When can I get a divorce?

After you have been married for at least a year.

How do I get divorced?

You prove to the court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. This could be because:

  • Your husband or wife has committed adultery.
  • Your husband or wife has behaved so badly that it is no longer tolerable to live with them.
  • Your husband or wife has deserted you for more than two years.
  • You have been living apart for more than two years and you both agree to get divorced.
  • You have been living apart for 5 years even if your partner does not agree.
What are the different ways of getting divorced?

You collaborate means you resolve matters resulting from the breakdown of your relationship without having to go to court. This approach puts you in control of the divorce process and helps everyone involved reach the fairest solution possible.

This empowers you to set the agenda and talk about the things that matter most to your family. You can take your time to consider all options as you’re not governed by court dates and you maintain contact with your former partner, giving you the best chance of understanding each other and coming to an agreement.

To make collaborative divorce work both sides need a genuine commitment and desire to succeed. Your lawyers will have to be committed too. As part of this approach, they’ll have to sign an agreement that says if the collaborative approach breaks down; they can’t go onto represent you in court.

Dovetail offers a collaborative divorce at a fee that is fixed at the start of proceedings. This fee includes all costs including the advice of a financial advisor and a relationship coach. This means that are supported by a team of professional with the same goal: to reach the best agreement possible for you, your partner and your family.

Do it yourself means that you and your partner decide between you how you will divide your assets and share the care of your children. You then complete the relevant paperwork and submit it to court along with your fees for a judge to review, if they feel that your arrangements are fair and reasonable they will grant you a divorce.

Without the advice of a lawyer you may find that your arrangements are not as clear cut as you thought, so it may save you money in the short term but leave you liable to problems in the future and you may not get a fair deal. You are taking on all the responsibility yourself and have no financial, legal or emotional support or advice.

You go to court means asking a judge to decide how you will divide the children’s care and the finances. This may be unavoidable if you and your partner are unable to agree these things between yourselves. Litigation is best seen as the last resort option as it tends to be expensive, matters such as the timing of proceedings are taken out of your control, you may be called upon to give evidence in a court room and you may not think that the judge’s final decision is fair. This can lead to a worsening of your relationship with your partner and tends to be emotionally draining.

You go to an arbitrator means using an experienced lawyer who is trained in arbitration to adjudicate on financial issues, this can be a faster and more flexible approach than going to court, but you will still need a judge to grant you a divorce and decide on the arrangements for the children. You will not be able to appeal to the decision made by the arbitrator and you will not have the benefit of legal, financial and emotional support through the process.

You go through mediation means reaching a divorce settlement without going to court. It involves both of you sitting down with a trained mediator and trying to reach amicable solutions to any disputes.

Everyone has a chance to be heard but it isn’t intended as a forum to rake over old ground – the idea is that you can each air your views and work out a way to move forward.

The Mediator is unable to provide legal advice and so you will each need to engage a Family Lawyer to help you draft and review the final agreement. The Lawyer will help guide you, but they act outside the meeting and after the discussion has taken place. This can make mediation feel a little isolated and disjointed as you need to keep coming back to your lawyer for guidance over points you discuss in mediation.

In mediation there can be a power imbalance: one of you may know more about the finances or be more confident at negotiating and you may not feel that you have arrived at a fair settlement.

Why choose a Dovetail divorce?


Dovetail lawyers are unique in the UK in that they offer you a fixed fee for your collaborative divorce. All costs, including legal fees, court costs (you do not have to go to court, but a judge has to see the agreement you have reached and grant your divorce) and VAT are included in your quote and there are no hidden extras.

This is possible because your chosen lawyer works as a team with a specialist Relationship Coach and Financial Adviser so you are supported at all times by the most appropriate and qualified professional.

The Dovetail team work together and are committed to helping you to finalise your divorce amicably so that you and your partner are able to remain on good terms and work together in the best interests of you both as well as the children and other family members in the long term.

Where do I start with a Dovetail divorce?

You can start by working through the cost calculator and seeing how much a Dovetail Divorce will cost you. Alternatively, you can select one of the lawyers listed and arrange an introductory meeting at which you can learn more about the options open to you

What are the steps involved in getting divorced through Dovetail?

The steps are set out here: DDS Process

What is a Dovetail five way meeting?

At Dovetail we recognise that we all have skills and knowledge that can help our clients at different times and stages of their divorce.

Often in the Collaborative process you will see reference to 4 way meetings where you and your ex meet with your chosen collaboratively trained solicitors. A 5 way meeting simply extends the participants by one to include a coach or a financial adviser or an accountant for example.

The Collaborative process puts you in control so you agree between you as and when you need the extra input. These support professionals can attend for part of a meeting or be tasked with reviewing specific matters and preparing a report for discussion at a meeting. It is about structuring the meetings to deliver the best solution to meet your needs.

All of the professionals involved in Dovetail know and respect one another, often supporting and working for clients over many years.

If ever there is such a thing as a “typical” collaborative divorce, it might follow something like this:

Initial meeting to

  • set the agenda,
  • establish the participation agreement,
  • prepare anchor statements
  • possibly deal with any imminent matters such as interim contact arrangements for children for example.
  • They may also cover costs and payment of fees at this initial stage so that as many niggles can be sorted out allowing you to focus on the larger matters to be agreed.

The 2nd meeting often deals with

  • housing needs
  • contact arrangements for children, helping to minimise the disruption and upheaval they feel and are exposed too.

The 3rd meeting may well focus on

  • the financial situation and putting in place a division that meets both parties needs whilst taking into account both of your wants moving forward with your separate lives.

It may require a final meeting to structure and agree upon the final wording of the agreement.

The time between meetings will be determined by you. The meetings may only require a few weeks between them or it may need months. But there is no court issuing dates that you have to squeeze your life into. You remain in control and can deal with matters at your pace.

What is included in the Dovetail fixed fee?

What is included in the Dovetail fixed fee?

  • All your Lawyer’s fees and costs
  • Time with the Relationship Coach
  • Input from an accredited Independent financial Neutral
  • Court fees
  • VAT
  • Administration costs

Please note that the cost calculator confirms the number of meetings that your initial fixed fee includes. Every divorce is different and so your quote also confirms the cost of additional meetings if required beyond the initial 2, 3 or 4 meetings priced into your initial fixed fee amount.

What is not included in the Dovetail fixed fee?

The concept behind Dovetail Divorce Solutions is to provide clients with a clear and transparent charging structure to their divorce. There are no hidden extras but the fixed fee can’t cover everything. Below is a list of the most likely additional costs that you will face during your divorce. It’s not exhaustive and if you’re in any doubt please contacts one of your dovetail team for clarity

  • Accountant costs, for example valuing a business or preparing special accounts for the divorce.
  • Estate agency costs to market your property or valuation fees for your home or other assets.
  • Any financial agreement implementation costs. Implementing the finical agreement is a separate activity to the role of the financial neutral. In addition many pension plans have a charge to split them on divorce.
  • Specialist bespoke counselling services or therapist costs that may be required.
When is the Fixed Fee Payable?

The initial fixed fee is payable at the start of the process.

You will have both costed your divorce using the Dovetail online cost calculator. You will have both met your selected lawyer and decided you want to work with them. Your Lawyer will have checked your cost quote against your circumstances and checked with the other lawyer that they match. Any discrepancy in your answers will have been resolved at this point and a total cost for your divorce agreed upon.

You both pay the agreed amount to your lawyer for their services and to Dovetail for the financial and emotional support. Alternatively, you may decide that one of you may pay the full amount.

All of the professional parties have agreed to work on a fixed fee basis. Your commitment is to make payment at the start of the process.

What happens about the children in the Dovetail process?

In a Dovetail Divorce you will come to an agreement on the arrangements for the children in joint meetings with your partner. Your lawyer and their lawyer will be present at these meetings to assist in this process and inform you on points of law. The lawyers are committed to respecting the wishes and needs of all parties and will help you to reach an amicable and fair agreement. The relationship coach may be invited to attend the meetings and support this process.

What happens about the finances in a Dovetail divorce?

At the start of the divorce process a Dovetail financial adviser will work with you to clarify where you both stand financially. This means detailing your income and outgoings and your assets and liabilities such as your savings, pensions and life assurance cover to get a full picture of your financial situation.

In a Dovetail Divorce you will discuss the financial arrangements with your partner in meetings attended by your lawyers. The Dovetail financial adviser, who is impartial and so called a Financial Neutral, is often present in these meetings to offer information, impartial advice and suggestions about how the divisions might be made.

Any reports and calculations, such as how to balance the pension incomes in the future, are carried out by the Financial Neutral and their findings and proposals are discussed in the meetings to help you reach a satisfactory division.

After the divorce each party is free to implement the financial settlement with whomever they choose.

What is the usual timetable in a Dovetail divorce?

Your fixed fee will cover a set number of meetings which will be agreed with your lawyer at the start of the process. Additional meetings are occasionally required and the cost of these is set out at the outset.

How many meetings will there be in a Dovetail divorce?

Your fixed fee will cover a set number of meetings which will be agreed with your lawyer at the start of the process. Additional meetings are occasionally required and the cost of these is set out at the outset.

How is child support calculated?

Child support is an on-going payment between parents. It is intended to help with the costs of bringing up a child and is usually calculated as a strict formula – 15% of net income for one child, 20% for two and 25% for three or more. If you’re paying the maintenance these figures will be reduced depending on how many nights your child stays with you.

However, you and your ex-partner can agree your own figures if you want, which can be formally set down in an order dealing with the overall financial settlement of a divorce, a separation agreement or maintenance agreement.

It is this sort of matter that fits collaborative law really well. No one is better placed than you are to know what your children need and how much that will cost.

What does the Financial Neutral do?

Their role is to help you and your partner to separate your finances in as efficient a way possible.

Financial products are often complex because they try hard to weave around tax laws and make your money grow as efficiently as possible, stopping and cancelling them can have tax implications and its these sort of considerations that the financial Neutral will bring into the discussions.

How you divide your financial pot can affect how much you each receive and having a neutral person look at the plans you have in place enables you to move forward knowing that a fair and sensible solution can be reached.

Pensions are complicated because there are so many different types. Some offer guaranteed income in the future and others go up and down in value with the stock markets. The financial neutral is experienced, qualified and accredited by Resolution in dealing with these matters.

What does the relationship coach do?

The relationship coach is here to support you through the entire divorce process. They will meet with you both separately as soon as you have decided on a Dovetail divorce to clarify your priorities for yourself and your family in the longer term. If needed they will help you prepare emotionally and give you some techniques that will help you to keep focussed throughout the process. They will clarify what is most important to you and advise on how to support your loved ones as they come to terms with the inevitable changes ahead. If needed they can help you find ways of communicating your wishes clearly.

The relationship coach may recommend that you contact a counsellor, a money coach, a child psychotherapist or other specialist for additional support for you or another member of your family.
The Coach is on hand throughout the process to help to ensure that you reach the best possible outcome for all from your divorce.