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It is a sad fact of modern life that a lot of marriages break down

Where a marriage has irretrievably broken down, it should be brought to an end with the minimum distress to the couple and any children. In England and Wales, the only ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.  This can be established in a number of different ways, some of which apportion blame for the end of the marriage.

Beverley Pym


It is not possible to end a marriage and to get a divorce without fault being alleged, unless a couple have been separated for at least two years.  If a couple want to get on with sorting out the financial arrangements to achieve certainty, then the only way to achieve this at the present time, is to proceed on the basis of one person’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour.  The reason for a divorce in most cases is irrelevant to the real issues that need to be addressed, first and foremost any children and also the financial consequences of divorce. 

It is never helpful to apportion blame, even if it is for the purpose of proceeding with a divorce Petition.  Not only may this cause unpleasantness for one spouse, but it also may cause them to take a more confrontational or un-cooperative approach to the other issues arising on divorce.  This could cause more lengthy or costly proceedings to resolve property and financial matters or issues regarding the arrangements for any children.

With Legal Aid only being available in extremely limited circumstances, many people have to pay the Court fee on issue of the divorce Petition, which until 17th March 2016, was a sum of £410.00.  The Court fee was suddenly increased by the Government to £550.00, an increase of 34%, without any formal consultation or announcement.  This increase may lead to people being unable to afford the fee, which means that they would remain legally and financially tied to their former spouse, long after the relationship has ended.  This could lead to a number of spouses being trapped in unhappy or violent marriages. 

Divorce is a necessary part of the legal process to bring a marriage to an end.  Therefore, in most cases, couples who want to divorce will have to bear in mind the increased Court fee when considering their options for divorce. It is however always possible for the person beginning the divorce to apply for fee exemption when they send the divorce documents to court. The court will then assess to see if they are entitled to either a full exemption of this fee or a partial reduction. This may be given if the person is on a modest income and  / or has large monthly expenses.

If you are thinking about divorce proceedings please contact us for further information and an initial free meeting to discuss your options and needs at this difficult time.