How To Navigate Divorce

Navigating through a divorce is undoubtedly a challenging process, both emotionally and practically. From initiating proceedings to considering financial and legal implications, there are numerous aspects to consider.

Family Solicitor Tiffany Shoesmith explains the practical points to consider when the decision has been made to start the journey to divorce.

Does it matter who files for divorce first?

When deciding how to navigate a divorce, one common question is whether one party will benefit from initiating proceedings.

Contrary to popular belief, the individual initiating the divorce has no inherent advantage in court proceedings.

Since the introduction of no-fault divorce in April 2022, the court no longer requires or considers reasons for the breakdown of the marriage, diminishing the significance of who initiates the process.

There is still an argument that the person starting the case has some control over the pace of the proceedings, although in the end, the respondent can (after a further wait) still apply to conclude the divorce.

Whether you choose to file for divorce individually or opt for a joint application with your former partner, the process typically takes around six months to complete.

How much does a divorce cost?

Prices vary, but it is common for a Solicitor to offer a fixed fee arrangement for the divorce itself.

There is a court fee of £593 which is payable upon submitting the divorce application.  If you have a low income there is a Help With Fees scheme and you may be eligible for a full or part reduction in the court fee.

What documents are needed for divorce?

If you are filing for a divorce you or your Solicitor will need to submit a divorce application online. You will also need to send your marriage certificate and the court fee or an exemption form if are not required to pay.

You must upload the marriage certificate when submitting your divorce application.  If this is not available to you then you can apply to the Registry Office for a further certified copy for a small fee.

If your spouse has filed for a divorce, you or your solicitor will need to complete an ‘acknowledgement of service’ form.  The courts prefer this to be done electronically but you may prefer to post it to the courts.

You do not need to include any paperwork, but you will need to submit the form within the timeframe specified by the court.

How does Divorce affect finances?

The eventual outcome in terms of what happens to property, including the former marital home, will vary from couple to couple, and will be determined by the process of financial separation (see below). This process does not automatically start just because of a divorce, and it is important to get independent legal advice before making major changes to your finances. However, there are some things which alter when a divorce is made final, surrounding the rights of spouses.

Updating your Will

It is important you review and potentially update your Will upon separation and upon the granting of the divorce.

Updating your Will can potentially shield your estate from potential claims under the Inheritance Act. Even after divorce, an ex-spouse might still be able to claim financial provisions in certain situations. However, keeping your Will up to date can help you plan and minimise the chances of such a claim being successful.

We would advise you to speak to a Solicitor who specialises in Wills and Estates and seek specific advice on how the divorce may impact your estate to ensure it is protected against any future claims from your ex-partner.

Why is it important to check your insurance policies and pension?

Reviewing your insurance policies and pensions is crucial for financial security, as overlooking them can have significant repercussions.

Policies often designate spouses as beneficiaries automatically, which is why you should review and update them following separation.

Updating policies ensures the right beneficiaries receive benefits. It also prevents unintended consequences, like an ex-spouse inheriting assets or benefits.

Your pensions accumulated during marriage are likely to have been divided in the divorce which will also impact your retirement plans.

Regularly reassessing insurance and pension arrangements post-divorce guarantees that your financial plans align with your current preferences, whether towards children, siblings, or other circumstances.

If you would like help reviewing your pension after a divorce, it is advisable to seek specialist legal advice to ensure your assets are protected.

What happens to rights over the marital home upon divorce?

Whose name is on the title deeds to the property?  If both parties own a property, then this can either be on the basis of ‘Joint Tenants’ or ‘Tenants in Common’.  This will have been determined when the property was bought or transferred into joint names.

If you hold the property as Joint Tenants (most married couples do) then this means that by default the property would automatically pass to the other spouse on death. You can change this however so that the property would then pass in accordance with a Will instead.  This is called ‘severing the joint tenancy’. You then hold the property as Tenants in Common.

If the house is registered in the sole name of the other party, then as their spouse you may still have an equitable interest in the property.  Without any protection, the registered owner could sell, transfer or borrow against the house without the spouse’s consent and it is not always possible for the court to correct this after the event.

If this applies to you it is important to protect your position by registering your rights via a Home Rights Notice at the Land Registry. This is a significant protection in most cases, although such Rights expire on divorce and may need a different protection of interests if that occurs, and the house has yet to be sold.

If I start a divorce what happens next?

After initiating divorce proceedings, there’s a mandatory 20-week waiting period before you can apply for the Conditional Order, previously known as the Decree Nisi. This order signifies the court’s approval of the divorce without formally terminating the marriage.

It is essential to note that divorce proceedings only focus on dissolving the marriage itself. Decisions regarding financial matters and children’s arrangements are handled separately. Seeking initial divorce advice from a Solicitor on these matters is advisable.

Where children are involved, reaching an agreement between the parties regarding arrangements for the children can often remove the need for court intervention.

With financial matters, even if amicable, it is wise to have the agreement endorsed by the court (you may not need to attend) so that the position is clear and final. Such agreements, called Consent Orders, can be dealt with by the court after the Conditional Order is granted which will become effective upon the final order being made in the divorce.

Mediation is also a valuable option for resolving disputes amicably. A Solicitor can provide invaluable guidance throughout this process, assessing the issues and offering practical advice on divorce. Should the court need to intervene to decide financial or children’s matters or to address abusive behaviour, a Solicitor can provide essential support and representation.

How can Butcher & Barlow help with divorce?

Navigating through the complexities of divorce requires careful consideration of the practical and legal aspects.

As you embark on this journey, remember to prioritise seeking professional legal help for divorce to ensure your interests are safeguarded.

Whether updating legal documents, protecting property rights, or navigating financial implications, Butcher & Barlow is here to provide comprehensive support tailored to your needs.

Do not hesitate to reach out and take proactive steps towards securing your future post-divorce.

Our Divorce and Civil Partnership Dissolution Team remain available for advice and guidance on any existing or new matter.

Please get in touch via or directly with your nearest office to arrange an initial meeting. Tiffany can be contacted on

Tiffany Shoesmith

Tiffany Shoesmith

This blog is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. The information here may not be applicable to your specific circumstances. Butcher & Barlow cannot be held responsible for any actions taken based on the information provided. Always consult with your professional legal advisor before making any legal decisions.