In England and Wales there is a no-fault divorce regime. This means respondents to a divorce application can’t contest it. This contrasts with countries where divorce is based on the idea of fault. In these jurisdictions, a person seeking divorce can allege that his or her spouse or civil partner has committed adultery, has deserted the marital home or has behaved unreasonably. In such circumstances the respondent has the right to defend the allegations.

That said, respondents to a no-fault divorce application do have the ability to dispute the contents of a divorce application on the following grounds:

  • Nullity – a respondent may bring nullity proceedings by, for example, claiming that the marriage or civil partnership was never consummated or that it was entered into without proper consent.
  • Jurisdiction – it’s possible to argue that the application cannot be brought before an English court because the applicant and/or respondent is not habitually resident in the UK or lacks the required domicile to divorce here. Succeeding in transferring the proceedings to another jurisdiction may have a significant impact on financial proceedings and the child arrangements that are put in place following the divorce.
  • Validity and fraud – if the legal stipulations for a valid marriage were not met, including age and witness requirements or if some kind of fraud induced either party to enter the marriage, then the marriage can be declared invalid

How Do I Dispute A Divorce Application?

If a respondent wishes to dispute a no-fault divorce application, he or she must indicate his or her intention to do so when returning the acknowledgment of service form to the court. A full explanation of the reasons for disputing the application must then be filed at court. This ‘answer’ to the application must be lodged at court within 21 days, beginning with the date by which the acknowledgment of service is required to be filed under the procedural steps.

It’s worth noting that the no-fault system of divorce is designed to reduce areas of conflict and dispute that arise when a relationship breaks down. The grounds for disputing a divorce application that we have outlined are, in practical terms, very limited. In our experience instances where a divorce application is disputed are relatively rare.

 

 

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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

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Sep 2023   Nahid Toubia

I had a zoom consultation with Lauren Moir and she was incredible. Very patient, insightful and reassuring. She also advised me based on my previous conversations with another firm and also clarified various positions I am in. Highly recommend.

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I was very impressed with the friendly, helpful and professional service offered by Brookman Solicitors. The generous advice and knowledge offered during the initial free consultation has enabled us to have a much better understanding of our case and plan a way forward.

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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

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.

Partner

Mark Rennie

Mark is the Group Head of the Horsham Family Law team. He specialises in all areas of matrimonial law, including complex divorce and financial disputes, and is recommended by The Legal 500.

Partner

Nigel Winter

A highly experienced solicitor, Nigel has expertise in collaborative law, divorce, contested litigation, relationship agreements, and children matters. Nigel is recommended by The Legal 500.

Partner

Samantha Jago

Partner at our Guildford office and recommended by The Legal 500, Samantha has specialist expertise in divorce, children matters, complex international cases, and is a trained mediator.

Partner

Amanda Glass

Amanda is a highly experienced family law partner providing expert advice on all aspects of family law, divorce and separation with an emphasis on financial remedy cases.

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.

Senior Associate

Ella Welsby

Known for her sensitivity and discretion combined with significant expertise, Ella advises on all family issues including high-value and multi-jurisdiction divorce and complex financial and children matters.

Senior Associate

Gemma Garrett

Based in Horsham, Gemma is a specialist advising on all areas of family law including divorce and separation (often involving jurisdiction issues), complex financial matters, and children matters.

Senior Solicitor

Susan Hayes

Susan qualified as a solicitor in 1992 and is based at our Brighton office. She is a longstanding member of the Law Society Specialist Children Panel and Family Law Panel. Susan is also a trained Collaborative Lawyer.

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.

Associate Solicitor

Lauren Moir

Lauren is a highly regarded specialist family law solicitor, based at our Guildford office. She advises on divorce, family finances, children matters, domestic abuse, cohabitee issues, and relationship agreements.

Solicitor

Rachael Au

Rachael is a highly capable member of the family team in Brighton. She specialises in family law, advising on divorce, civil partnerships, financial matters, and children issues.

Solicitor

Amber Matheson

Based at the Guildford office, Amber has experience dealing with family matters including divorce, finances, separation after cohabitation, arrangements for children and leave to remove cases.

Solicitor

Amelia Groom

Amelia has experience across a full range of family matters, including divorce, complex disputes regarding finances that range from trusts through to cryptocurrencies, and arrangements for children.

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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