Keith Flower & Co Ltd Solicitors (Est. 1976)

62 Pinner Green, Pinner HA5 2AB

Tel: 0208 868 1277 Fax: 0208 868 1356

DX: 35610 Pinner

Divorces Matrimonial and Family Matters

Although the prospect of a divorce can be daunting, the process need not be difficult with the right professional advice. Keith Flower & Co

can guide you through the process, steer you clear of the legal pitfalls and offer sensitive and independent advice.

Choosing a solicitor

Because a divorce can raise sensitive and personal issues, it is important to choose a solicitor who makes you feel comfortable, you find approachable and whose advice you understand. The team at Keith Flower & Co pride themselves in their ability to put clients at their ease and to offer clear and practical advice throughout the divorce process.

When you instruct Keith Flower & Co in relation to your divorce we will:

We will send you copies of any significant letters we receive relating to your divorce together with our own comments and advice. We will also give you regular updates on the progress of your case and details of any costs involved.

If you are at risk from domestic abuse at any stage, we will make it a priority to discuss all possible ways of keeping you and your children safe.

What Keith Flower & Co will need to know:-

To get a thorough understanding of your circumstances, we will ask you for a variety of details and documents. These could include:

These details and documents will help us to decide what grounds there might be for a divorce and what other options might be available to you. They will also help us to estimate what the time-scales, costs and results of your case might be.

Grounds for divorce

You will only be granted a divorce if you can demonstrate that your marriage has suffered an 'irretrievable breakdown'. To do this you must show that your marriage is beyond repair because:

Keith Flower & Co will be able to give you more details of each of these sets of circumstances.

If a divorce decree is against your religion, we can give you advice about other forms of separation.

The divorce process

The legal formality of getting a divorce is a relatively straightforward process. What is generally much less straightforward is sorting out the practical issues associated with a divorce, such as where each person will live, who gets what, and arrangements for any children. Before agreeing matters with your husband or wife, it is wise to take advice from Keith Flower & Co about your rights and the options available to you.

The legal terms used in divorce

In court and in legal documents, the person applying for the divorce is known as 'the petitioner', and the person they are divorcing is 'the respondent'.

Initial letter to the respondent

If you are applying for the divorce, your solicitor will usually start the process by writing a letter to your husband or wife to tell them that you are planning to start divorce action. This letter will also recommend that your husband or wife gets independent legal advice if they have not done so already.


Mediation is often a better way to resolve family disputes than going to court. In any event, the divorce court will expect you to have attended a “mediation information and assessment meeting” if you are divorcing or ending a civil partnership and applying to the court for an order about:

If you have not been to a mediation meeting, the court will ask you to do so before it deals with your case. After the assessment meeting and if you and the mediator feels that mediation can help you reach an agreement, you can start the mediation sessions.  The mediation involves you and your family members explaining your concerns and needs to each other. The mediator provides a safe and neutral sitting for you to talk and the mediator will hear both sides of the argument and will not take sides.

If after the mediation process has been completed, you have reached an agreement with your husband, wife or civil partner, the divorce court can then be asked to make the agreement binding in the form of a “Consent Order”. Keith Flower & Company can advise you in more detail as to the mediation process and can also refer you to independent mediators.

Divorce petition

Your solicitor will then send the divorce petition to the court. The petition sets out whether you will be asking your husband or wife to pay for the costs of the divorce or to provide some other sort of financial support for you or your children. The court will send a copy of the petition to your husband or wife for their solicitor to reply.

Once your husband or wife or their solicitor has replied to the petition, you will need to confirm your intention to go ahead with the divorce application by making a sworn statement or 'affidavit'. Your application is then lodged with the court. If your husband or wife does not reply or cannot be found, your solicitor will tell you the methods for overcoming this.

Statement of arrangements for children

If you have children under the age of 16 (or over 16 and in full-time education), you will need to fill in a form called a 'statement of arrangements for children'. This asks for details about your children such as:

When the court comes to consider the divorce papers, they will take this information into account to make sure that the children are properly provided for.

Decree nisi

Once the court is satisfied that you should have a divorce, it sets a date and time for the judge to pronounce the 'decree nisi'. You do not need to go to court for this. It is simply a statement from the court that the divorce can go ahead and the divorce papers are approved. You are not actually divorced at this stage.

If at this point you and your husband or wife have not agreed who should pay the legal costs of the divorce, the judge pronouncing the decree nisi will make the decision for you.

Decree absolute

Six weeks after the decree nisi, the person applying for the divorce can have the divorce made 'absolute'. This legally dissolves the marriage. However, you are usually better to wait until financial matters ('ancillary relief') have been settled before finalising your divorce in this way.


Disagreements generally relate to:

Solicitors have a professional duty to settle these out of court if at all possible. It is usually in the interests of both you and your husband or wife to co-operate with this aim. Your solicitor will explain to you the alternatives to court action, such as mediation.

If you have disagreements about issues related to the divorce, such as finances and access to children, you should attend a meeting to find out if you are suitable to go through mediation before you apply for a court order. Mediation is where you and your husband or wife work with someone who is trained to help people sort out disagreements between themselves. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on this, and help you to arrange the meeting.

Providing information

It is particularly important for you to provide your solicitor with full and accurate information about your financial circumstances.

A common problem and source of disagreements is where the husband or wife fails to give details of all their assets. This slows everything down and, if the matter cannot be settled out of court, that person may have to pay court costs.

Expert witnesses

If you and your husband or wife cannot agree over the value of property or assets, your solicitor may suggest using an expert witness to provide an independent valuation. In financial matters, this is often a single witness approved by both partners and the court.

Disagreements settled by the court

If you and your husband or wife cannot solve a disagreement out of court, you can apply for the court to settle the matter. The court will do all it can to encourage you to negotiate an agreement between you, but failing this the judge will make a decision. Usually the judge will issue a 'court order' to make their decision official.

Recording your agreement

However you go about reaching an agreement with your husband or wife on the terms of a divorce, your solicitor can give you advice on the best way to record what you have agreed. If divorce action is already under way, they will usually advise you to opt for a court order which will set out the terms of the agreement clearly and in a way that is legally enforceable. Or, if you have not yet started action for divorce, you should consider making a 'separation agreement'.


In all matters relating to children, the children's welfare comes before anything else. Your solicitor will:

There to help

Whatever your circumstances, a family law solicitor has the knowledge and experience to represent your interests and those of your children.


Charges can vary between solicitors and will depend on the difficulty of the case. Before you decide who to appoint, check with a few local solicitors to find out how much they charge.

Price is not the only issue, however, particularly for a sensitive divorce case. It is more important to find a solicitor who is approachable and sympathetic, and whose advice you understand.

Financial help

If you have a low income or receive State benefits, you may be able to get help towards your legal costs. Your solicitor will know if you qualify and will explain your options to you.