Divorce Lawyers London
London Divorce Solicitors
If you are contemplating a divorce you need to know that you have the very best divorce solicitors in London on your side. Osbornes Law are recognised as leading divorce lawyers, specialising in HNW divorce cases. Read on for more information on how we can help you and our expert lawyers.
Mark Freedman Partner
“Osbornes is firmly established as one of the top tier family departments in London. It has a range of clients and cases, many of which are notable because of their complexity. The team increasingly attracts clients who are very wealthy, or in the public eye.”
“They are not only effective, knowledgeable and professional, but also pleasant to deal with as people.“
Expert divorce lawyers in London
Osbornes Law is recognised as having one of the top teams of divorce solicitors in London as well as being one of the largest teams. With over 45 years of experience, we have particular expertise in high-profile and high-net-worth divorces and achieving financial settlements, as well as complex family disputes involving pensions, properties, overseas assets and trusts.
We act for high-net-worth clients including celebrities, entrepreneurs, and families with inherited wealth. Many of our clients have an international dimension to their family life and we are used to working across jurisdictions, particularly across Europe and the Middle East.
What are you seeking from your divorce?
Each family is unique and at your initial consultation, we will discuss your circumstances, and identify what is most important to you and your desired outcome.
The breadth of experience in our team means that we offer the full range of options to obtain your divorce settlement, including:
- Collaborative law
- Private FDR
- Partner-led negotiations
- Experience in the Central Family Court, County Court, High Court and Supreme Court
Whatever forum you choose, you can rest assured that we will negotiate strenuously on your behalf. If the divorce does proceed to court, our highly skilled advocates will represent you robustly and we have a track record of excellent results for our clients.
What is divorce?
Divorce is the process of the legal dissolution (ending) of a marriage.
The divorce itself does not put an end to the financial relationship between you and your partner. You must reach a financial settlement, which is a legally binding decision on how wealth and assets will be divided now that the marriage has ended.
Where children are involved, arrangements will need to be made including where and whom they live with, contact and financial support. Children issues are also dealt with separately from the divorce.
Can I get a divorce?
You are eligible to get a divorce in England and Wales if:
- You have been married for over a year
- Your marriage has permanently broken down
- Your marriage is recognised by the UK courts
What is the difference between divorce and separation?
Many people choose legal separation as an alternative to divorce. The main difference is that with a separation, you remain legally married. This means that you cannot remarry if you are separated. Other differences include:
- In England and Wales, you are required to wait a year before you can divorce. That rule doesn’t apply to a judicial separation
- The Court doesn’t have the power to split your pension under a separation.
Similarities between divorce and separation include:
- You can live apart
- The Court has the power to divide your financial assets
- You need to make a new will and name your spouse specifically if you want them to remain a beneficiary
I've heard that I can now get a no-fault divorce! What does this mean?
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 removed the requirement for fault or blame from the divorce process.
The petition only has to state that there has been an irretrievable breakdown – no proof is required. As long as both parties agree to get divorced, the judge will grant the application without considering the reasons.
How do I get divorced?
- Check that you are eligible to get a divorce
- Decide if you want to make a joint application or on your own
- Apply online or by post (there’s a £593 fee to apply for a divorce)
- The Respondent has 14 days to complete and return the Acknowledgement of Service (AOS) form to the court.
- Wait for a mandatory 20-week reflection period
- Apply for a conditional order
- The court issues a Certificate of Entitlement, confirming the date your Conditional Order
- Wait six weeks and one day before applying for a Final Order
- Apply for the Final Order
- Final Order granted by the Court
What is a divorce application?
A divorce application is the document (Form D8) used to start the divorce process and apply for a divorce or to dissolve a civil partnership.
Can my spouse refuse to accept the divorce application?
In short, no. The new no-fault divorce means that there are limited grounds to dispute the application. The only course of dispute is with regards to the validity of the marriage.
What is a conditional order?
A conditional order is a legal document that says that the court does not see any reason why you cannot divorce or dissolve a civil partnership.
Applying for a conditional order is the first stage of obtaining a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. Once you have obtained the conditional order, you can apply for the final order.
What is a final order?
The final order is the document that ends a divorce or civil partnership. It means the parties are free to enter into another marriage or civil partnership.
To apply for the final order you just need to complete and sign the relevant form and send it to the court office after the six-week period of reflection.
The final order will be read out in court, but neither party is usually required to attend the hearing.
How long does a divorce take?
Because of the 20-week cooling-off period, a no-fault divorce will take a minimum of six months. This is roughly the same amount of time, or potentially longer, than the old system.
On average in England and Wales, the divorce process takes between six-eight months. This takes into account the need to sort out issues with money, property and children.
What are grounds for divorce?
As of April 2022, the new no-fault divorce law will remove the requirement for fault or blame from the divorce process and instead it allows one party (or the couple jointly), to make a statement of irretrievable breakdown. No evidence for this will be required beyond the statement. Hence the term ‘no-fault divorce’.
Under previous rules to obtain a divorce you needed to demonstrate to the court that the marriage had broken down irretrievably. This needed to be for one of the following ‘facts’:
- That your spouse has committed adultery
- That your spouse has acted in such a way that it is unreasonable for you to be expected to continue living with them
- That your spouse has deserted you for two years
- That you and your spouse have lived apart for two years and your spouse consents to the divorce
- That you and your spouse have lived apart for five years, whether or not your spouse consents to the divorce
How do I start a divorce petition?
The first thing to do is to contact us. We’ll explain the divorce process and be able to advise on all the decisions that need to be made, as well as how long things are likely to take.
Petitioning for divorce is the first step in the process. This is where you apply to the court to file for divorce. Exactly where and how you do this may depend on where you are living, and we will be able to advise on the best options. You’ll include your grounds for divorce, supported by one of the five ‘facts’ set out in the previous question.
You can complete the divorce petition form online (or we can do this for you). In this, you’ll include details of the date of the marriage, the address where you last lived together as a couple, the present addresses and occupations of both parties, the names and birth dates of any children and details of any previous court proceedings relating to the marriage or property.
You’ll also include a request for the marriage to be dissolved and if you wish the court to decide matters concerning children, money and property.
How do I reply to a divorce petition?
We understand that being served with divorce papers can come as a shock. If this happens the first thing to do is to contact us. We’ll explain the divorce process and be able to advise on all the decisions that need to be made, as well as how long things are likely to take.
If your spouse has filed for divorce, you will need to decide how you want to respond. You can agree with the divorce, ask for amendments, defend the petition (if you don’t agree with it) or file for your own divorce.
Not responding will not stop the divorce from progressing.
I’ve just been served with divorce papers, what do I do?
If you have not yet taken legal advice, it is important to do so quickly to best protect your interests, as there are time limits involved.
Once we have reviewed the papers that have been served upon you, we will explain the divorce process and provide you with tailored advice on your options and potential costs.
Not responding or ignoring the papers will not stop the divorce from progressing, but it could impact on the costs a court may order you to pay.
What are my rights in a divorce?
You have some basic rights enshrined in law regarding divorce. You will be legally entitled to a divorce provided you have been married for at least one year, meet the jurisdiction requirements and can prove one of the five facts outlined above. It is important to consider carefully which of the five facts to proceed with, especially if you think your spouse may not consent to the divorce. We can advise you on your specific circumstances and how best to proceed. Occasionally we may even recommend using more than one of the five facts.
If there are children of the family then The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced the presumption that, unless the contrary is shown, the continued involvement of a parent in a child’s life will be beneficial to that child. We can guide and represent you in order that the best arrangement possible can be put in place to ensure the ongoing welfare of your children are met.
With regards to a financial settlement on divorce, the court seeks to be fair, which can often mean a 50/50 split of the matrimonial assets, unless needs mean one party has a claim for more.
Once we are fully aware of the extent of your matrimonial assets, we will provide you with detailed advice on what entitlements you will have. This will enable you to confidently move forward in either agreeing a settlement with your former spouse, or in issuing court proceedings to secure your interests.
Do you offer a fixed-fee divorce?
If your divorce is uncomplicated and uncontested, is not international, does not involve children or financial issues then we offer a fixed fee divorce, with costs starting at £999 inclusive of VAT. This is dependent on your spouse being available. Any additional disbursements such as obtaining a translation of your marriage certificate are not included in the fixed fee.
In addition to this fee, you will be responsible for the court fee which is currently £593.
In cases where there are financial settlements or child arrangements to resolve, fees will vary depending on the complexity of the issues and if additional court proceedings are required.
We are committed to being clear at the outset with clients as to what they will pay.
Is the divorce process different for a same sex marriage or civil partnership?
Ending a same sex marriage or civil partnership involves very similar steps and rights as ending a heterosexual marriage. The main difference is that one of the five ‘facts’ discussed above is not available, namely adultery. All other ‘facts’ can be used and an intimate physical relationship with another person can be cited in a behaviour petition.
Is there an alternative to divorce?
Yes. Some clients are not keen to proceed with a divorce for various reasons, from it not being the right time to deeply held religious beliefs. Whatever the reason we can help find you an alternative option to best suit your requirement, for example:
- An annulment may be possible, depending on the circumstances, but these are rare and it is necessary to prove your marriage is either void or voidable;
- A judicial separation could provide you with similar legal remedies as a divorce, but it does not dissolve the marriage; or
- A separation agreement will deal primarily with the division of marital finances and can also enable you to proceed with a straightforward divorce in the future, knowing the financial side has already been settled.
- Mediation is a process where the mediator helps the parties identify the issues in dispute, explore how they might be resolved and, crucially, help them arrive at a mutual agreement.
More Divorce FAQs
Specialists in negotiating high-net-worth divorce settlements
Whatever the extent of your wealth, you need a divorce lawyer with the appropriate financial acumen to protect your interests.
Our divorce lawyers frequently negotiate multi-million-pound divorce settlements, involving business assets, onshore and off-shore investments in complex financial structures, property portfolios and pensions schemes. We are experienced in tracking down ‘missing’ assets, and obtaining valuations for shares, property, and trusts. We work closely with other professionals, such as forensic accountants, tax, and pensions advisers to ensure you have the best evidence and valuations available to support negotiations.
International families and divorce
You can get divorced in England provided you have been married for at least one year, your marriage has irretrievably broken down (see below) and you meet the jurisdiction requirements.
London has a reputation as the ‘international divorce capital’ and if you and your spouse do not reside in the UK or are not both domiciled here, then you may wonder whether you are able to commence your divorce here. We have a great deal of expertise in international divorces and will be able to advise you once we know your circumstances.
Where there might be a choice of jurisdiction, it is important to speak to us and evaluate your options as soon as possible.
Children after divorce
A key concern during divorce will be decisions about children, including arrangements for children to see both their parents and extended family members, and how their welfare needs will be met financially as well as key decisions over education or healthcare as they grow up. Depending on the age of your children, significant weight may also be given to their wishes and feelings.
The welfare of your children will always be the paramount concern, especially if there is an international dimension. We will represent your interests and advise you on how the court will view proposed arrangements.
Andrew secured me the best financial settlement for my claim. He is a credit to Osbornes Solicitors.
"Lisa Pepper was recommended to me as non-nonsense and able to help me with a difficult and confrontational divorce. She more than lived up to that – she was practical, collected and always available with a clear opinion and suggestions of how to move forwards. She also was open and helpful about costs and how to mitigate them"
"Mark Freedman is a very capable lawyer, renowned for not being a pushover and pushing his clients’ cases as much as he can, but will always talk sensibly about settlement. He is among the best – tenacious, good judgment and tactically aware."
"Mark Freedman is a dynamic and highly experienced family lawyer who fights extremely hard for his clients and is always in their corner, thus ensuring their loyalty and confidence. In a trial you would always want him on your side."
"She has impressed me as someone who fights my corner but also understands the importance of resolving issues without unnecessary escalation. She is calm and reassuring."
"Her mediation practice is exceptional; she is also a great solicitor and has a breadth of skill which is really useful."
"He is really experienced and wise. He has a lovely manner about him and clients feel safe with him."
"Jo Wescott is top notch and widely recognised as a rising star throughout the profession. She brings a winning combination of great judgement, an immense work ethic, and a relaxed and charming way with opponents and clients alike. Someone you want on your side”
"Osbornes is pre-eminent for family law in North London. Mark Freedman is a real rainmaker. He is an excellent lawyer and has a top-notch practice"
Mark Freedman is intelligent and personable and has a good selection of high-net work cases.
"Exceptional value for money. Highly competent and reasonably priced. Mark Freedman: one of the best in the field."
"Client-focused. Ready to fight the clients’ corner, but also ready where possible to steer client from unnecessary dispute. Mark Freedman – very experienced, with good instinct for the eventual result. Clients love him and he thinks ahead and directs the client to the best result for the client."
Mark Freedman is a serious player. A fearless family law litigator, who protects his clients’ interests passionately.
Breadth of knowledge and willingness to go the extra mile is what makes it stand out. Mark Freedman – devoted to his clients
Mark Freedman frequently takes on high-value financial and children proceedings that involve complex tax, trust and accounting issues. Sources praise the "tenacity and common sense" he brings to challenging disputes.
"Mark is very experienced, competent, good with clients and takes a sensible approach to cases. He knows exactly what he's doing."
"An exceptional outfit. They take on difficult cases, fight hard and win."
"The team frequently deals with cross-border estates for high–net-worth individuals."
"Mark Freedman is a real heavyweight litigator who has dealt with some very significant cases."
"Mark Freedman boxes clever, keeps his powder dry and when it comes to the end game he negotiates a really good deal."
"Mark Freedman has a specific focus on high-net-worth divorces and finance cases where there are overseas assets and trusts."
"Lisa Pepper somehow manages to get parties to settle on matters where there isn’t much hope to start out with."
"Well-regarded family practice assisting clients with substantial matrimonial disputes and sensitive children proceedings."
"Mark Freedman draws acclaim for his work in high net worth divorce cases, including those involving company structures, family trusts and overseas assets."
"He never gives up. He fights for you to the end and has boundless energy."
Mark Freedman advises high-net-worth clients and knows his stuff.
Highly regarded for his experience as a litigation and mediation expertise, Mark Freedman is tenacious and determined. Clients really feel that he is fighting their corner.
Andrew handled a very complex, 3 year legal battle for me, with a tremendous amount of patience and professionalism. He is very approachable, always kept me up to date, by phone and e-mail, and responded very quickly to my queries with excellent advice, sound strategic thinking and strong letters to put the other side under pressure. With top contacts for barristers, joint experts and mediation.
[The Family Law department] handles significant matrimonial finance cases and complex nuptial agreements. Respected for its expertise in cross-border children law matters.
Mark Freedman represents high net worth clients in complex financial disputes. Sources say that "he's a determined negotiator who'll always do the very best for his clients.
"Mark Freedman receives a lot of instructions from clients based abroad, often relating to complex divorce proceedings. Sources say: “His main strengths are his enthusiastic passion for the job in hand and his total dedication to his clients.”
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