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Divorce Without Consent

The vast majority of divorces in the UK are undefended, meaning the spouse who receives the divorce petition does not choose to contest the divorce. However, in the small number of cases where a spouse chooses to dispute a divorce petition, the right legal advice and support is essential to achieve a positive outcome.

Crisp & Co’s divorce solicitors are highly experienced in both defended and undefended divorce, allowing us to offer straightforward, practical advice no matter how your divorce proceeds. Where your spouse does choose to defend the divorce, we can guide you through your options to resolve matters as quickly as possible allowing your divorce to go ahead.

With our expertise in non-confrontational dispute resolution, we can usually resolve most points of contention outside of a court hearing. This can then save you time, money and unnecessary conflict, and is usually the best option for everyone involved. However, where court action is needed, we have the experience to effectively represent your interests and secure a positive outcome.

For advice and support with a defended divorce, please get in touch with our divorce solicitors in London and across the South East now by calling 020 8017 8962 or contact your local Crisp & Co office.

How to get divorced without your spouse’s consent

To get divorced without your spouse’s agreement, you have two options:

  1. Wait until you have lived separately for 5 years then submit a divorce petition.
  2. Go to court and have a judge decide whether your divorce can go ahead.

In many cases, people do not realise their spouse will defend the divorce until it happens. The standard process for a contested divorce will usually be as follows:

  1. You submit a divorce petition to your local family court stating your reasons for wanting to end your marriage.
  2. You spouse will then have 8 days to respond stating whether they intend to defend the divorce or not.
  3. If your spouse chooses to defend the divorce, they will then have a further 21 days to submit their reasons for doing so to the court.
  4. At this point, we recommend meeting with your spouse, supported by one of our specialist divorce solicitors to see if the situation can be resolved amicably, allowing your divorce petition to go ahead. This may involve modifying your divorce petition or agreeing practical issues such as a financial settlement or arrangements for children.
  5. Whether the dispute over your divorce has been resolved or not, you will then need to apply for a decree nisi. This is an official court document saying that the court sees no reason your divorce should go ahead. If the dispute has been resolved and your spouse has withdrawn their objection, getting a decree nisi should be straightforward. However, if your spouse still wishes to defend the divorce, you will normally need to attend a hearing in front of a judge where they will decide whether it is appropriate to grant a decree nisi or not.
  6. If a decree nisi is granted, you will need to wait at least 43 days, then apply for a decree absolute. Once this is issued, your marriage is officially ended. If a judge does not issue a decree nisi, you may need to start over with a fresh divorce application.

Why would someone defend a divorce petition?

There are two main reasons people defend divorce petitions:

  1. They are worried the divorce might cause them financial hardship.
  2. They disagree with the reasons given in the divorce petition for ending the marriage e.g. that they committed adultery.

These issues can usually be resolved outside of a court by negotiation or using non-confrontational dispute resolution. This also shows why it is often wise to discuss these issues before submitting a divorce petition as it can minimise the chances of your divorce being defended.

For example, while your spouse might be unwilling to admit to adultery, they might be happy to admit ‘unreasonable behaviour’ such as not spending enough time at home or failing to provide emotional support. Therefore, by agreeing to use these reasons as grounds for divorce, rather than adultery, you may be able to have your divorce go ahead without dispute, saving you time, money and a lot of stress.

Non-confrontational dispute resolution for defended divorce

Our family lawyers offer two main types of non-confrontational dispute resolution for divorce:

Mediation for defended divorce – Involving you and your spouse sitting down for a series of meetings with a trained, neutral mediator to work through any points of dispute and agree how they can be resolved. This can be used both for disagreements over the reasons given for your divorce, as well as practical issues such as financial settlements and arrangements for children.

Collaborative law for defended divorce – Involving a series of four-way ‘round the table’ meetings between you, your spouse and your respective lawyers. The goal is to negotiate the practical details of your divorce, such as a financial settlement and arrangements for children. As uncertainty over these issues is a common reason for someone to defend a divorce, resolving these issues can be key to allowing your divorce to move forward.

Why choose Crisp & Co for your divorce without consent?

Crisp & Co’s divorce solicitors have been helping individuals and families to navigate all aspects of divorce and separation under even the most challenging circumstances for more than 20 years. With our particular expertise in non-confrontational family dispute resolution, we can usually find a positive way forward for even highly contentious divorces, helping you to legally end your marriage and move on faster.

We are accredited by the Law Society for Family Law Advanced and our team includes several members of Resolution – a group of family lawyers committed to removing the conflict from family law – and trained collaborative lawyers.

Crisp & Co are independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Get in touch with our divorce solicitors in London & South East England

For help with a defended divorce, please contact our divorce solicitors in London and across the South East now by calling 020 8017 8962 or contacting your local Crisp & Co office.