Legal support through your divorce

Going through a divorce is often a stressful and emotional time for all those involved.  Our specialist team of Divorce Solicitors are on hand to guide you through the process, ensuring that each step is managed smoothly.

Grounds for Divorce

You do not have an automatic right to a divorce in the UK.  It must be based on one of the following five facts:

  1. One party has committed adultery;
  2. One party has behaved unreasonably such that the parties cannot be expected to continue living together;
  3. One party has deserted the other for a period of 2 or more years;
  4. The parties have been separated for a period of 2 or more years AND both consent to the divorce;
  5. The parties have been separated for a period of 5 or more years.

If any of the above apply, you are entitled to petition for Divorce. Your divorce solicitor should guide you through the process as described below.

The Divorce Process

We have produced a Divorce flowchart to show the process:

Divorce Flow Chart

Once you have petitioned for a divorce citing one of the reasons listed above, a document from your spouse will also need to be filed with the court. If the court agrees with the documentation they will grant a Decree Nisi, a document which states that they see no reason why you cannot divorce. 6 weeks and a day later you can apply for the final order, a Decree Absolute. The Court will check that the time limits have been met and that there are no other reasons not to grant the divorce. The court will then send you both a Decree Absolute. Once you get the Decree Absolute, you are divorced, no longer married and free to marry again, if you would like to.

Generally, the Divorce process is dealt with by way of agreement between the parties. In this instance, the Divorce is simply a paperwork exercise and will rarely require either party to attend Court.  There are regrettably some instances where the Divorce is contested – our team of divorce solicitors have the expertise to advise you should this rare occasion arises.

The financial aspects of Divorce are dealt with separately from the Divorce and information can be found on our Financial Remedy page.

Separated couple discussing their rights to property

How can we help you?

There are a number of ways Hepburn Delaney Solicitors can support you through your Divorce.  If your Divorce is going to be agreed between you and your spouse, we offer a fixed fee to undertake all the work from drafting the Petition, right through to obtaining the final order, Decree Absolute.   The only additional cost will be the Court fee and any additional work associated with financial remedy.

Alternatively, if you wish to undertake this work yourself, we are happy to advise you on an ad hoc basis at our competitive hourly rates. The Divorce Petition is the main document that must be completed and sent to the Court.  If you would like to prepare this form yourself it can be found here:

If the Divorce is to be defended, we will advise you of the likely fees at the outset and help you manage your legal costs to your best advantage.

If you decide to proceed with a Divorce we suggest that in the first instance you attend our initial fixed fee appointment when we can discuss your options in full.

Get in touch with our Hemel Hempstead based divorce solicitors to ensure that you understand your legal position, the process and what your entitlements are.

 Call us on 01442 218090 or send an email to


Should I apply for the decree absolute before financial settlement?

It is advisable to have the financial settlement in place and agreed before you apply for a decree absolute to ensure your entitlement to certain assets are not at risk. Therefore in order to protect yourself it is advisable not to apply for the decree absolute until the financial settlement has been agreed.

What is a decree nisi?

A decree nisi is a document that says that the court has approved the application for a divorce. The Decree Nisi is the first stage of two parts to obtaining a divorce.

What is a decree absolute?

A decree absolute is the legal document that ends your marriage and concludes the divorce process.

What is a consent order?

A consent order is legal document drafted by a solicitor that explains to the court how you intend to split assets such as money, property, pensions and savings. If you have a situation where both parties have agreed the financial settlement the consent order will be sent to a judge for approval as part of the divorce proceedings but without the need for a court hearing.

What is the divorce process?

1. ISSUE THE PETITION – the Petition will be prepared by us on your instruction. It will then be sent to the Court.
3. THE RESPONDENT FILES AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SERVICE (If they do not then the Petition will need to be personally served on the respondent) and this is sent to the Petitioner
4. THE PETITIONER FILES A STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE DIVORCE AND APPLICATION FOR DECREE NISI We will prepare this documentation for you, you will check and sign the documentation before it is sent to the court
5. A DISTRICT JUDGE WILL CONSIDER THE PETITION If the grounds are accepted, then the petition will be listed for the pronouncement of a Decree Nisi
6. THE DECREE NISI IS PRONOUNCED BY THE COURT; you will not need to attend court for this
7. AFTER SIX WEEKS AND ONE DAY THE PETITIONER CAN APPLY FOR A DECREE ABSOLUTE (If they do not do so within four and a half months then the Respondent can apply)
8. THE DECREE ABSOLUTE IS THEN ISSUED, at this point the marriage is legally dissolved. You are now free to remarry. However, it is important to know that if you are the Respondent and you remarry it may impact any financial claim against your former spouse and you should seek legal advice.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

Obtaining a divorce in the UK can take as little as 6 months if the divorce is uncontested, you have finalised as much as you can beforehand with your spouse and there are no problems with sending documents to each other. Then it is a case of filling out paperwork.

However, it is important to note that whilst bringing the marriage to an end is relatively quick, the process often takes longer, particularly if agreement can’t be reached on financial matters and/or children arrangements. On average ending a marriage and agreeing a financial settlement takes around 12 months.

Why are the financial aspects for divorce separate from the divorce process?

Divorce is the act of terminating the marriage by the Court and is not concerned with the Financial side of the marriage.

Can I get legal aid for divorce?

Legal Aid is no longer available to pay the legal costs of divorce or dissolution unless there are specific circumstances. We do not provide Divorce under Legal Aid.

There are several ways Hepburn Delaney Solicitors can support you through your divorce. If your divorce is going to be agreed between you and your spouse, we offer a fixed fee to undertake all the work from drafting the Petition, right through to obtaining the final order, Decree Absolute. The only additional cost will be the Court fee and any additional work associated with financial remedy.

Alternatively, we can offer ad-hoc advice at our competitive hourly rates.

My wife / husband has instructed Hepburn Delaney, can I also instruct you?

This is not possible as there would be a conflict of interest.

Do you offer Legal Aid for Mediation?

We do not provide Mediation under Legal Aid. We do however offer fixed fees for Mediation appointments.

Working with a family business

Hepburn Delaney was established in 2013 by Jane Hepburn and Rebecca Delaney who had worked together for several years before deciding to set up a specialist family law practice. Our intention has always been to provide a niche, bespoke service to clients seeking advice on a broad range of family matters and we remain committed to this approach.


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