The overwhelming majority of divorces in the UK are undefended, meaning that the person responding to the divorce petition does not try to stop the divorce from happening. This generally means the divorce can go ahead faster, at lower cost and with much less stress for everyone involved, but it is still strongly recommended that both parties have expert legal advice and support.
Our divorce solicitors are highly experienced in both defended and undefended divorce. We can provide clear, empathetic advice and support to help make your divorce as straightforward and stress free as possible while ensuring your interests and those of your loved ones are protected.
We can guide you through the entire divorce process, from ensuring you choose the right grounds for divorce to minimise the changes of your former partner contesting the application, to negotiating the practical details of your divorce, such as financial settlements and arrangements for children, in a non-confrontational way.
With our expert advice and support, we can help minimise any conflict during your divorce and allow the process to go ahead as smoothly and swiftly as possible.
For advice and support with any aspect of your divorce, please get in touch with our divorce solicitors in London and across the South East now by calling 020 3281 7885 or contact your local Crisp & Co office.
How the undefended divorce procedure works
There are various practical issues to take care of as part of the process of getting divorced. The two main parts of the procedure are the legal process of ending your marriage and sorting out practical issues, such as a financial settlement and arrangements for any children you have together.
Undefended divorce timetable
An undefended divorce will typically take around 3-6 months, although it can be faster or slower depending on the circumstances. Generally the process will go more quickly if you are able to maintain a good relationship and strong communication with your former partner.
The following is the standard undefended divorce procedure and the associated time frames:
Filing for divorce – When you file for divorce, your spouse will have 8 days to respond.
Decree nisi – If your spouse does not defend the divorce, you will then be issued with a decree nisi (as long as a judge considers the grounds for divorce cited in the application to be sufficient). The decree nisi is an official document stating that the court sees no reason you cannot divorce.
Decree absolute – Once your decree nisi has been issued, you will then have to wait a minimum of 43 days and you will then be able to apply for a decree absolute. Once this is granted, your marriage will have officially ended.
Financial settlements and arrangements for children – Sorting out the practical issues associated with ending your relationship, such as how you will divide your finances, where any children you have will live etc. is entirely separate to the process of legally ending your marriage. Resolving these issues can take months or even years depending on how complicated your situation is and how willing you and your former partner are to agree a solution.
Choosing the right grounds for an undefended divorce
There are five grounds you can use for divorce:
- Adultery – Where your spouse has been unfaithful with someone of the opposite sex.
- Unreasonable behaviour – Where your spouse has behaved in a way that mean you no longer believe you can reasonably live with them.
- Desertion – Where your spouse leaves you for at least 2 out of the last 2.5 years without your agreement, without a good reason and with the intention to end your relationship.
- Living apart for more than 2 years – Is your spouse agrees to the divorce.
- Living apart for more than 5 years – Whether your spouse agrees to the divorce or not.
Unreasonable behaviour is the most commonly used grounds for divorce and is ideal for undefended divorce as it means the divorce can go ahead straightaway and there is less chance of your ex-partner disputing the grounds compared to if your used adultery as a reason.
What can be classed as unreasonable behaviour is not strictly defined, but it can include things such as your spouse spending too much time at work or out with friends, refusing to contribute financially or more serious issues such as domestic abuse.
To minimise the chances of your former partner defending the divorce, it can be a good idea to discuss the grounds you intend to use with them. You should also consult with a solicitor to ensure the grounds you cite are likely to be sufficient to be accepted by a judge.
Non-confrontational dispute resolution for undefended divorce
To keep the whole divorce process as fast, inexpensive and amicable as possible, we strongly recommend using non-confrontational dispute resolution to sort out the practical issues around your separation, such as making a financial settlement and arrangements for children.
We are specialists in the two main methods of non-confrontational dispute resolution for divorce – mediation and collaborative law. Both of these options can save you a lot of time, money and conflict compared to going to court.
Mediation for divorce – This involves you and your former partner sitting down for a series of meetings with a trained mediator to agree the details of your divorce. The mediator acts as a neutral third-party to guide the discussion and defuse any potential conflict.
You will normally be required to at least consider mediation before taking your divorce to court. This will involve an initial Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to find out how mediation works and whether it might be suitable for your divorce.
Collaborative law – This involves a four way meeting between you, your former partner and your respective lawyers, who must both be trained in collaborative law. You will then all work together to negotiate the details of your divorce while keeping conflict to a minimum. The key advantage of this approach is that both parties have the benefit of their own trained legal adviser on hand to ensure your interests are protected at all times.
Why choose Crisp & Co for your undefended divorce?
Crisp & Co’s divorce solicitors have been helping individuals and families to deal with all of the issues surrounding divorce and separation for more than 20 years. With our experience and focus on non-confrontational family dispute resolution, we can help keep the conflict out of your divorce, allowing things to move faster, at lower cost and with less stress.
Our team includes several members of Resolution – a group of family lawyers committed to removing the conflict from family law – and trained collaborative lawyers. This expertise means we can help with even the most complicated contentious issues surrounding your divorce, ensuring you get a fair outcome that protects your interests and the wellbeing of your loved ones.