Thinking about a divorce or separation

Going through a divorce can be stressful, both for the parties to the marriage and the wider family unit.

Our family lawyers are committed to providing you with the necessary information and support to guide you through the divorce process.

When most people get married, they don’t think that it will end in divorce so when the relationship is ending, discussions of divorce can be daunting. Inevitably, the divorce process is unfamiliar. You will have numerous questions about what happens next and how things such as your finances and children should be dealt with. It is important to understand your legal position and seek support from a specialist family lawyer.

A specialist family lawyer can explain to you what a divorce means and your role in the process, either as an applicant, joint applicant or respondent. During a separation, there may also be matters that you haven’t thought about yet; a specialist family lawyer will be able to discuss with you how a divorce may impact other areas of your life such as the family home, income, pensions and children. They will also be able to signpost you to other professional advice that you may need to seek, such as tax, financial planning or estate planning advice.


Our lawyers

With offices in Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, London, Manchester, Norwich and Oxford, the Mills & Reeve family team have extensive experience in dealing with divorce. In fact, Mills & Reeve played a key role in bringing about the new no fault divorce process, which came into effect on 6 April 2022.

The new law was a result of the Supreme Court case of Owens v Owens, where Mrs Owens’ applied for a divorce from her husband, but her husband defended the application. We successfully applied for Resolution, a national organisation of family professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes, to intervene in proceedings and provide information about how the law at the time caused difficulties for individuals like Mrs Owens. Ultimately, the Supreme Court found that Mrs Owens was not entitled to a divorce from her husband, but the decision was a catalyst for major legal change. 

Following the judgment, Resolution spearheaded the campaign for no fault divorce and our very own Nigel Shepherd was at the forefront. Mills & Reeve are very proud to say that as a result of these efforts, no fault divorce became law on 6 April 2022. 

We are passionate about helping our clients through divorce, which can be one of the most difficult and stressful events of their life. We have are skilled solicitors who have experience dealing with divorces which include: 

  • Cross-applications from different jurisdictions
  • Applications involving concerns around a party’s capacity

What you need to know

As of 6 April 2022, the law on divorce changed and the requirement for divorcing couples to give a reason for their application was removed. Under the new law, either party to the marriage (or jointly) can apply for a divorce by declaring that there has been irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. It is no longer possible for the other party to say that this has not happened. This is what is termed ‘no fault divorce’. There are still grounds on which the divorce could be disputed, but these are now limited to challenging the validity of the marriage, jurisdiction, capacity and fraud.

Once an application for divorce is made, there are two key stages. The first is obtaining a conditional order. This stage is important as once a conditional order has been pronounced, any financial settlement reached between you and your partner can be made legally binding by the court. The second stage is obtaining a final order, which legally dissolves the marriage. 

If you and your partner are considering a divorce or an application has already been made, it is important for you to understand:

  • The ground for divorce
  • When the divorce could be challenged
  • The cost of divorce, including the court fee for the application, and your options for dealing with this
  • The timescales for a divorce
  • What each stage of the divorce means and the implication it has on other financial matters
  • The rights that you may give up when the divorce is made final

Frequently Asked Questions


Vlogs from our divorce law solicitors

The law on how you can get divorced in England and Wales changed today, 6 April 2022 and in this vlog, Caitlin Jenkins, the familylawvlogger and her colleague, Nigel Shepherd (known as Mr No Fault Divorce for his pivotal role in bringing about this change in the law) discuss the changes that came in to effect today. They also discuss the background to the law change including the academic research and key caselaw that prompted the change.

Blog: No fault divorce - what is a joint application?

One of the biggest changes that took effect on 6 April was the introduction of joint applications for divorce. If you and your ex decide to separate you will be able to divorce together, as joint applicants...

More blogs from our legal experts...

  • Supporting clients through "faultless" divorces 
    On 6 April 2022 the law surrounding divorce and the dissolution of civil partnerships in England and Wales changed significantly. From this date "no fault divorce" will be available and individuals will no longer need to assign fault to prove the irretrievable breakdown of their marriage...

  • No fault divorce - what's happened to the five facts? 
    Today, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 comes into force and with it brings "no fault" divorce. It marks a major change in divorce law in England and Wales...

  • Owens v Owens - the catalyst for divorce law reform 
    "You have to know the past to understand the present" said Carl Sagan. On the eve of the biggest reform to our divorce laws in 50 years, it seems appropriate to reflect on one of the key moments in the campaign for change...

  • No fault divorce - how did we get here? 
    Ahead of  "no fault" divorce coming into force on 6 April 2022, we will be looking at the history behind the new law, how Mills & Reeve lawyers have formed part of that history and what the new law means for separating couples...

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