How do I separate and what’s involved in a divorce/ dissolution? Our divorce basics guide tells you various things you should know about divorce.
There are three main things you should consider when getting a divorce or dissolving your civil partnership. You will need to; make arrangements for your children (if you have children), agree what will happen with your finances, and finally, you will need to file the legal paperwork.
Divorce - what you need to know and when to do:
1. Make arrangements for your children
The first and most important thing to agree is where your children will live, how they will see both of you, who will pay for what and how you will raise them. This is called a Parenting Plan.
2. Make arrangements about your finances
Next, agree on what will happen to your home, where you will live in future and also what money, assets and debts you have to divide. This is called a financial disclosure.
3. File the legal paperwork
File your divorce (or dissolution) petition, apply for a decree nisi (or conditional order), submit a consent order (this is optional but strongly recommended) and finally apply for a decree absolute (or final order for dissolutions). If you want to make your financial agreements legally binding you will also need to file a consent order with your divorce paperwork.
If you want to formalise your agreements prior to your divorce, you can have a separation agreement that outlines what you plan on splitting once you have separated.
Divorce basics guide: what you need to know
1. Make arrangements for your children
Agreeing on childcare arrangements is the most important thing you can do, as it creates stability and a solid base for your children to adjust to changes. By doing this first you ensure your financial decisions fit with what is best for your kids.
These are the divorce basics for making arrangements about your children:
- Parenting principles – co-parenting or parallel parenting, will you work as a parenting team or as individuals?
- Where the children are going to live? Mainly with you, mainly with your partner or a shared care arrangement alternating between both parents (depending on the age of the children, financial and practical implications)
- Arrangements for Christmas, [birthdays]https://amicable.io/co-parenting-birthday-party), holidays and other special occasions
- Decisions about schooling – day to day arrangements and relationships as well as longer-term choices about secondary schooling, exam or university choices
- How you’ll communicate with each other make decisions about bringing them up in future and what they each need to be happy, thriving children
What and when you tell your children about your divorce depends on many factors. Our guide to ‘Telling the kids’, can be found here.
amicable co-parenting app:
The amicable co-parenting app is designed to help parents transition to co-parents. The app combines all essential elements of co-parenting in one secure place. The co-parenting calendar enables you to schedule shared and private events, to help keep organised and avoid confusion. You can message your ex securely via the messaging function and you can set shared and private goals to keep your children on track whilst you parent apart.
2. Agree on arrangements about your finances
Another essential thing you should know about divorce is what you plan on doing with your finances. You need to make a list of all your assets and debts to decide how to split them (‘financial disclosure)’. Even if you are doing things informally, legally you need to ensure your disclosure is an accurate reflection of everything you own or owe. Inaccuracies can lead to your settlement being overturned, sometimes years later.
These are the ‘finances’ divorce basics:
- List all your assets and debts (what you own and owe)
- Include evidence with your disclosure (copies of bank statements, mortgage redemption certificates, pension CETVs etc. Some information like pensions can take three months to come, so make sure you write off for this early on
- Some information like pensions can take three months to come, so make sure you write off for this early on
When you’ve documented your finances, you can start to make proposals about how to split your assets and debts. Include what support you need to give to or receive from your partner to be able to live in future (maintenance).
For further guidance read our consent and financial orders guide.
3. File your legal paperwork
The legal process can take a long time and this will depend on whether you are planning on applying for a consent order (also known as a financial order). If you are aren’t then you are looking at around 4-5 months for your divorce to be finalised, although this timeline will likely change with the introduction of ‘no-fault divorce’ in April 2022.
If you are planning on splitting your finances and formalising your financial arrangements via a consent order, some people choose to start filing before finalising their agreements. You can do this to keep the process moving, but should not file for decree absolute until you have reached a settlement that has been sealed by a judge.
These are the divorce basics for filing paperwork at court:
Complete and file your divorce petition, form D8. We don’t have ‘no-fault divorce’ in this country so you have to choose one of the following reasons for the marriage breakdown:
- Two years separation if you both agree
- Five years separation if only one of you agrees
- Desertion or
- Unreasonable behaviour
- The court sends the petition to your partner – along with an ‘acknowledgement of service form’, for them to return. If they don’t, the process continues automatically after two weeks
- Complete and file your decree nisi application detailing the reason you have chosen for the divorce
- The court considers whether the marriage has broken down ‘irretrievably’. If accepted the date decree nisi is pronounced will be confirmed. You will not have to attend court unless there is an issue over costs
- If you are choosing a consent order to make agreements about finances/children legally binding you must complete forms, D81 and Form A. File these forms with your consent order (which must be written by a legal professional such as amicable) to the court at this time
- If the judge has questions about your settlement you may be asked to attend a hearing
- After 6 weeks and one day you can apply for your decree absolute, however, you should wait until your consent order has been sealed by the judge and the transfer period of 28 days has passed (if you have a pension sharing order).
- You are legally divorced once you receive your decree absolute certificate
Where can you find help?
amicable can help with some, or all of the above steps, including assisting with the divorce paperwork, helping you to sort out your finances and your childcare arrangements. We keep the family unit as the central consideration ensuring you can build a new life post-separation
What are the five stages of divorce?
In terms of the divorce paperwork, there are five key stages: the petition, the acknowledgement of service, decree nisi, a consent order (optional), the decree absolute.
What do I need to know before divorce?
You will need to sort out three things if you plan on getting divorced: your childcare arrangements, any financial arrangements and the legal paperwork.
Is there a disadvantage to filing for divorce first?
This depends on your situation. One disadvantage might be that when you file your divorce petition, you will need to pay your court fees (£593), unless you are exempt or eligible for a discount. Whilst you can include a cost sharing order in the petition, you will have to wait for a judge to grant it.
At amicable you are able to spread cost of our services and choose to split the cost between you and your ex.