Family Breakdown

Divorce & Separation Icon

Going through a divorce or separation can be stressful. We can help you work through the process and make the right arrangements for you and your circumstances.

Our experienced family law solicitors can help you through what can be a worrying time. We deal with each case on an individual basis, and are experts at court processes. We know what your financial settlement should be and how to get financial security for you, plus, we are experienced at sorting out arrangements for children.

Our personalised approach means we listen to your concerns, and provide an excellent service. Also, as legal costs are usually a major concern we offer a variety of payment options.

If you run a business with your partner or spouse, our team also offers expertise in financial settlements involving farms, trusts, pubs and other ventures.

In the first instance our family law lawyers and solicitors offer an initial consultation so that preliminary advice can be sought on a person’s individual circumstances. Clients tell us that they find these “helpful”, “useful” and feel “relieved” that they have been able to get real help with their situation.

To book your appointment ring 01473 611211 and ask for the family team.

If you are in Suffolk, or anywhere in East Anglia, come to us for an arrangement that is sensible and practical – and focused on your future.

For more information, look at our divorce law FAQs and family law FAQs.

Separating couples may experience a range of problems due to changes in household circumstances. Visit our Information Hub for links to useful advisory and information services.

Contact us, we are here to help.

“Thank you is more than we can say for all your kindness and guidance through this difficult time – we are so grateful.”

Family Breakdown
Key Contacts


Sue Wardropper
Senior Associate Solicitor 
01473‍ 350561
Sam Ellis
Associate Solicitor 
01473‍‍ 350558


If you and your spouse agree on why you want a divorce, how your children will be looked after, and how you’re going to split all assets, then it is possible to arrange your divorce without using divorce solicitors. You do, however, need to be aware of hidden hazards. For example, unless the split of your assets is set out in a court order you will not have a clean break from your spouse. This may mean that he or she can claim further money or property from you in the future.

Whatever your circumstances, it is probably a good idea to meet with a divorce solicitor to ensure you understand the entire process.

Many couples are able to sort things out amicably on their own but for others their conversations break down. Emotions play a big role and some people’s finances can be quite complicated to resolve. These couples often find they need legal advice and sometimes a solicitor to represent them to get through the process and achieve an outcome that is good for them.

When it comes to our involvement, at Barker Gotelee our divorce solicitors can tailor their service to your needs and your budget. Sometimes people want us to do the whole package for them, which includes filing for divorce, sorting out the children’s arrangements and working out their financial settlement. However, we also work in other ways.

We provide one-off legal advice or legal advice on an ongoing ad hoc basis, We get involved in one part of the case but not in others. We advise on documents and can draft documents if asked to. Basically we tailor our service to what our clients want and to their budget.

There are a number of stages to getting a divorce, starting with you or your spouse (the petitioner) filling in the divorce application. But before this is completed there are many decisions to be made, including arrangements for children and how the finances are to be dealt with.

Currently, once the divorce application is sent to the court, it is given a number and sealed and sent out to your spouse. The majority of divorce petitions are now filed online. Your spouse will be notified of the application and will be asked to access the online casefile and complete an acknowledgment.

You will then be sent a copy of the acknowledgement and will then be able to apply for the Court’s permission to divorce. This is currently known as a Decree Nisi.

Finally, six weeks and a day after the Decree Nisi, you will be able to apply for a Decree Absolute. Only once this has been granted, are you divorced. Sometimes there is good reason to delay this part of the process if the finances have not been sorted out.

To get a divorce you must have been married for at least one year.

Currently, to prove to the Court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down you will have to cite one of the following reasons:

Unreasonable behaviour – where you find that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with your spouse. This can be as simple as the fact that they are devoting too much time to their career, social life, a hobby or sport, and neglecting your needs, to more serious allegations. You will need to put at least four or five allegations in your application if they are minor. Fewer are required where allegations are more serious.

Adultery – where your partner has had sexual relations with another person of the opposite sex. This must be proved through either admission or by providing circumstantial evidence. It is not necessary to name the other person involved.

Separation – when you and your spouse have consented to live apart for two years or more and you both agree to divorce, or when you and your spouse have been living apart for five years or more, even if your spouse does not agree with the divorce.

Desertion – when your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of time over two years or more.

However, from 6 April 2022 a new divorce process will come into force. Instead of being required to rely on one of the reasons listed above, the new procedure will allow one or both spouses to make a statement within a divorce application to say the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

The process of obtaining a divorce order is now completed online so the cost will depend on whether or not you use a solicitor to help you with the process. There is a petition fee payable to the Court regardless of who prepares the paperwork, though it may be possible to apply to the court for an exemption to this fee depending upon your financial circumstances.

It is very rare for spouses to appear in court in relation to the divorce application. Usually, this is only necessary if there is a disagreement over finances or if you do not agree on the arrangements for looking after your children.

When it comes to sorting out the future for your children, it is good to have a firm idea of what you both want for them. Often couples think alike about what they want. In this case the court will allow you to make your own arrangements and will not interfere with what you do.

If you can’t agree on what is to happen it is useful to ask divorce solicitors for advice. They should discuss mediation with you. This is where you will sit down with your spouse and a trained independent third party to try to resolve your differences. Alternatively you can contact a mediator directly.

While the majority of our clients live in Suffolk, our team of divorce solicitors based in Ipswich can work with you no matter where in the country you or your spouse are living.

While generally our clients come to see us at our offices in Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, our divorce solicitors do visit clients by special request. We also have a wide range of virtual platforms we can use in order to conduct meetings remotely if necessary.