We understand the struggle of divorce and separation. That's why you can count on our divorce solicitors in Bristol, Clevedon & Portishead to work with you for the best possible result.
Divorce is one of the most emotionally stressful experiences someone could ever go through. Luckily, you don’t need to face this all alone. Our divorce lawyers in Clifton (Bristol), Clevedon and Portishead will guide and help you through your rights and options.
Harbour Family Law are specialist family and divorce solicitors. We understand that every divorce comes with its own unique circumstances and requirements. Whether your separation is amicable or otherwise, involves children or comes with financial, pension or property disputes, our team of solicitors have the expertise to guide you through this challenging time in a professional manner which is sensitive to your needs. Our aim is to promote a fair, dignified outcome which protects the ongoing family relationships involved in the case as far as possible. Where an informal “kitchen table” agreement exists between parties, we are able to create legally binding documents to formalise the contract. Where mediation, negotiation or even court proceedings are required to reach an agreement, we can give expert advice and assistance every step of the way, working with you and trusted third party specialists where necessary to achieve the best possible result.
Specialist Experts in Divorce Law
Our divorce solicitors in Bristol have a combined experience of over 90 years working in areas of family law, including an array of relationship breakdown and divorce cases. We are an authorised, accredited practice, recognised by the Law Society and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Katy Zikking founded Harbour Family Law in 2014 to provide a specialist service to family law clients, centred around a strong belief in facilitating amicable agreements wherever possible. This is done using a non-confrontational approach where clients feel supported and informed throughout the process. Parties are encouraged to come to a workable solution which benefits the entire family.
Our solicitors are all members of Resolution – a community of justice professionals dedicated to following a low-conflict code of conduct in family law cases- and Harbour Family Law Directors include both the current and former chair of the Bristol Resolution Committee. Our expert legal team also includes accredited specialists in Collaborative practice and a qualified psychologist, who has been published in the Family Law Journal.
Divorce Advice in Bristol, Clevedon & Portishead
Your Initial Consultation
At whatever point in your divorce proceedings you decide to come to us, we are happy to provide legal advice and assist you.
In your first meeting with us, we will listen carefully to the particulars of your situation over a tea or coffee before laying out the next steps of the process, including any legal fees, in a clear and accessible way. It is our professional duty as a law firm to work towards your best interests so, if we believe you are approaching a matter from an angle that is disadvantageous to you, we will let you know. Depending on your circumstances, we may also speak with you about how professionals such as a financial advisor, family therapist or pensions expert could assist you through the divorce process.
You can contact us as soon as you have found out whether you have grounds for a divorce, or sooner if you require guidance as to whether your situation qualifies.
The process, assuming it is undefended by your spouse, usually takes around 3-4 months to complete. The end result is a court order called a Decree Absolute which dissolves your marriage.
You can begin a divorce after the first year of marriage has elapsed, on the grounds that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This is evidenced by one of 5 facts: Adultery, Unreasonable behaviour, Desertion of 2 years, Separation of 2 years with consent of the other party, Separation of 5 years (no consent required)
Applying for Divorce
For a divorce to be able to proceed in the United Kingdom, you must have been legally married for at least a year and either you or your former partner must primarily reside in the UK. You will be asked to give one or more reasons (known as "facts") that the relationship has permanently ended.
Once the facts are established, an application to divorce can be made. We can help you with this paperwork including your divorce petition or talk you through your options if your husband or wife has sent you an Issued divorce petition and an Acknowledgement of Service document. We can guide you through the process of applying for a decree nisi. This is a document declaring that the court sees no reason that you cannot divorce. When parties are in a disagreement over whether the divorce should proceed, it can be necessary to discuss the case at a court hearing.
Agreements and Negotiation
As a part of the divorce process, it is important to reach an agreement with your spouse to maintain a positive relationship for the future - particularly over arrangements concerning money, property and your children. Some divorcing couples negotiate this themselves, sometimes even before the first application is made. If this is so, we can help you to formalise the agreement and make it legally binding. If not, we can supply advice and guidance as you and your former partner discuss these terms.
Agreements are often achieved through mediation but we can also help you to negotiate a settlement through collaborative practice and constructive negotiation. When no satisfactory agreement can be reached through other methods, court proceedings are occasionally required, although this should be treated as a last resort. If you do attend court, we will help you to prepare your case, find an excellent, trusted barrister and ensure that you have all the assistance necessary.
Finalising a Divorce
Once we have helped to turn your agreement into a binding legal document and approximately 6 weeks have passed since the date of your decree nisi, you can apply for a decree absolute. This will finalise your divorce process and you will no longer be legally married.
The entire process of divorce (excluding the financial agreement), assuming it is undefended by your spouse, usually takes around 3-4 months to complete. While some divorces are really that simple, some come with unforeseen roadblocks and difficulties. Whatever the case, we will be there by your side to support you and give you the advice you need to make the right choices for you and your family.
''Ros acted with compassion and sound advice as I navigated my way through my divorce. My ex-husband and I were keen to keep things as amicable as possible whilst completing the divorce as swiftly as we could. We achieved this through the advice and support of Ros who understood our situation and acted in the best way to achieve this. Our divorce concluded within 5 months and to this day my ex-husband and I remain good friends. I am very grateful to Ros for easing the way through a very difficult time.''
Divorce & Financial Negotiation
Divorce and financial settlement
To ensure that assets are split fairly between parties, their value must first be evaluated. Assets can include property, savings, businesses, pensions and more. Since assets such as pensions can be worth more than they appear, an independent valuation may be required to assess their true value. At Harbour Family Law, we can advise you when your situation would benefit from contact with experts including pension actuaries and property surveyors to give you complete peace of mind that a fair deal has been reached.
Once an accurate valuation of the assets has been achieved, we can help you to negotiate a settlement. Doing this through round table meetings with your spouse and their solicitor can save time but it’s also possible to come to a financial agreement through correspondence.
Children and Divorce
For divorcing couples who are parents, coming to agreements around children can be extremely difficult and emotional. We can guide you through these negotiations and help you with all the challenging questions including contact hours, living arrangements and who will be involved in making big decisions in your child’s life.
We always strive to ensure that your child’s wellbeing is put at the front and centre of every agreement.
Mediation and Divorce
Mediation is an alternative resolution method to confrontational dispute. It is a process where divorcing parties meet with an unbiased mediator to discuss various settlements and agreements. The aim is to speak in a calm way where both spouse’s opinions are listened to and considered and, ultimately, to decide on a way forward together.
Public funding was unfortunately withdrawn from most aspects of family law in 2013. As a result, most clients will need to fund their legal fees privately. You may be able to apply to have certain costs covered if you are at risk of homelessness, a victim of domestic abuse or if you’re using the aid for the purpose of mediation. In some cases, you can also apply to have your spouse’s help with legal costs.
We understand that uncertainty around legal fees can be an upsetting aspect of your divorce. After our first consultation with you, we will be able to provide you with an overall estimate of your legal costs. Find out more on our Fees page.
Ending a Civil Partnership
The two processes are extremely similar, but there are a few minor differences between divorce and ending a civil partnership. Take a look at our information on the dissolution of civil partnerships for more information.