The area of family law is one of the most sensitive legal fields, most commonly covering divorce, separation and the complex issues that surround them. While divorce itself is a technically simple process, it becomes complicated by the implications of shared finances, property and children. These critical, personal issues are compounded by the intense emotional stress of separation and it is paramount that they reach the swiftest, most clear-cut resolution. As such, at Audley Chaucer we approach this in a compassionate, straightforward way.

A Petition for divorce can be made after 12 months of marriage and only on the basis of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

One of the following five criteria must be proved in order to file for a divorce:

  • Adultery of the other spouse
  • Unreasonable behaviour of the other spouse
  • Desertion for 2 years by the other spouse
  • The parties of the marriage have lived apart for at least 2 years (requiring the consent of the other spouse)
  • The parties of the marriage have lived apart for 5 years (consent of the other spouse not required)


As well as assisting in the necessary legal arrangements, we can offer professional advice to help negotiate the range of issues it presents. We will guide you throughout the whole process from filing the Petition, to the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi and, finally, the receipt of the Decree Absolute. Financially, in a divorce there are a number of key areas that must be addressed; Distribution of assets and the apportionment of income, property and pensions are areas in which we excel.

We can advise you about the many different issues that arise – such as what claims can be made against pensions, what steps can be taken regarding the sale and ownership of properties, and what a “clean-break” separation entails.

In the case of children, the arrangements surrounding maintenance may be made by the Government Agencies, and as such lawyers and Courts may not be brought into the process. We can deal with child welfare under The Children Act 1989, which is concerned with residence, contact, parental responsibility, prohibited steps and specific issue orders.

Collaborative law is an alternative approach, where each side, having agreed not to go to Court, sit down with their lawyers and reach solutions face to face. In many cases, agreements may be reached with minimal pain and disruption to those getting divorced and their children. Where agreement cannot be reached, Court proceedings may be required and different lawyers will be appointed to represent each side.

We can advise and help set up pre-nuptial agreements and issues arising as a result of the breakdown of relationships between unmarried couples and same sex partners, now covered by the Civil Partnership Act.