Divorce & Separation

Separation, divorce and dissolution of a civil partnership can be a very difficult time for all concerned. As well as the emotional side of the divorce, there are the legal implications.

If you want to separate but NOT get a divorce then there are steps you can take to record any separation agreement about children and finances. You should obtain legal advice about this.


Family and matrimonial law Ridley & HallDivorce or Judicial Separation (legal separation) can be straightforward when you know what to do. For most people, divorcing is a very big step to take. Many divorcing couples have difficulties sorting out arrangements for the children, or sorting out financial issues. We will guide you through the divorce process and ensure you make the right decisions for you and your family.


How long does a divorce take?

All non divorce petitions are now issued from a regional divorce centre. Depending on the courts workload it can vary between each region how long it will take the court to process the paperwork and ultimately finalise the divorce.

Generally a divorce which is straight forward takes between 5 and 6 months. There are certain instances when a divorce can take longer – there can be financial issues which need to be sorted out, and you might be advised not to apply for the decree absolute until that has been done. Alternatively, there may be difficulties with the other person not returning papers. We can help you overcome these obstacles.

How do you apply for a divorce?
  1. A divorce petition needs to be completed.
  2. The divorce paperwork is sent to your local divorce centre along with your marriage certificate (it must be the original) and payment of the Court fee which is currently £550.
  3. The Court will then take a few days generally to check the paperwork is right, and to allocate the case a case number – this is very important, and is used by the court to identify your case. They will then send the papers to the other person (the Respondent).
  4. The Respondent has 14 days to return a form called the acknowledgement of service to the Court. The form will then be sent out to you.
  5. At this stage, a statement in support of your divorce petition is completed, along with an application for Decree Nisi. These documents are sent to the Court.
  6. The papers then go before a Judge. Once the Judge has read your papers, they will check to make sure that everything is order, and the Judge believes you have the grounds to be divorced. If the Judge is satisfied that everything is in order he or she will list your case for pronouncement of Decree Nisi. This is listed, and you will receive notification of the date and time that the Court will be making this announcement. There is usually no need to go to court, unless there is a disagreement between you and the Respondent about costs, in which case the Judge may need you to attend Court. We can represent you at this hearing.
  7. 6 weeks and 1 day after the making of the decree nisi, we can apply for your decree absolute. There may be financial issues to sort out, so we will always advise you whether it is better to wait.
What happens if the Respondent in Divorce doesn’t return the paperwork?
  1. To get your decree nisi you have to satisfy a court that you have served the Respondent with the papers.
  2. This will mean that either an enquiry agent/process server is arranged to personally serve the divorce papers, or alternatively, an application can be made to get the Court Bailiffs to personally serve them.
  3. Once the report has been received confirming that the Respondent has been personally served, an application can be made for your decree nisi, even though the Respondent hasn’t returned the papers.
Can we get divorced even if we live under the same roof ?

Yes you can, provided that you can confirm to the Court that even though you are living under the same roof, you are maintaining separate households. This means that we have to confirm to the court that you are not sharing meals, you are not sharing a bed, you do not have sex, you do not cook and clean for each other, and that your finances are, as far as possible, separated. The Judge may ask for a statement from each of you to confirm that is the position.

Can we get divorced if I think my ex is committing adultery but won’t admit it?

You can only rely on the ground of adultery if there is an admission that adultery has been committed. If the Respondent will not admit to the adultery, then you cannot go ahead on that ground. We would then have to consider if there were grounds for divorce under the heading of unreasonable behaviour.

Divorce costs

We are able to offer 2 different divorce cost payment options – see pricing tables below

For all services, there is a court fee payable of £550 to issue divorce proceedings. If you are on a low income you might qualify for a court fee exemption, which may mean that you do not have to pay any of the court fee, or a smaller amount. We can advise you on your eligibility for court fee exemption.

This cost is in respect of divorce proceedings only. You may also need advice about finances and children which will cost extra. We offer a wide range of funding options to try and meet your legal needs and your budget.

Service options

Option 1

Fixed Fee Divorce

Here WE go on the Court record as acting for you, and we prepare ALL the paperwork and send it out to the Court for you, so we take away ALL the administrative responsibility for the divorce itself. WE deal with the Court responses and with the Respondent direct.

This fixed fee divorce service is ideal where you are not comfortable dealing with all the paperwork and/or you would prefer not to have to have direct contact with the Respondent. It can still become complicated if the Respondent does not return forms or if the Court are not satisfied that the grounds for divorce have been met in your case. If that happens you can upgrade to option 4 as below or pay an additional fixed fee to pay for us to organize personal service on the Respondent or submit additional information/applications to the court to secure the outcome you need.

Where there are complicated issues to resolve around how to separate finances in a divorce you should instruct a Solicitor to help and advise.

The cost of this service is £500 plus VAT total of £600.

Option 2


Here you pay by the hour for the service of a divorce solicitor or legal executive, which means that you will get a service that is tailored to your personal needs and requirements. Because of this, the cost will vary from client to client. This will particularly suit clients who are very anxious about the divorce proceedings, who need a lot of reassurance or for clients who have complex family legal problems. We will give you a costs estimate at the outset and we will update that estimate as the case progresses if the circumstances change. We ask for £500 on account of our costs at the outset of the case, when we will agree also arrangements for further payment as the case progresses.

This is ideal when you want us to deal with every aspect of the divorce process to give you peace of mind and take away the stress of dealing with it yourself. It is also advised for complicated divorce cases when you need extra legal support to secure a good outcome.

Our hourly rates differ depending on who is representing you but we will set these out for you very clearly at the outset before you decide to instruct us.

Free Enquiry

  • "All communication and correspondence was dealt with quickly and efficiently"

    30 June 2017
  • "The mediator was very sympathetic and I felt I was listened to and believed."

    26 August 2017
  • "Thanks for all your efforts yesterday, highly appreciated. It was a win win for every body and above all great outcome for the child"

    7 December 2017
  • "I just want to take this opportunity to thank you for all your efforts over the last year. I found it a fantastic service from yourself and I’m using Ridley & Hall for the conveyancing of a property I’m buying due to that service. I’ll be sure to unreservedly recommend you to anyone needing legal advice now and in the future. Thanks again"

    3 May 2018
  • "Great service. The service from Vicky and Ridley & Hall was second to none.  Overall, a satisfied customer."

    28 May 2018
  • "Excellent Service"

    26 September 2018
  • "I was content with the level of service I received, thanks."

    25 August 2018
  • "I didn’t know what to expect but was very happy with the service you provided, thank you!"

    6 July 2018
  • "I have dealt with Melanie Hartley. At all times, all members of staff have been helpful and professional. I would highly recommend the firm."

    28 September 2018