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Divorce & Separation

Divorce & Separation

We guide you through divorce so you can move forward with your life with confidence

The breakdown of a relationship can be stressful, complicated and emotional. It can be hard to think straight, let alone navigate divorce.

But having the right team by your side makes you stronger. Our team of highly experienced divorce solicitors will help you understand the legal jargon, carefully guiding and supporting you through the divorce process with compassion and reassurance.

Every breakup is different, and no two divorces are exactly alike, so we always offer a service that fits your situation and concerns. We listen carefully and tailor our approach to your individual needs, always keeping your best interests at heart.

We’ll help you get through your divorce so you can face the future with strength and optimisim.

Contact our divorce solicitors in Northwich, Cheshire

For expert legal advice from our local divorce solicitors in Cheshire, please call 01606 48777 or complete our online enquiry form to speak to a member of the family law team.

Frequently asked questions about divorce

How do you get divorced?

We can guide you through the divorce process, making it easier for you and your family.  There are five key steps:

Step 1 – You complete the divorce application

This step is usually done online, but it can also be completed on paper if you prefer. You can apply alone (a ‘sole application’) or with your spouse (a ‘joint application’).

Step 2 – The court ‘issues’ the divorce

This is a formality involving the Court accepting your application is valid. It officially starts the divorce process.

Step 3 – Serving the application  and acknowledgement of service (only for sole applications)

If you made a sole application, the Court sends your spouse a copy of the application. They must respond within 14 days by completing the included ‘acknowledgement of service’ form. If your spouse fails to respond, the Court will make further efforts to contact them but ultimately, the divorce will be able to go ahead once the Court is satisfied that your spouse has been notified of the divorce.

Step 4 – Apply for the Conditional Order

You can apply for the Conditional Order 20 weeks after the Court issues your divorce. This is an interim court order acknowledging that there is no reason your divorce cannot go ahead.

Step 5 – Apply for the Final Order

Six weeks after you have received the Conditional Order, you can apply for the Final Order. This is the court order that legally ends your marriage. Once you have received the Final Order, you are free to continue your life as a single person, including remarrying if you wish.

How will our finances be divided?

Any division of finances you agree to, or that is ordered by a court should be fair to both parties, covering each person’s reasonable needs and those of any children. It is vital to seek expert legal advice to ensure you fully understand your financial rights and entitlements, and those of your spouse.

Our divorce solicitors can provide clear advice on the division of finances and support you through negotiating a settlement or applying to a family court for a Financial Order.

Learn more about our divorce and finances services.

What happens to our children when we divorce?

The Court only gets involved with issues concerning your children when all other options have been exhausted.

The sooner you can work out arrangements for your children, the less disruptive it will be for them and you. Any plans you make must be in your children’s best interests while protecting your relationship with them.

Our divorce solicitors can assist with clear advice on all aspects of child law and your parental rights. We can help negotiate child arrangements or apply to a family court for a Child Arrangements Order.

Learn more about our child arrangements services.

How do we avoid arguments and conflict during our divorce?

If you want to avoid conflict, our divorce solicitors are experts in negotiation, mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods to keep things amicable while ensuring you get the right outcome for your divorce. Where your situation is more challenging and a tougher approach is needed, we can guide you through court proceedings.

What is mediation, and how does it help?

Mediation is now the most commonly used approach to agreeing on the division of finances and child arrangements during divorce and separation. The process involves meeting with a trained, neutral mediator who helps you discuss and agree on any points that need to be resolved.

At Susan Howarth & Co, we offer mediation in-house and have a highly experienced accredited mediator in our team. You should seek legal advice before entering mediation so you are clear on your rights and what you are entitled to. Your solicitor should review any agreement you reach through mediation to ensure it is fair and meets your needs.

We recommend that any agreement reached through mediation be legally binding by applying for a Consent Order.

Learn more about our family mediation services

What is a Consent Order?

A Consent Order is a court order confirming how your finances will be divided in divorce. It is used where you have voluntarily agreed to a settlement but want the assurance that these terms will be stuck to by both people in the future.

What is a ‘no fault’ divorce?

Since April 2022, divorcing couples in England and Wales have been able to take advantage of the new ‘no fault’ divorce process. This means there is no longer any need for one spouse to ‘take the blame’ for the divorce, as was required under the old process. This change was introduced by the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020.

Previously, couples needed to give one of five accepted reasons for their divorce, but this is no longer necessary. The only ground for divorce required is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. You do not need to say why this is or provide any proof.

Other changes introduced by this Act include:

  • Removing the possibility for someone to contest a divorce started by their spouse (except in very limited circumstances)
  • Allowing the spouses to apply for the divorce together in a joint application (if they wish to do so)
  • Adding a new 20-week “cooling off” period into the process, setting a new minimum time limit of 26 weeks for divorce
  • Modernising the language used in the divorce process, e.g.
    • ‘Divorce petition’ became ‘divorce application’
    • ‘Decree nisi’ became ‘Conditional Order’
    • ‘Decree absolute’ became ‘Final Order’

These changes are intended to make divorce more straightforward and limit the potential for avoidable conflict.

How long does a divorce take in England and Wales?

Under the new rules brought in by the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, it now takes a minimum of 26 weeks (6 months) to get divorced. Each part of the process needs to be completed promptly and accurately to achieve this time frame..

How long it takes to divide your finances and make arrangements for children will depend on your situation. If you can agree on these matters between you, it will generally be much quicker than relying on court proceedings.

How much does a divorce cost?

Support for divorce applications can usually be offered on a fixed fee basis, which our team will be happy to discuss with you when you contact us.

For help with financial matters and arrangements for children, we may be able to charge a fixed fee or work to an agreed hourly rate, depending on the nature of the support you need. We can provide a fixed price or realistic estimate of costs at the outset.

Learn more about our family law pricing.

Can I protect my money during a separation?

The division of finances in separation and divorce is often a source of anxiety. Getting early legal advice on your rights and what your spouse may be entitled to is sensible.

If there are specific assets you wish to protect, such as an inheritance or business interests, you may need to agree to give your spouse a bigger share of other assets in exchange for retaining the assets you want to protect.

You should consider applying for a Clean Break Order (or including a Clean Break clause in your Consent Order). This legally cuts financial ties between you and your spouse, preventing future financial claims after your divorce.

Can I get legal aid for my divorce?

In some circumstances, you may be eligible for legal aid to assist with the cost of your divorce. At Susan Howarth & Co Solicitors, we work with legal aid clients and can help you to assess your entitlement.

If you do not qualify for legal aid, rest assured we offer affordable fees for our clients. We may be able to offer a fixed-fee divorce service, depending on your case.

Will we need to go to court to get divorced?

If you cannot agree to the details of your divorce amicably, you will need to apply to the family court to decide on these matters for you. For financial matters, you will need to apply for a Financial Order. For child arrangements, you will need to apply for a Child Arrangements Order.

Our divorce law solicitors can advise on how these processes work and prepare the relevant applications for you. If your former spouse has applied for a court order, we can advise on how to respond and ensure you have expert representation for court hearings if required.

Why Choose Susan Howarth & Co for divorce advice?

We believe everyone has the right to access justice and expert legal advice. This can make navigating even the most complicated family law situations much simpler and less stressful. We are very proud of our family law department and the fantastic reputation our high-calibre solicitors have built in the community.

At Susan Howarth & Co, we approach every case with professionalism and commitment. No client’s needs are the same, which is why we always take the time to listen to you and understand your individual requirements.

Our expertise is independently recognised, including:

  • Ranked as a Band 2 legal practice in the Chambers & Partners UK legal guide
  • Directors Susan Howarth and Victoria Poole are both also ranked as Notable Practitioners by Chambers & Partners UK
  • Ranked as a Band 3 Leading Family Law Firm in The Legal 500 directory
  • Susan Howarth has been ranked as a Leading Individual for 4 consecutive years by the Legal 500 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2023 as one of only seven individuals in Family Law (North West)
  • Accreditation by the Law Society for Family Law and Children Law
  • Many of our team are members of Resolution, the leading professional network for family lawyers
  • Year on year we gain Lexcel accreditation for excellence in practice management
  • We are winners of the Best Family and Childcare Law firm (North West) 2023 and 2022 in the AI Legal Awards.
  • We have been finalists of the Lexis Nexis Family Law Firm of the Year (North) for 2 consecutive years

A key benefit we can offer is our in-house family mediation service. We have a specialist Resolution-trained Family Mediator who is also a Resolution-accredited Specialist in Domestic Violence and Children Law (private) and an FMC-accredited Family Mediator (all issues).​

Contact our divorce solicitors in Northwich, Cheshire

If you’d like to discuss your legal needs with one of our experienced divorce lawyers today, give us a call on 01606 48777 or email

For more information or to speak to one of our experts, please call us on 01606 48777

Get in touch

  • "By the time my divorce and settlements were achieved, I felt that the firm were friends. The way they listened, giving me as always, a compassionate ear. The advice given resulted in me having an income better than it would have been."

  • "At one of the most difficult times of my life, gave me the confidence to take that huge step. Your compassion and support set you apart from the rest – you never let me give up or give in, I never felt alone and knew you were always there."

  • "Always gave me realistic, sound advice and guided me through a very difficult period with her years of experience and a touch of sympathy."

    Karen Duggan
  • "Thank you, be proud. You demonstrated empathy and compassion and successfully obtained legal aid when no one else could and have been very patient. We are extremely grateful for your dedication and kindness. You have made a difference."

    Jenny Wood