Contested Divorce solicitors in London

We have all heard the horror stories of lengthy, stressful and expensive divorce cases. Most of these involve the wealthy Hollywood celebrities and business moguls. A divorce need not involve protracted court proceedings, mudslinging and huge lawyer bills. In reality, the majority of divorces in England follow a smooth process with no appearances at court and can be undertaken at an agreed fixed fee. The key to ensuring that the divorce process is kept simple is to decide whether it should proceed on a contested or on an uncontested basis.


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Our Family Law Services

Shortlands is a boutique family law firm with over 20 years of experience in dealing with the trials and tribulations of a divorce and all family law matters. As a result, we have become the first choice of family law specialists in London.

Uncontested Divorce

Almost 99% of divorces follow the uncontested route. This is when both parties agree that the marriage has broken down and want to end the relationship amicably. One party (the Petitioner) starts the process basing it on a certain fact (there are five facts available – see our page on divorce procedure). The other party (the Respondent) will then respond to the petition once received from the court, indicating that they will not defend the proceedings. The process takes approximately six months to conclude and does not require any court appearances by either party. The court processes everything on paper.

Contested Divorce

There are rare occasions when the Respondent feels that they are not ready for a divorce or they disagree with the fact relied upon by the Petitioner within the petition. In such cases, the Respondent will respond to the divorce petition stating that they intend to defend the proceedings. The Respondent then has 21 days to file an Answer. This is a document indicating the reason for defending the proceedings. In a contested divorce case, the parties will have to attend court on at least two occasions and file long statements. At the second hearing, oral evidence is heard by a Judge who will decide the matter.


The process is expensive, length and highly stressful. Be aware that the losing party will pay the other party’s legal costs, which can run into thousands. Further, it is rare for a Judge to be persuaded to not allow a divorce to proceed, meaning that it is usually the Respondent who pays the Petitioner’s costs.


If you are considering contesting a divorce, you are advised to seek advice from a Specialist Family Lawyer so that you can then make an informed decision of how best to proceed.

Speak to Our Family Law Experts

Our professional and highly experienced team of family lawyers can assist you in your legal matters with full respect, ensuring you maintain a private family life. For more extensive advice and information, please email or call us 02076299905 or book an initial online consultation.

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We understand that every case is different and has its own complexities. Our experts are dedicated to guiding you through the legal process with tailored solutions which work for you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

You have to be married for at least one year before divorce can be commenced. 

No. You are able to divorce in the UK as long as you or your spouse have been resident here for at least one year before starting your case, or you and your spouse are domiciled in the UK.

No. The same procedure has to be followed before divorce is finalised. See Our Flowchart

– A divorce petition

– Original Marriage Certificate, with translation if appropriate

– A fee

An ‘agreed divorce’ takes about 5-6 months to finalise.

You are still able to divorce by showing the court that you have made attempts to locate them. The facts of 2 years’ separation with consent or adultery should not be relied upon in this instance.

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