce application, confirm that you are entitled to a divorce, and issue your conditional order. This is the first of two decrees and can be pronounced a minimum of 20 weeks after the divorce application is filed. It is at this stage that the court can approve any financial agreement reached between you and your spouse.

Six weeks after the conditional order you can apply for the final order (previously known as the decree absolute). This is the final divorce order and legally ends your marriage.

The above is based on a typical divorce. There can be complications if, for example, your spouse doesn’t return the acknowledgement of service.

If you and your spouse agree to apply for divorce, then you can do so at any point provided you have been married for one year. There is no mandatory separation period in English law.

No. There are other options if you are not sure whether you want to end your marriage. We can discuss these at length with you and you can take your time to consider your options. Other options could be:

Separation on an informal basis

You and your spouse make the decision to separate and agree between you what financial arrangements are going to be in place during your separation.

Separation supported by a separation agreement

A separation agreement is drawn up by solicitors which sets out the agreed financial arrangements for the period of separation.

The agreement would usually set out how you would like your finances to be divided should you subsequently decide to divorce. On a subsequent divorce, the court is not obliged to follow the terms of the agreement, but it is a significant factor the court would take into consideration, especially if the agreement has been negotiated between solicitors and supported by financial disclosure from you both.

Judicial separation

This is a formal separation recognised by the court. The process is similar to the divorce process, in that a petition for judicial separation is submitted based on similar reasons as for divorce, as set out above. You do not, however, have to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

A decree of judicial separation does not end the marriage. The court is able to make many of the same financial orders that can be made on divorce, save that it cannot make orders in relation to pension sharing.

Applications for judicial separation are rare, and may often arise where there are strong cultural or religious reasons for not wishing to divorce.

A conditional order is the first stage of the two-part divorce order which culminates in a final order (previously known as decree absolute). It means that the court is satisfied that you or your spouse have proved the contents of the petition and are entitled to a divorce. It confirms that the court does not see any reason why you cannot divorce.

From the date of the conditional order, the court can also decide the financial settlement or approve a financial agreement reached between the parties. A separate application has to be made for this.

This is the final court order in divorce proceedings . It means that your marriage is legally at an end and you are both free to remarry. You need to wait at least six weeks after the date of the decree nisi before you can apply for a decree absolute. The delay is a cooling off period which gives you a chance to discuss other issues such as your finances with your spouse before the marriage formally comes to an end.

Divorce takes a minimum of 26 weeks, according to legislation.

The law is very clear that violence or abuse should never be a feature of any relationship and those who are abusive to their husband, wife or partner will be committing a criminal offence by behaving in that way.

If you are suffering violence from your husband/wife/partner, you should call the police. There are also a number of organisations that give help and support to those suffering from violence in the home as victims of violence often feel as if they are trapped and powerless to help themselves.

The family court is also able to make an injunction order either prohibiting a spouse or partner from being violent or removing a violent partner from the home. You can always talk to our family lawyers to discuss your situation.

This will depend on the financial needs, responsibilities and resources of you and your spouse. Often, the family home is the main asset of the marriage, and sometimes there is not enough equity in the property to house both parties.

The court’s first consideration is the welfare of any children of the marriage.

Our expert family solicitors can advise on the best strategy to try and keep your house if that is what you want.

A business is not automatically protected on divorce and may be treated as a matrimonial asset, and therefore in the pot for sharing.

The first step is to ascertain the value of the business before working out how to deal with it in the context of a divorce. This can be done by jointly appointing an accountant. The business is a capital asset and also an income source.

The family court tends to leave the business with the owner and compensate the other spouse with other capital resources of the marriage and/or spousal maintenance.

The aim of the court is to distribute the resources of the marriage fairly.

The family court does not become involved with the arrangements for children unless you and your spouse cannot agree on where the children live and how the children spend time with you. The court encourages parents to try and agree the arrangements for the children directly or with the help of mediation.

Other issues that arise between parents include issues with child maintenance, choice of school, medical treatment, relocating abroad or the child’s surname. If these issues cannot be resolved directly, you can apply for an order from the court.

When the court considers an application relating to a child, the most important consideration is the child’s welfare and what is in their best interests.

Please refer to our page on arrangements for children for more information.

Each divorce, and indeed each family, is different and how long it takes and what it costs will depend on the facts of your case, and the seniority of the solicitor working your case. Find out more below on how much it will cost and how long it takes.

Resolving family finances on divorce or relationship breakdown

These days there are many different ways we can work with you to resolve your financial issues following divorce or relationship breakdown. It is not always necessary to start court proceedings. We also know that the cost of legal fees for divorce can seem daunting. We will work with you to keep them proportionate and will offer a fixed fee proposal wherever possible if that is what you seek. Below, we go through the different options available and summarise indicative cost and timescales.

Each divorce, and indeed each family, is different and how long it takes and what it costs will depend on the facts of your case, and the seniority of the solicitor working your case. The summaries below are intended as a guide to help you decide which option would be best for you. Your solicitor can give further detail and help you decide which is best for you.

What is involved?

You would negotiate with your spouse direct and we will advise you in the background as you go.

If you reach agreement, we can advise you whether the agreement is the type of outcome the judge would consider fair.

We can draw up the agreement into the required format for the court (consent order)  to consider and help you obtain the judge’s approval.

Once the judge has approved the agreement and decree absolute has been obtained, the agreement is enforceable.

How much will this option cost me?

Usually between £2,500 and £10,000 depending on the remit of your instructions and the complexity of the circumstances.

Are fixed fees available for all or part?

Yes – for the preparation of the draft consent order.

What is a realistic time frame for completion?

The time frame is entirely in the hands of you and your spouse.

Usually it takes between 3 weeks and 3 months to agree the wording of a court order, submit it to the court and receive the judge’s approval.

What is involved?

At the outset,  you will need advice on your legal position.

Prior to advising we will need to identify with you the assets, income, debts and anticipated expenditure. This will allow us to provide detailed advice as to your options, along with an estimate of future costs.

Often a voluntary exchange of financial documents can lead to settlement negotiations without the need for court proceedings, although we will advise you as to when we think court proceedings might be necessary.

We can draw up the agreement into the required format for the court to consider and help you obtain the judge’s approval.

Once the judge has approved the agreement and decree absolute has been obtained, the agreement is enforceable.

How much will this option cost me?

Usually between £5,000 to £20,000 depending upon how much work is required to reach a compromise.

Are fixed fees available for all or part?

Yes – for the preparation of your case presentation and a draft court  order.

What is a realistic time frame for completion?

The time frame is largely in the hands of you and your spouse.

Usually it takes between 3 weeks and 3 months to agree the wording of a court order, submit it to the court and receive the judge’s approval.

What is involved?

You and your spouse attend a series of mediation meetings with an impartial mediator. The meetings usually last for up to 2 hours and you may require up to six meetings. The mediator’s role is to facilitate a constructive conversation and give guidance where required. The mediator is not allowed to advise either party and is not able to impose an outcome. We will advise you as you go, usually between the mediation meetings and as required.

If a proposed agreement is reached, we will advise you whether the agreement is the type of outcome the judge would consider fair.   We can draw up the agreement into the required format for the court to consider and help you obtain the judge’s approval.

Once the judge has approved the agreement and decree absolute has been obtained, the agreement is enforceable

How much will this option cost me?

Usually between £5,000 and £10,000.

Are fixed fees available for all or part?

Yes – for the preparation of your case presentation and a draft court  order.

What is a realistic time frame for completion?

Usually up to 3 months, but the timetable is set between the parties and the mediator.

What is involved?

Collaborative law is a good option for you and your ex-partner if you are committed to working together to reach a settlement or agreement, and wish to avoid an acrimonious and lengthy court process.

It involves a series of meetings where you and your spouse meet in the same room with your respective collaborative lawyers and everything is discussed openly and honestly with a view to resolving the issues and reaching an amicable agreement.

We can draw up the agreement into the required format for the court to consider and help you obtain the judge’s approval.

Once the judge has approved the agreement and decree absolute has been obtained, the agreement is enforceable.

How much will this option cost me?

Usually between £10,000 and £60,000.

Are fixed fees available for all or part?

No – we do not offer fixed fees for the collaborative process.

What is a realistic time frame for completion?

Usually up to 6 months, but the timetable is set between the parties and their collaborative lawyers.

What is involved?

The court will direct and manage a three stage process –

Phase 1 – disclosure using a standard financial summary template.

The court then decides what further information or documents you and your spouse need to provide and what, if any, expert advice is required.

Phase  2 – secondary disclosure, obtaining expert reports and negotiations.

The judge will assist by giving a non-binding opinion designed to help you to negotiate and agree a settlement.

If final agreement is reached, the judge can approve the agreement on the same day.

Phase 3 (if required) – If agreement cannot be reached, the judge will set a timetable for  evidence to be updated, followed by a court hearing at which the judge will make a final decision.

How much will this option cost me?

Settlement at phase 1 – £10,000 to £30,000

Settlement at phase 2 – £25,000 to £60,000

Resolution at phase 3 – £50,000 to £120,000

Note – these figures are based on the work required for the core financial remedy case only.

If we are required to deal with extra financial issues or hearings, they will incur additional charges. .

Are fixed fees available for all or part?

Yes – for individual phases of the case.

What is a realistic time frame for completion?

Phase 1 – 3 to 4 months.

Phases 1 & 2 – 6 to 10 months

Phases 1, 2 & 3 – 12 to 24 months

What is involved?

We will design a process and agree a timetable with your spouse’s solicitor for the exchange of financial information and obtaining any expert reports that may be necessary.

We will work with you and your spouse’s lawyers to set up a settlement hearing with an experienced private judge whose role is to help facilitate settlement between you.

The private judge will assist by giving a non-binding opinion designed to help you to negotiate and agree a settlement.

We can draw up the agreement into the required format for the Family Court judge to consider and help you obtain the judge’s approval.

Once the judge has approved the agreement and decree absolute has been obtained, the agreement is enforceable.

How much will this option cost me?

£20,000 to £50,000

Are fixed fees available for all or part?

Yes – for individual phases of the case.

What is a realistic time frame for completion?

1 month to 6 months

What is involved?

We will work with you, your spouse’s solicitor and an arbitrator to design and agree a bespoke process for disclosing your respective financial circumstances, obtaining any necessary expert evidence, negotiating and, if required, the arbitrator will decide the outcome the case.

How the process works is up to the parties, their lawyers and the arbitrator to agree. It may be a document-only process, or include face-to-face and telephone/video meetings.

Once a final decision has been made, we will then obtain the court judge’s approval to the arbitrator’s award.

How much will this option cost me?

Depending upon the process agreed, between £10,000 and £80,000.

Are fixed fees available for all or part?

Yes – for individual phases of the case.

What is a realistic time frame for completion?

1 month to 6 months

What is involved?

A process combining mediation and arbitration. We work with you to prepare and present your case. You would then attend mediation with your spouse.

If the mediation process is not successful in enabling you to reach agreement, any outstanding points of disputes will be decided by a jointly appointed arbitrator in binding arbitration proceedings. We will work with you to present your case effectively to the arbitrator.

Once a final decision has been made, we will then obtain the court judge’s approval to the arbitrator’s award.

How much will this option cost me?

£20,000 to £50,000

Are fixed fees available for all or part?

Yes – for individual phases of the case.

What is a realistic time frame for completion?

1 month to 6 months

What is involved?

Hybrid mediation is a dispute resolution model that enables a jointly appointed and impartial mediator to manage a course of mediation more closely than in a standard mediation setting.

The mediator’s role is to facilitate a constructive conversation and give guidance where required.

However, the mediator may also meet with each party separately to enable more in-depth dialogue.

Each party can be supported by their lawyer during those meetings, which does not happen during standard mediation meetings.

The mediator is not allowed to give legal advice to either party and is not able to impose an outcome.

If a proposed agreement is reached, we will advise you whether the agreement is the type of outcome the judge would consider fair.

We can draw up the agreement into the required format for the court to consider and help you

obtain the judge’s approval.

Once the judge has approved the agreement and decree absolute has been obtained, the agreement is enforceable.

How much will this option cost me?

Between £5,000 and £20,000.

Are fixed fees available for all or part?

Yes – for individual phases of the case.

What is a realistic time frame for completion?

1 month to 6 months

Contact us

If you have a question or need advice, please let us know how we can help.

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