An Analysis of Divorce in the UK

analysis of UK divorce

Divorce is not a topic that married, or engaged to be married couples ever want to broach in general conversation. It’s always best to be prepared, so why avoid a discussion that could help your marriage stick in the long run?

The marriage-divorce ratio in the UK is encroaching on 2:1, with 44% of marriages resulting in separation for couples. However, a survey conducted by relationship support experts Relate showed that currently, out of the 5,000 people who were surveyed, 78% felt happy, and even perfect about their relationship. Only 13% of those 5,000 people said that they occasionally regretted getting married or civil-partnered, so why is the divorce ratio so high for UK couples?

The infographic below lays out all the information you need in order to keep your marriage in tip top condition, and steered clear away from the path of divorce. It details the top 10 most common disruptions in a marriage, as well as the 7 signs one should be on the lookout for, in order to address the situations and hopefully right them. Every marriage has its ups and downs, and with the gap between the number of marriages and divorces growing further and further apart, it’s proof that couples now are working harder at keeping theirs together.

Infographic of divorce in UK

We wish you the absolute best of luck with your marriage, but we're always here to help you through the process should you decide to divorce, with our top notch Family Law services.

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What To Think About When Drawing Up A Custody Arrangement

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In the second of our ‘What To Think About…’ series, our family law specialist, Jonathan Gilbert , advises you on what needs to be taken into consideration when drawing up what is commonly referred to as a custody agreement.

I’m going to start this guide by stating three things;

1) If you find yourself in a custody battle, you’ll hear the term ‘child arrangements order’ a lot – a child arrangements order sets out who a child should live with and who he or she should spend time with.

2) Your actions and the things you say about the other side can adversely affect the child or children. No matter how much you may dislike the other side, conduct yourself with class as you may negatively affect your relationship with the child or children as well as their relationship with the other parent or guardian. A bitter custody dispute benefits no one, least of all the child or children.

3) When deciding on the details of a child arrangements order, the judge is going to put the best interests of the child first at all times. When deciding on custody, no one is more important than the child or children.

​When putting together a child arrangements order, or custody agreement, there are several options available. In this short guide, I will present these possibilities so that parents, anyone else who may have parental responsibility and other people, such as grandparents, who can also apply for an order, know what to expect from the process.

1. Legal Representation is Very Important

I would strongly advise anyone seeking to establish custody arrangements in respect of a child to consult with a solicitor before starting any legal proceedings. We can explain the full set of available options according to the particularities of the case, as well as the consequences they would have for both the parents or guardians and the children. This could prove extremely useful for the entire family because a solicitor could help the spouses make an informed decision quickly, thus preventing the need for costly and lengthy court proceedings.

2. The Main Types of Custody Agreement

A ‘child arrangements order’ will decide the following:

Black and white photo of a father reading to his son
  • where the child or children lives (Living arrangements)
  • how much time the child or children spend time with each parent or guardian (Quality time)
  • when and what other types of contact, such as phone calls, take place (Additional arrangements)
  • Living Arrangements
  • Quality Time
  • Additional Arrangements

In the majority of circumstances, a judge will always try to create a child arrangements order where the child or children spend time living with both parents. In practice, although shared residence is becoming more frequent, you should know that often the child or children will live with one parent for more time than another in order to ensure a level of stability for the child. Therefore, the child will most likely live with one parent during the week to make sure they have an established routine during term-time and then will spend alternate weekends with each parent. More and more though, judges are now trying to ensure that both parents get time with their children during the week and at weekends in my experience.

Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps Orders

Furthermore, a Specific Issue Order may also be put in place by a judge. This deals with a specific question regarding how the child is brought up, such as which school they will attend and whether they will receive a religious education. In addition, a parent or guardian can also apply for a Prohibited Steps order in order to prevent the other parent or guardian from unilaterally making a decision about the child’s upbringing.

3. How To Reach A Custody Arrangement

The process leading to the establishment of a custody agreement mainly depends on the relationship between the parents. If they are able to reach a decision amicably, then it can remain informal. However, in most cases, parents cannot reach a mutually beneficial agreement and, as such, they opt for a more complex legal path towards determining custodial boundaries.

  • Informal Custody ARRANGEMENTS
  • Mediation
  • Family Court

This is the simplest way to reach a custody agreement, as parents can negotiate on their own terms and find an arrangement that benefits them both, as well as the child. They may opt to involve a solicitor to make their decision official, or they may opt to avoid legal proceedings altogether. Note that this is a viable option only for parents who are able to trust one another fully.

As you can see, the process of reaching a custody agreement can either be simple or extremely complex, depending on the relationship between the two parents. It is crucial that they seek legal support in this process because they must be aware of all the options available to them, as well as the long-term implications of each action they choose to take.

Ultimately, as I suggested at the start of this guide, parents really should put the child’s best interest ahead of their personal grievances with one another. Custody battles could prove to be emotionally traumatizing for kids. Therefore, if there is even a chance of reaching an agreement amicably, those with parental responsibility should always explore this option before taking the case to court.

​If you ever need to draw up a custody agreement, please don't hesitate to contact us. Your first half-hour consultation is free and we'll do everything we can help you through what can be a difficult process.

What To Think About When Starting Divorce Proceedings

OImage of a wedding ring circling definition of divorce with title overlaid

Picture of Jon Gilbert

In the first in our ‘What To Think About…’ series, our family law specialist, Jonathan Gilbert, outlines what to keep in mind if you ever unfortunately feel that you need to start divorce proceedings against your partner.

The emotional turmoil caused by parting with your spouse or civil partner can be nerve-wracking and heartbreaking. However, it is crucial that you find a way to leave all this aside and assess your situation as clearly as possible before you start divorce proceedings.

In this short guide, I will tell you the most important things you need to consider before setting things in motion so that you are properly represented and protected. The most important aspect you should remember is that from a legal standpoint, divorce has nothing to do with your feelings.

As such, you should direct all your efforts towards getting thoroughly prepared to deal with the legal implications. This will actually help you get through the separation rapidly and efficiently so that you can then focus on your emotions and get over this traumatic event.

1. Think Carefully About What You Want

Before making any rash decisions, you need to consider what you want to get out of your divorce. While this may be highly unpleasant, you should set your objectives before you embark on this legal endeavour. While the apparent goal is obviously separating from your spouse, there are a few other aspects you should think about, such as child arrangements orders, and claims to properties and other belongings.

You should also know that there is never a winner when it comes to divorce. It is a complex legal process that will have life-altering effects on both you and your spouse. Moreover, you are highly unlikely to get absolutely everything you want, so make sure you prioritise your goals. You should be ready to make a few concessions as well, especially if you want to expedite the process.

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2. Seek The Counsel of a Solicitor

No matter how you intend to proceed with your divorce, the first thing you need to do is seek professional legal advice. You must find a lawyer who specialises in Family Law and Divorce to help you organise a solid plan for the upcoming progression.

I recommend you do this as early as possible because your solicitor can explain the options you have available in terms of legal proceedings. A professional can also assist you in developing a divorce strategy that can help you achieve the objectives you have set.

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3. Find The Ideal Divorce Process For You

Your solicitor will advise you which legal process is best-suited for your situation, but it will be your decision in the end. Make sure you’re fully informed about the advantages and disadvantages of each process so that you can proceed with the best course of action for your situation. Here are the main options you can choose from:

Going to court

This is the most complicated legal process you can choose for your divorce. It is both costly and traumatising for you and your spouse, so resort to this only if you have no other alternative. If there is even a slight chance of a successful communication with your partner, then you should probably try mediation or collaborative divorce before you take matters to court.

Image of Schopin's painting :Le divorce de l'Impératrice Joséphine

With this option too, the final decisions about your life will be taken by a judge. This means that no matter how strong your case is, there is a possibility that things will not go the way you expect them to. My advice is to avoid going to court unless absolutely necessary.

Solicitor to Solicitor Negotiation

​This is the usual way solicitors are involved in the divorce process– we negotiate the divorce for you, doing our upmost to protect your position and make sure you are well looked after, without needing to face your former partner in meetings. Asking a solicitor to do all the work for you is an expensive way forward though. While I am happy to undertake all of the work on a client’s behalf, I would not be doing my job properly if I didn’t advise that the process of going back and forth with no contact between the clients can make this a lengthy process. Therefore, if you and your ex-partner can find a way to communicate effectively, it will help to reduce the timescale of the process and reduce some of the costs for both of you.

​Mediation

This is one of the least aggressive legal processes you can opt for, which makes it a viable option if you think you can communicate efficiently with your former spouse. Together with your solicitor, you will have to draft an agreement that features what you expect to get from the divorce.

This includes everything from claims to individually-owned properties and items, as well as joint belongings, and child custody claims. It is crucial that this document is written by a solicitor as it must feature the proper terminology.

Scrabble tiles spelling out the word mediation

Then, the agreement is assessed by your partner together with his or her solicitor, and you will receive a second version of the document that features their decision about the claims you have set. You will then review the new agreement with your representative to decide if you are satisfied with the terms.

You should be prepared to make several drafts of the divorce agreement until you can get the final version that represents your wishes, as well as your partner’s. Finally, you and your spouse will sign the contract, and you will divide the matrimonial assets accordingly. Any such agreement should then be embodied in a Financial Consent Order to be sealed by a judge.

​Collaborative Divorce

This is yet another viable option you should consider if you and your spouse are willing to work things out outside of court. Each of you will have legal representation, and you will participate in negotiating sessions. These will be supervised by a team of specialists, including accountants and mental health professionals, who can help with the decision-making process.

It features face-to-face meetings, as well as telephone calls and e-mails with the aim of identifying the final terms of the divorce that can represent the wishes of both partners. When the negotiations are complete, the solicitors will finalise the divorce.

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4. Prepare Documentation for your Belongings

Before you begin the official proceedings for divorce, you should make a comprehensive inventory of your belongings. This could prove useful during the divorce process, especially if you are dealing with a hostile spouse.

I recommend you make a list of the items you own separately and one for those that are jointly owned by you and your spouse. You should also gather the required documentation for these items, such as copies of the property documents and photographs displaying them in your home.

Aside from the items themselves, you should also include the day’s newspaper in your photographs to establishan indisputable timeline. It may also prove useful to determine the value of your belongings, so make sure you get a professional assessment of your valuable items.

All in all, there is no easy way to get through a divorce, but being properly prepared for the legal process will help you get as much as possible from it. Confide in your solicitor so that you can find the ideal legal techniques that will enable you to reach your objectives. A professional can guide you through every step of the process so that you can put an end to this part of your life in a swift and relatively trouble-free manner.

If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing to start divorce proceedings, please don't hesitate to contact us. Your first half-hour consultation is free and we'll do everything we can help you through what can be a difficult process.