Your Divorce Specialists

Brookman Solicitors are expert divorce and family lawyers, situated in London and across the South East. We specialise in the full range of family legal matters including divorce in the UK and internationally, financial issues, property settlements and children’s matters. Whatever your situation, we are here to help you.

With our help, your divorce could be a reasonably straightforward procedure. We are skilled at making the divorce process as smooth as it can be whilst also being able to fight your corner if the need arises.

No-fault divorce in the UK

From its inception divorce has been a procedure associated with blame and fault. In England and Wales this is borne out by The Matrimonial Causes Act, 1973 the statute that regulates divorce. Under the legislation separating couples must establish one of five grounds to divorce – three of which involve blaming the other spouse. As society has evolved, criticism has grown about this need to prove fault to end a marriage – not least because it raises the possibility of additional conflict in what may be an already fractious relationship. Following many years of political lobbying and pressure the first divorces under the no-fault procedure are set to begin in England and Wales on 6 April 2022.  

At Brookman we advise on all aspects of divorce and financial settlements, including no-fault divorce. If this is something that affects you and you wish to discuss your case, contact our no-fault divorce solicitors on 44 (0) 20 7430 8470 or contact us online. We provide a free, initial consultation without any obligation.  

What is the procedure for no-fault divorce?

No fault divorce removes the need for a spouse to select one of the five reasons for the breakdown of their marriage (such as ‘unreasonable behaviour’ on the part of their spouse, or adultery). Instead: 

  • Either or both parties to a marriage or civil partnership may apply to the court for a divorce order. The order dissolves the marriage on the sole ground that it has broken down irretrievably.
  • The application for a divorce order must be accompanied by a statement by the applicant or applicants that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
  • Parties can make a joint application to the court.
  • The court must firstly take the statement to be conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down irretrievably; and secondly it must make a divorce order.
  • Neither party can oppose the application.
  • The divorce order is initially a ‘conditional order’ (previously this was known as a decree nisi).
  • A conditional order can only be made if the applicant or applicants (previously the petitioner(s)) confirm they want the divorce to go ahead.
  • This confirmation cannot be made until a minimum of 20 weeks has passed from the date on which proceedings began. This is to enable the applicant or applicants a meaningful period of reflection on the decision to divorce. 
  • During this 20-week period couples should discuss child arrangements and financial settlements and attempt to reach an agreement.
  • After a minimum period of six weeks the conditional order may be converted into a final order (similar to the decree absolute).

No-fault divorce in practice

In practice the no-fault divorce procedure is geared toward more efficient, less acrimonious divorce cases. In particular the removal of the ability of either side to contest proceedings will reduce the likelihood of expensive, contested court applications cropping up throughout the process. It’s also hoped there will be less of an impact on children and the wider family as divorce becomes a less contentious issue. When the opportunity for bitter disputes over personal matters is reduced, couples can concentrate more productively on reaching a fair financial settlement.  

Why choose our no-fault divorce solicitors

Brookman has a team of divorce specialists and family lawyers who handle all types of divorce including those with substantial or complex assets, property and children issues both in the UK and overseas.  

Our offices cover the South East from London to Surrey to Sussex, but we act for clients across the UK and internationally. 

We’re already well placed to handle your no-fault divorce in the UK: many of the jurisdictions in which we’ve handled cases have had no-fault divorce regimes in place for many years. Australia for example has had a no-fault system since 1975.  

Should I start my divorce now or wait until no-fault divorce comes in?

The question a lot of clients are asking is whether or not they should wait until 6 April 2022 when no-fault divorce comes into force or whether they should just proceed with their divorce petition under current legislation.  

Each case will depend on your own personal circumstances, and we would advise you to get legal advice before deciding how to proceed. There are however a few things to consider: 

  • If you and your spouse or civil partner are clear in your own minds that you wish to divorce and that obtaining the decree will be uncontentious then there is little point in waiting until 6 April. The new rules are geared above all toward reducing acrimony. If none exists and the parties agree the marriage has broken down then the current rules are an effective way to dissolve your marriage. Even if you do have to invoke one of the fault-based reasons to obtain your decree nisi, you could – like many couples in these circumstances – treat this as a formality. The grounds you cite for divorce will have no impact whatsoever on your financial settlement or how your children will be looked after following your divorce.
  • If you want to get divorced sooner rather than later, waiting for no-fault divorce to come in may not be advisable. Under the new rules there is a minimum 20 week period of refle This is calculated from the date the application for a divorce order is made. There is then a further six -week waiting period between the conditional order of divorce and the final order. If your divorce is not going to be contested and the issues around your children and finances are relatively unproblematic you may wish to issue a petition immediately rather than wait until 6 April 2022.
  • Again if timing is key you may wish to get ahead of what some anticipate will be an upsurge in petitions on 6 April 2022, exacerbating the existing delays in the divorce court system.  
  • Even if you decide to wait for no-fault divorce you and your spouse or civil partner could, with the assistance of your legal advisers, use the intervening period to reach an agreement on finances and arrangements for children. Although you won’t be able to formalise any agreement until you obtain your conditional order of divorce, a lot of the legwork can be done ahead of time ensuring that once the rules come into effect, you can obtain your divorce as efficiently as possible.  It’s essential to review any informal agreement reached in this way before it gets judicial approval. That way you can satisfy yourself that assets like property and pensions have retained the values ascribed to them during your negotiations with your spouse or civil partner.
  • If your partner is likely to contest your divorce or behave obstructively if you issue proceedings ahead of April 2022 on a fault basis, it is probably best to wait until the new regime comes into effect. At that point your spouse won’t be able to raise objections to your application.

If you have questions about your relationship, your options regarding divorce, or if your circumstances include complex issues, don’t hesitate to use the form below to send us the details of your situation, or you can arrange a free consultation.

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Divorce Scenarios

The scenarios below do not relate to any individual clients of ours but the facts and the outcomes relate to some similar experiences in our practice.

International Divorce

The Scenario

Mr G is a UK resident. Seven years ago when working in the Emirates he married a US citizen. They married in Cyprus and subsequently lived together for two years before his wife returned to the US. He has lost touch with her and mail to her parents address is returned with a note “she wants nothing to do with you”.

Our Solution

Mr G applied for a divorce in England after the couple had been separated for several years, although the marriage was in Cyprus.

We obtained an Order from the court deeming that it was enough to post the divorce papers to his wife’s parents because even though she would not acknowledge receipt, undoubtedly her parents would pass them on. This was done and we obtained the divorce.

If you have questions, contact us now, we can help you.

Henry Brookman Discusses: Divorce

Co-habitation

The Scenario

Mr R separated from his partner of 10 years with whom he had a five year old son. Their apartment was in her name. This came about because he was working abroad when they began their relationship. He paid half the purchase price into his partner’s account and she completed the purchase paying the other half. Now she had the property up for sale.

Our Solution

We took detailed instructions and put a block on the title. We then located the evidence to prove his claim. He offered to buy out his partner but she then insisted the apartment was worth more than the price she had been offering it for sale.

We issued an application following which the property was professionally valued and Mr R bought the remaining half share. She then refused to let Mr R see their son. We obtained a declaration of parental responsibility and visiting rights for Mr R.

Property Business

The Scenario

Bernard consulted us. His brother Arthur is a property developer who generally has a portfolio of about 5 or 6 properties that are in the course of being renovated and sold on. Bernard often invests his money in specific properties, with Arthur keeping a spreadsheet that shows what share Bernard has in each property. Arthur and his wife have separated and his wife has applied for freezing orders in respect of all the properties. Bernard is anxious that his money will be treated as part of the matrimonial assets being divided between Arthur and his wife.

Our Solution

The critical question is for the court to establish that Bernard's share of the particular properties are his in his own right, so any orders that the court might make between Arthur and his wife will respect Bernard's interests. This is achieved by making an application to intervene in the matrimonial proceedings so that Bernard's interests can be protected. That enables us to represent Bernard rather than him being dependent on his brother simply asserting it- with the risk of being disbelieved.

Separation

The Scenario

Mr M consulted us concerning his wife’s behaviour. She had a long-standing drug problem and would come and go without warning from their home. She had spent large amounts on drugs emptying bank accounts and incurring debt to pay for them. He and their children were very upset.

Our Solution

We advised him that he could seek a sole occupation order which would keep her away from the home. He was anticipating a substantial bonus in the next six months and asked whether excluding her sooner would mean this was not taken into account in any financial settlement.

We advised that a Court would need to include it as an asset but that did not necessarily then mean that it would then be equally divided. The question of what was a fair division of property was a second stage calculation. In view of his wife?s waste of their resources an equal division would not be appropriate.

Civil Partnership

The Scenario

Mr E was looking into entering into a civil partnership with Mr F. Mr E had substantial assets such as a house valued at £1 million, investments valued at £3 million and a pension worth £1 million.

Although Mr E felt that the parties loved one another and that their relationship would endure, Mr E wanted to protect his position in case there was any change after the parties had entered into a civil partnership.

Our Solution

We advised Mr E that the best way to protect the position would be for the parties to enter into a Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement, which could regulate the parties’ finances if the civil partnership came to an end. The Agreement encompassed all aspects such as their income, their capital assets and their pension assets. The entire matter was dealt with amicably within a few weeks. The parties signed the Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement and subsequently entered into a civil partnership.

Henry Brookman Discusses: Common Divorce Myths

Divorce FAQs

Here are a selection of common divorce-related questions, particularly those relating to the new no-fault divorce.  If you have unanswered questions, please contact us using the form above or you can contact us here.

 

Will No-Fault Divorce Affect My Financial Settlement?

The factors the courts take into account when deciding financial matters (division of assets like property, pensions and so on) remain unchanged by no-fault divorce. Both parties must make full disclosure of assets before any decision on division is made. 

It will still be as important as ever to finalise your financial arrangements in a court order, even if you have reached an agreement. If you don’t, then any financial claims stay open. This means you’d be at risk of a financial claim any time in the future, even after the divorce itself has finished. 

Can My Spouse Object To No-Fault Divorce?

As there is no longer an element of blame in the divorce application the request for a divorce can’t be contested. However if negotiations around maintenance, child issues and financial settlements are inconclusive the court will have to intervene and decide matters. This will involve a contested court hearing. If matters aren’t resolved informally between you and your spouse or civil partner, you may wish to consider arbitration or other forms of family mediation. 

Will No-Fault Divorce Be Cheaper?

Not necessarily. Even though you or your spouse won’t have to legally blame the other for the breakdown in your marriage you still have to agree a financial settlement, how your children are to be financially supported and what their living arrangements will be. That said, it’s logical to assume that if the acrimony is removed from the process, couples may find it easier to reach agreements in these matters. This in turn will reduce the time and money spent on legal fees.  

Will A No-Fault Divorce Be Quicker?

No-fault divorce doesn’t mean a ‘quickie’ divorce as some have suggested. You can’t apply for a conditional order until 20 weeks have elapsed from the date you issued your application. There is then a further six-week period before you can turn your conditional divorce order into a final order. And, as always you should settle any differences between you and your estranged spouse in relation to finances and children before a no-fault divorce is finalised.

Does No-Fault Divorce Change The Way Courts Decide Child Arrangements? 

No. The courts continue to place the child’s welfare at the forefront of any decisions about residence and contact. 

How Soon Can I Apply For A No-Fault Divorce?

The relevant law has already been approved by Parliament. The rules themselves are effective from 6 April 2022 – that’s the first day on which you will be able to apply for a conditional divorce order instead of a decree nisi.

Do I need to attend court in person when I get divorced?

In most cases, neither party attends court in person. Basically, the process is administrative.

Will the chosen grounds for divorce affect the likely financial settlement?

No. Some people assume that if they admit to adultery (for example) this will have a bearing the court’s decision or the financial settlement. This is not so. Under normal circumstances, the chosen fact on which your divorce is based has no bearing on its outcome.

Can I divorce my partner without their involvement?

Yes, most divorces do not need the other party’s consent.

If your partner’s whereabouts are known but they are ignoring the divorce paperwork sent to them, it is entirely possible to obtain a divorce even if your spouse is simply refusing to acknowledge your correspondence. We deal with this situation frequently.

Can I divorce on the basis of separation if we are still living together?

It is possible to be separated whilst still living under the same roof. There are often grounds of divorce though – separation is not essential.

Can my self-employed husband pay himself less salary during the divorce to reduce his financial settlement?

There are several ways in which someone’s true income can be evaluated. It should be possible to obtain disclosure of your husband’s past business accounts and then argue to the court that any maintenance for you should be calculated on his real income, not a reduced salary that he chooses to pay himself in the short term.

If our planned divorce is amicable, can we both come and see you for legal advice?

Normally, the same legal firm cannot act on behalf of both husband and wife but in exceptional cases it can happen. It would be best for you to speak to us about it.

Can my partner demand that I move out while we get a divorce?

Probably not. If you jointly own the property you are jointly entitled to live there. In many cases a spouse agrees to move out in order to remain amicable, or they come to an arrangement that allows them to live separately but in the same property.

My partner says he will never agree to sell our home if we divorce. Can he refuse to sell?

If the court decides he has to pay a settlement then your husband can be forced to sell the house by order of the court or transfer his share of the house to you and vacate the property.

Can I gain a share of my husband’s pension on divorce?

It is possible to apply to the court for a ‘pension sharing order’ which sets out how much of your husband’s pension you are entitled to. These orders are in fact very common. They result in a defined amount being set up in a new pension plan for you. Sometimes a lump sum may be paid instead of sharing the pension.

Is there a minimum period of time I must be married before I can divorce?

Yes, in England & Wales you need to have been married for at least a year before you can start divorce proceedings. If you have been married for less than a year and you know you will be seeking a divorce after a year has passed, it is wise to contact us in good time for some (free) initial advice. If anything needs to be done, we can file for a judicial separation in the meantime.

Do I need my marriage certificate to get divorced?

Usually, yes you will need to provide a marriage certificate to start divorce proceedings. If you can’t find your certificate, it is possible to apply for a replacement. Sometimes we have to get a court order to accept the fact that you were married when there just is no record at all.

What is a Clean Break Order?

A Clean Break Order permanently severs any financial connections between you and your spouse. It kills off any possible future claim for maintenance or a lump sum. This might benefit you if your earnings are likely to increase over time, or you might receive an inheritance or any other source of future wealth that your ex-spouse might otherwise claim against.

Can I change my child’s surname after we divorce?

A change of your child’s surname would require written consent from the other parent or a court order.

Are the details of my divorce made public?

Minimal information regarding your divorce is made available to the public. It is possible for the press to publish that your divorce has been pronounced and the fact on which the divorce was based (e.g. unreasonable behaviour) but no further details are published. However, the vast majority of divorces are of no interest to the press and for practical purposes are never disclosed.

Can I pay for your services from my financial settlement?

We do try to be as flexible as we can about payment and in some specific situations we have taken a large share of the payment at the end of the case, but it very much depends upon your circumstances. If your money is tied up until the divorce is finalised there are also other payment options, such as borrowing from family or friends, short term loans, or gaining a legal costs allowance from the other party.

Still have questions?

Contact us, we can help you.

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From my first contact with the firm I was treated courteously and promptly. I was offered a pro bono meeting shortly after making contact. Mr Brookman is clearly a very experienced professional and in our meeting he gave me some well considered and objective advice about my rather complicated situation which spans more than one jurisdiction.

May 2022   Julian Peachey

I had an initial consultation with Henry Brookman regarding prenuptial agreements and found him to be very helpful and knowledgeable.

Mar 2022   Simon Brooks

I had a free telephone consultation yesterday with Gavin Yeung. He could not have been more helpful and reassuring as he calmly and patiently worked through my situation to provide me with clarity and piece of mind at a time it was really needed and emotions are running high.

Mar 2022   'K M'

I spoke with Aziz at Brookman Solicitors on the phone for an initial consultation and he is one of the friendliest lawyers I have met. He is clearly very experienced as he patiently explained me all the concepts and processes which are quite daunting for someone in my situation, and then focused on the actual questions I wanted to ask... I would highly recommend Aziz and Brookman Solicitors.

Feb 2022   'R'

I am grateful for Henry Brookman and his team for support they provided to me during very frustrating time of divorce. They respond promptly to any request. I felt more confident after I started the process with them. Henry listened carefully to me and took quick actions on my case. I highly recommend this team of real professionals even for non-UK citizens.

Feb 2022   Sezim Beksultanova

I had online consultation with the partner Henry Brookman today. I was very happy with the service. I found him to be very insightful, knowledgeable and provided sound advice, as well as being kind and patient. It was a very comfortable discussion and he sent an email detailing our discussion very quickly discussing in our meeting in depth. I am amazed by the service we got just from a free consultation. I would highly recommend these solicitors!

Jan 2022   Shirley Christopher

We spoke at length and at no point felt like he was rushing us and we felt very comfortable. After our discussion we were also quickly sent an email detailing everything we were discussing in our meeting in depth. I am amazed by the service we got just from a free consultation. I would highly recommend these solicitors!

Dec 2021   Tina

I was fortunate to spend an hour running through a few questions with Natasha Slabas. She was quick to grasp the points raised and proposed a sensible way forward. Would recommend

Dec 2021   Nick Powell

I cannot praise the professionalism and courtesy too highly. The advice given in a very complex divorce matter, was clear, concise, enlightening and inspiring.

Nov 2021   Mary Barn

I contacted Henry Brookman because of the complex international aspect of my divorce and I’m very glad I did... Henry took his time explaining all the pro’s and contra’s... I now have a much clearer view over the situation and feel more confident going forward. I’m very grateful for the excellent advice I’ve received and not feeling rushed during the meeting.

Nov 2021   'A B'

Talitha offers sound advice, asks the right questions and advises you with what you need to know not just what you want to hear. I have no hesitation in recommending her services.

Sep 2021   Anu Vidyarthi

Henry took the time to go through all the details of my separation thoroughly. He was very clear on what my options were and what I needed to do to have a seamless agreement with my ex. Thank you for all your help!

Aug 2021   Sandeep Cina

Talitha provided a free consultation and could not have been more helpful. Her guidance was pragmatic and she managed my expectations both on costs and the process. Talitha offered practical advice to find a solution that could avoid going to court.

Aug 2021   Richard Doyle

About The Team

We are a specialist divorce and international divorce family law team, advising clients in the United Kingdom (specifically England and Wales) and throughout the world. We have a very people–orientated approach to working with clients. Henry Brookman has practised law for over 45 years, and our team has a wide range of skills and expertise. We are recommended by the Legal 500 and have been awarded the Law Society’s quality mark, Lexcel.

Partner

Henry Brookman

With over 45 years' experience, Henry Brookman is the senior member of the team. He is described by The Legal 500 as ‘shrewd, savvy, sagacious and highly experienced’.

Partner

Talitha Brookman

Talitha is a Partner in the firm and a very experienced practitioner who has specialised exclusively in family law for over 15 years. Talitha is recommended by The Legal 500.

Partner

Philip Morton

Recommended by The Legal 500, Philip is an expert in all areas of family law, including domestic and international financial disputes, fraud and commercial dispute resolution.

Partner

Natasha Slabas

Expert in all areas of family law, often involving cases that have an international element, including work in relation to financial settlements following divorce.

Partner

Aziz Malik

Aziz is a Partner at the firm and is highly regarded for his expertise on financial matters in divorce and is recommended by the Legal 500.

Senior Associate

Joanna Potbury

Family law specialist based in Brighton advising on divorce, cohabitation agreements, children, post-nuptial agreements, and domestic violence. Joanna is recommended by The Legal 500.

Senior Associate

Kirsty Kelleher

Kirsty is a specialist family law solicitor recommended by The Legal 500. An expert in divorce, financial matters, child-related disputes and contentious probate cases.

Senior Associate

Kevin Danagher

Kevin specialises exclusively in family law, advising on all aspects of relationship breakdown, divorce, same sex marriage, marital agreements, and international family cases.

Associate Solicitor

Jennifer Douglas

Jennifer is a talented solicitor, recommended by The Legal 500 and experienced in all elements of family law, including high net worth financial proceedings, Children Act proceedings.

Associate Solicitor

Gavin Yeung

Recommended by The Legal 500, Gavin has excellent experience in family law including divorce and financial proceedings and international child abduction proceedings.

Senior Associate

Pippa Marshall

Pippa’s experience covers all areas of family law including divorce, financial remedies, same sex relationships, and pre- and post-nuptial agreements and is recommended by The Legal 500.

Chartered Legal Executive

Lorraine Imms

With over 20 years' family law experience, Lorraine can advise on divorce, matrimonial finances, cohabitee disputes, nuptial agreements and private children matters.

Trainee Solicitor

Rachael Au

Rachael is a highly capable member of the family team in Brighton. She started her training contract in September 2019, her first seat being in Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence.

Paralegal

Katie Main Wilson

From the Brighton office, Katie assists the team with matters relating to pre-nuptial agreements, divorce, financial disputes, child access agreements and harassment protection.

Office Manager

Lorna Martin

Lorna is our Office Manager who oversees the operations of the firm including providing accounts support as well as secretarial support to the team.

Accounts Manager

Evdokia Dikova

Eva is an AAT qualified accounts manager and holds full AAT membership (MAAT). She gained her degree in financial accounting from the University of Economics in Bulgaria.

Secretary

Victoria Delatouche

Victoria is a highly experienced Legal Secretary and a long-standing member of the team. She provides secretarial support for the office.

Secretary

Michelle Louison

Michelle provides secretarial support to Henry Brookman. A very experienced family law secretary, Michelle has worked in law for over 12 years.

Front of House Manager

Patricia Antonio

Patricia is an experienced secretary and office administrator, handling the calls that come into the office, greeting clients, and managing office presentation.

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If you have questions, contact us now, we can help you.

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Or call us on +44 (0)20 7430 8470