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Family Law Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the grounds for a divorce?

The ground for a divorce in England & Wales is the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. This can be proved by one of five facts:

  1. Unreasonable behaviour.
  2. Adultery.
  3. Desertion.
  4. Two years’ separation with consent.
  5. Five years’ separation.

2. How long will it take me to get a divorce?

For a straightforward divorce we estimate five to six months to the pronouncement of the final divorce. However, sometimes the decree absolute (final divorce) is delayed whilst financial matters are resolved.

3. My wife/husband has always supported me financially – how will I manage in the event of a divorce?

If you have been financially dependent upon your husband or wife throughout the marriage, then you may be eligible for spousal maintenance after the divorce where appropriate. The Court would consider your income and outgoings and those of your husband or wife and then make an order for spousal maintenance if appropriate.

4. Will I have to pay child maintenance?

If you are not living with your child and you are earning an income then you will have to pay child maintenance.  The level of child maintenance will depend upon the amount of your income and the number of children as follows:

No of ChildrenGross Weekly IncomePercentage
1Up to and including £80012%
2Up to and including £80016%
3Up to and including £80019%
1£800 - £3,0009%
2£800 - £3,00012%
3£800 - £3,00015%


Child maintenance will be reduced if you have the children to stay with you for more than 52 nights as follows:

No. of NightsReduction
52 - 1031/7th
104 - 1552/7th
156 - 1743/7th
175 or more1/2th

5. How will the assets be divided, i.e. income, pension, business, property, capital?

The Court will consider all of the assets of the marriage, including those available now, for example matrimonial home, savings etc. and those assets available in the future, e.g. pensions. The Court will consider a number of factors such as the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, health, earning capacity of the parties and ages of any children of the marriage.

6. Can I force my wife/husband out of the house?

The Court can order a spouse to leave the matrimonial home or order them not to return to the home if they have already left. Whether the Court will order this will depend on the evidence. Along with other issues, the Court will consider whether there has been any history of violence, threats of violence or incidents of violence. This Injunction Order can be obtained very quickly and without the violent spouse’s initial knowledge if necessary.

7. What rights do I have in relation to my children?

A married mother and father of a child will automatically acquire legal rights in relation to that child. This is called parental responsibility. Once a party has parental responsibility then they can apply to the Court for an order that the child spends time with them or lives with them, this is known as a 'Child Arrangements Order'. If the parties are not married the mother automatically acquires Parental Responsibility. If the child was born after December 2003 and the father is registered on the birth certificate then the unmarried father would also acquire automatic parental responsibility. However, if the child was born before that date or the father is not registered on the birth certificate, then the unmarried father must acquire parental responsibility by entering into an agreement with the mother or by applying to the Court for an Order.

Get in touch with our family law solicitors in Orpington

If you require further advice, please fill in our Online Enquiry Form and a member of our family law team will contact you as soon as possible. Alternatively, email the head of our family law solicitor team Orpington, Claire Schneck.