Divorce & Civil Partnership Dissolution

The emotional stress involved with the breakdown of a relationship can be particularly damaging to a family. That’s why at Pickering & Butters; our key aim is to make this difficult time as straightforward as we can by providing practical, sympathetic advice so you can benefit from a clear mind when making important decisions. When you instruct one of our specialist divorce solicitors, we will steer you away from conflict towards resolution with minimal fuss, allowing you to focus on rebuilding a stable future for your family.

Can I legally divorce my partner?

In English law there is only one ground for divorce or civil partnership dissolution, which is that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.  

A court will need to see proof of this, and will accept any one of five facts:

  • A spouse’s adultery

If you are in a heterosexual relationship and your partner sleeps with a member of the opposite sex, or if you’re in a homosexual relationship and your partner sleeps with a member of the same sex outside of marriage, you will be able to rely on this to establish you are entitled to a divorce.

  • Unreasonable behaviour

Unreasonable behaviour is a term used to describe any behaviour your partner demonstrates that you consider means you cannot reasonably be expected to continue living with them.

  • Desertion of two years

If your partner has deserted you without agreement or prior warning, this will be a valid reason for your divorce.

  • Two years’ separation with the consent of both parties

If you have lived apart for two years or more and you both consent to a divorce then this can establish the ground for divorce.

  • Five years’ separation without consent needed

Even if your partner does not consent to the divorce, living apart for 5 years means you can begin divorce proceedings without gaining consent from them.

When deciding which grounds to use you will benefit from the guidance our friendly experts can provide, because there are legal implications for each of them. We will also discuss with you any other repercussions concerned with divorce, such as those of a religious nature. It may be the case, for example, that a deed of separation would better suit you rather than a divorce and what the cost consequences are depending on which fact you rely on

Will I have to go to court for my divorce?

No, not necessarily. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to save yourself the time and costs involved with Court. If you are able to communicate and cooperate with your ex-partner we will actively encourage you to resolve issues outside of court through a method of Alternative Dispute Resolution.

However, if your dispute has already escalated beyond the point of cooperation and this is not possible, court may be necessary. While we will do all in our power to prevent this, our priority is to achieve an outcome that is fair and reflective of your needs. Should you need representation to secure this, you can rest assured that we have the skill and experience necessary to protect your interests through the divorce process.

When you instruct one of our dedicated divorce solicitors, we will utilise our first appointment to gain an understanding of your unique situation and determine the best possible approach in achieving resolution.

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is an umbrella term used to describe the various approaches used to help settle disputes outside of court, therefore saving a great deal of time as well as costs for those involved.


One form of ADR is Mediation, which involves both parties coming together with a trained, impartial mediator to work towards an agreement. During mediation, both you and your ex-partner will be able to voice your concerns and express your opinions, working together to understand each others’ requirements in order to reach a suitable conclusion. This method can be particularly beneficial for couples who have children, as it allows both parents to work together productively to find a solution in a calm environment, reducing the tension in the future.

Collaborative Law

Alternatively, you may opt for the collaborative approach. Collaborative Law is another form of ADR which involves negotiation between both parties along with their respective solicitors. Before the process begins, an agreement is signed by all parties to state that they will be completely committed to doing everything possible to resolve issues outside of court. Next, all committed parties will sit down to discuss the issues at hand in a calm and productive manor. Our expertly trained divorce solicitors have a proven track record for assisting separating couples to reach an agreement through collaborative law. This approach can save considerable costs avoiding ongoing correspondence, instead resolving all issues around the table whilst benefiting from support and legal advice all the way. It has an extremely high success rate and usually keeps matters much more amicable than any other approach.

Find out more information on Alternative Dispute Resolution here.

How long will the divorce process take?

The length of time taken in the divorce process varies greatly and depends on certain key factors; notably your financial situation, both parties’ ability to cooperate and whether arrangements for children must be made. Alternative Dispute Resolution will certainly help matters advance faster, as court hearings tend to delay the process. Irrespective of the approach you use, our divorce solicitors will always provide you with a rough estimation of time-scales at the earliest opportunity so you know what to expect.

Where possible, we will attempt to reduce the time involved in your divorce to allow you to move forward; however, our goal will always be to secure the right outcome for you - no matter how long it takes.

How can Pickering & Butters divorce solicitors help me?

If you have made the decision that your relationship has irretrievably broken down, our dedicated team of divorce solicitors are here to listen and to talk through your next steps, helping you choose the most appropriate way forward according to your individual circumstances. We know how emotionally challenging this time can be, which is why we aim to be available as and when you need us: for legal advice, support and practical assistance through the process.

Whether you’ve been married for five years or twenty-five, are married or in a civil partnership, the breakdown of a relationship is rarely easy. However, by gaining specialist advice at an early stage, you can ensure a smooth process that doesn’t drag on, allowing you to move forward and focus on the future.

For tailored legal advice on divorce & civil partnership dissolution, please get in touch with our Staffordshire solicitors in Stafford and Rugeley