Divorce Solicitors

The formalities of the marriage process are matched by strict rules about when and how a couple may divorce. If you think that your relationship has irretrievably broken down, talk to us. We’ll advise you on the steps you should take, and we’ll be alongside you when you take them.

Our team is made up of family law specialists with many years’ experience in the legal, practical and emotional aspects of divorce. We have one simple aim: to help you bring your marriage to a formal end as quickly and simply – and on the best possible terms – as possible.

We can provide clear, practical guidance for all of the issues involved in the end of marriage, including initiating and responding to divorce proceedings, as well as making financial settlements and arrangements for children.

We recognise that every client’s circumstances are different, requiring a tailored approach that matches your needs and concerns. We’ll get to know your situation and work with you to make sure that your future, and that of your loved ones, is taken care of.

Speak to one of our divorce solicitors in Bristol or Winterbourne today by calling 0117 909 4000 or use the links at the bottom of the page to make an enquiry or request a call back.

Our divorce and family dispute resolution services

Our divorce and family dispute resolution team can guide you through every step of the process of legally ending your relationship, as well as helping to resolve the practical issues surrounding divorce and separation, such as financial settlements and arrangements for children.

Divorce proceedings

We can guide you through the entire legal process of your divorce, including preparing and submitting your divorce petition, corresponding with your ex-partner and their lawyer and applying for the decree absolute that formally ends your marriage.

With our expert guidance, we can minimise the likelihood of any mistakes that could see your divorce application rejected, ensure that the grounds you cite for your divorce are sufficient to satisfy a judge and help avoid or quickly resolve any other issues that threaten to delay your divorce.

Financial settlements

There are often a number of different financial considerations to sort out when getting divorced, including what should happen to the marital home, how any savings, investments and other assets should be divided and what, if any, maintenance should be paid between spouses.

Our divorce lawyers are highly experienced in resolving these issues. We can help to ensure you get a fair settlement that works for you and your loved ones as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

Arrangements for children

Deciding what should happen to any children you and your partner have together is often once of the most contentious issues during divorce. The emphasis always needs to be on the wellbeing of your children, while protecting your right to a meaningful relationship with them.

A number of our team specialise in children law, so we can help you explore your options and negotiate a solution amicably with your ex-partner wherever possible, or support you in taking court action where required.

Why choose Henriques Griffiths’ divorce solicitors?

Henriques Griffiths has been helping individuals and families to navigate divorce and the issues connected to divorce since 1973. Offering exceptional legal expertise with an empathetic and highly practical approach, we aim to make dealing with divorce as easy as possible while ensuring you achieve the right outcome for you and your loved ones.

Our Law Society accreditations & memberships

Our team includes members of the Law Society’s Family Law and Children Law panels, recognising the high standard of our legal practice in these areas. Our divorce lawyers also include a member of Resolution, specialising in non-confrontational family dispute resolution, and a specialist in domestic abuse cases.

The firm also benefits from a Conveyancing Quality Scheme accredited Residential Property team, who can assist with the many property issues often involved in divorce, such as selling or transferring ownership of the family home.

Henriques Griffiths is Lexcel accredited by the Law Society in recognition of our excellent practice management and client care. We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) providing assurance that we continually meet the highest legal and professional standards.

Divorce FAQs

How long does divorce take?

Every couple is different so there is no set formula for working out how long your divorce will take. A straightforward divorce (where the couple is mostly in agreement and/or where there are no complex financial arrangements to work out) usually takes around 4-6 months. However, there are many factors that can affect the length of the process, such as:

  • If you or your spouse disagrees with the reasons for divorce given on the application – defended proceedings can take longer to work out, particularly if you end up in court (this situation is rare)
  • How swiftly you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement about matters such as the financial settlement or arrangements for any children
  • Whether there are any particularly complex aspects of your divorce, such as international aspects or family businesses

What are the ‘grounds’ for divorce?

There is only really one ground for divorce – the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship. To prove this, you have to rely on one or more of the five ‘facts’ or ‘reasons’:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Separation for two years with the consent of your spouse
  • Separation for five years, no consent needed
  • Desertion by your spouse for at least two years

Usually, if your spouse agrees to the divorce, the family judge will not question your reasons. However, if your spouse objects to the divorce or your reasons, you may have to prove them in court.

This process is changing from Autumn 2021 – see what is no-fault divorce below.

What is the most common reason for divorce?

Unreasonable behaviour is the most common reason for divorce. In theory, it applies where one party to the marriage has behaved so badly that it is unreasonable to expect the other party to continue living with them, such as extreme gambling, alcoholism or emotional detachment. However, it is generally used as the ‘catch-all’ reason for all couples who want to get divorced quickly (rather than waiting for two or five years). In many cases, couples who have simply drifted apart or fallen out of love also rely on unreasonable behaviour even though they do not think the entire divorce can be blamed on the bad behaviour of one party. Some couples also rely on it where their spouse was unfaithful because the adultery fact has some strict legal requirements that make it harder to use.

This process is changing from Autumn 2021 – see what is no-fault divorce below.

Does it matter who starts the divorce?

The outcome of the divorce will not be affected by who starts the process. However, the person who starts (the ‘applicant’ or the ‘petitioner’) may have more control over how quickly the proceedings move forward. For example, the applicant can apply for the decree absolute (final divorce order) six weeks and one day after the decree nisi (conditional order) is issued. However, if the applicant does not apply for the decree absolute, their spouse has to wait a further three months to apply.

There may also be an emotional element to who applies for the divorce. If the applicant relies on the adultery or unreasonable behaviour facts, by accepting the divorce, the respondent (the person who is served the divorce petition by the applicant) technically accepts fault for the relationship breakdown. Although this does not have any impact on the outcome of the divorce, many people feel strongly that they should not be held at fault. They may therefore prefer to be the applicant rather than the respondent.

This process is changing from Autumn 2021 – see what is no-fault divorce below.

How long do you have to be separated before you can divorce?

To rely on the separation grounds for divorce, you must have been separated for at least two or five years. Separation means that you have been living independent lives; you are allowed to remain living in the same house so long as you are not living together as a married couple (for example, you sleep in separate rooms and don’t share meals).

To separate after two years, you and your spouse must both consent to the divorce. After five years, either spouse can apply for divorce without the consent of the other.

This process is changing from Autumn 2021 – see what is no-fault divorce below.

Does adultery or unreasonable behaviour affect the outcome of divorce?

In the vast majority of cases, adultery and unreasonable behaviour will not affect the divorce, including the outcome of the financial settlement or arrangements for children. However, family judges are able to take conduct into account during the proceedings if it is so extreme that it cannot be ignored, for example, serious domestic violence which puts one of the spouses and any children at risk of harm.

What is no-fault divorce?

Divorce law is changing in Autumn 2021. Couples will no longer need to rely on one or more of the five ‘facts’ to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship. All they will need to do is provide a statement stating that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. This will remove the need to ‘blame’ the entire divorce on one spouse. It will also no longer be possible to object to the divorce, saving individuals from lengthy and stressful court battles.

Couples will also be able to submit joint divorce applications, acknowledging that divorce is usually a mutual decision. However, couples will have to wait at least 20 weeks from the issue of the decree nisi (which is to be renamed a ‘conditional order’) to apply for the decree absolute (which will become ‘final order’). This period will give couples time to reflect on their separation and make suitable arrangements regarding children and finances.

Do you have to go to court to get a divorce?

Most couples do not have to go to court to get a divorce (other than submitting the paper applications). If you and your spouse both agree to the divorce and you are able to come to an agreement about matters such as childcare, maintenance payments and the division of finances, there is no need for court proceedings.

You can either sort out children and financial matters informally between yourselves, with the input of a divorce solicitor, or using methods of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or collaborative law.

We will help you explore all possible options before opting for court proceedings. However, in the event that an application to court is necessary, we will represent your best interests and fight for a positive outcome on your behalf.

What are you entitled to in a divorce settlement?

In the UK, matrimonial finances are divided according to what is ‘fair’. Matrimonial finances can include:

  • The family home
  • Pensions
  • Savings and investments
  • Belongings such as cars and furniture
  • Businesses

You must also work out matters such as how debts will be paid going forwards and any child maintenance and spousal maintenance agreements.

What is a ‘fair’ split does not necessarily mean an ‘equal’ split. You should take into account factors such as:

  • Your incomes and future earning capacity
  • Your financial needs
  • Who will primarily look after the children and their needs
  • Your contributions to the marriage over the years (including non-financial contributions such as raising the children or taking care of the family home)

The final settlement may be an uneven split to reflect the different needs and resources of each spouse.

Our divorce solicitors can help you work through financial issues and sort out a settlement that provides you with financial security and reflects your contributions to your marriage over the years.

Get in touch with our divorce lawyers and family dispute resolution experts now

For help with any aspect of divorce, including to arrange mediation or the assistance of a collaborative law expert, please call us on 0117 909 4000 or use the links below to make an enquiry or request a call back.