Separation and divorce

Ranked in legal directories

Over 230 years of combined family law experience

All lawyers are members of Resolution

Experienced team of recognised specialists

Compassionate, clear and understanding solicitors

Forward thinking divorce solicitors

‘It’s easy to get caught up in the here-and-now instead of thinking about what’s best for you and your family’s future’

Divorce is never easy at any stage of your life. You may well be worried about your future, particularly how you’ll cope financially. At such an emotional time it can be difficult to see the best way forward to protect your long-term security. That’s why many people find it helpful to consult an experienced divorce solicitor.

Divorce legal advice tailored to your situation

Obtaining a divorce can be fairly straightforward, however the implications are often more complicated. It may well affect your life in ways that you may not have anticipated, for instance your personal status may change and you may lose previous entitlements. By taking our divorce legal advice at an early stage you can be better prepared for these consequences, helping to protect you and your family and safeguard your future interests.

Our divorce solicitors will carefully review your personal circumstances to make sure that they give you all the right advice. They might feel you could benefit from a less confrontational collaborative law divorce or your situation may require the traditional court approach. You can read our factsheet to learn more about collaborative law.

You are our number one priority throughout the process. We will support you to secure a divorce settlement that prepares the way for your future well-being. You can find out more about the divorce procedure or the alternative route of judicial separation in our factsheet.



Our credentials

What the team is known for: Highly experienced at taking on financial remedy cases. Focuses on settling issues through collaboration or mediation where possible, and through litigation if necessary. Active representing guardians in public law care proceedings. Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients): “They are highly skilled and committed professionals who work incredibly hard and diligently for their clients.” “They provided an excellent service in a very straightforward and non-technical way.” Notable practitioners: Richard Ellis (Band 2) enjoys a strong reputation for his public children expertise, and is also skilled at taking on matrimonial finance cases. He is hailed by one commentator as “phenomenally good and a great advocate.” Sharon MacDonald (Band 3) frequently represents high net worth clients on alternative dispute resolution proceedings, such as mediation and collaborative law, associated with complicated finance matters. One client reports: “She was very thorough – all the paperwork was correct down to the minutest detail. She obtained a wonderful result for me.” Jon Toogood (Eminent Practitioner) handles matrimonial finance issues in the context of divorce cases, and is a skilled arbitrator and collaborative lawyer. One client praises his “excellent technical knowledge, very good commercial awareness and very good bedside manner.” Katherine Lauder is a Recognised Practitioner.” Chambers 2017 South West

“What the team is known for: Well-known team in the Oxford market, with substantial experience in divorce and financial remedy matters involving complex assets. Also advises on public law children cases, including those involving allegations of non-accidental injury. Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients): “A really good outfit, and universally likeable.” Notable practitioners: Mark Phillips (Band 3) is experienced advising in divorce and financial remedy matters, especially those involving complex assets such as pensions and business interests. One source says of him: “He is very intellectually able, and has a pleasant, persuasive way about him.” Head of the Oxfordshire family team Simon Bassett (Band 3) is particularly active in matrimonial finance cases. One source reports: “I’ve been really impressed with his ability to think creatively around the financial cases, and to look for solutions that aren’t obvious.”” Chambers 2017 Oxford and Surrounds

“Royds Withy King is ‘one of Bath’s leading family law firms’ for collaborative law and mediation, and department head Richard Ellis has ‘a fantastic reputation’ in care proceedings. Also recommended are Sharon MacDonald and Jon Toogood, and newly promoted senior associates Katherine Lauder and Rebecca Stevens.” Legal 500 2016 South West

“Royds Withy King’s group is led by Simon Bassett who is ‘a consistent high performer, particularly in matrimonial finance’. The ‘efficient and committed’ Anne Davies specialises in child-related work” Legal 500 2016 South East

At a very difficult and stressful time, Sharon quickly made me feel at ease with her knowledge, reassurance and friendly, proactive outlook. I would have easily been persuaded to continue an impossible and damaging situation if it had not been for her help, advice and constant support.

Mandy McEvoy


Either party can start divorce proceedings if you have been married for at least 12 months. To start divorce proceedings, you have to apply to the Court for permission to divorce. The only ground for a divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. You then have to establish this ground by relying on one of five “facts.”


Proceedings begin by sending a Petition to the Court, in which you set out all the relevant details of your marriage. Once the Divorce Petition has been processed by the Court, a copy will be sent to your husband or wife.


For a divorce, this is a two staged process. The Court will first issue a Decree Nisi. Six weeks after the Decree Nisi has been pronounced, the person bringing the divorce can apply for the Decree Absolute. If there is a delay of more than four and a half months in making the application, the Court will consider that application at a Court hearing after the Judge has heard from both parties.

One of our specialist solicitors is able to deal with the finances, along side the divorce process. This will involve both you and your husband, or wife, disclosing all your financial information, which will then allow one of our solicitors to give you specific advice on your situation.


It is not always necessary to attend Court, as matters can often be negotiated between the parties, via solicitors. If matters can be agreed, this will usually take 6 to 12 months.


Before making an application to the Court you are now required to attend mediation before being able to apply to Court for Financial Remedy Order, although there are exemptions in certain circumstances. The Court process lasts for a year or so, although each case is different. One of our family solicitors, specialising in divorce and finances will be able to give you some guidance on how long your case may take.


If matters are not able to settle, parties are now required to consider mediation before making an application to the Court. Provided that there are divorce proceedings, either party can make an application to the Court to deal with the finances.


You can also find further information about separating your finances in divorce in our factsheets.

A pre-nuptial agreement can be a simple, but effective way to safeguard your future interests. These agreements can substantially help agreeing the terms of a divorce if your relationship breaks down.


A ‘pre-nup’, or pre-nuptial agreement, must be made before you get married and can set out the basis for dividing your assets. It can also set out any maintenance that may have to be paid in the event of a divorce. The agreement may also set out different options for dividing your assets depending on the reasons for a divorce.


Our specialist team can answer your questions on what is a ‘pre-nup’ and how a pre-nuptial agreement works, its aims and potential pitfalls.

If a relationship between an unmarried couple breaks down, there is little protection in place for either party. As a result, some cohabiting families can find themselves facing real difficulties should they separate.


For unmarried couples, an agreement known as a ‘cohabitation agreement’ can be drawn up. It sets out who owns what and in what proportion. The agreement can also document how you will split your house, its contents, your personal belongings, savings and other assets should the relationship break down.

Social services will normally start off with an assessment of you. In some situations, it may be that your child/children can be placed with the extended family whilst assessments are undertaken. Social services will appoint a guardian to represent your child’s/children’s interests and may get expert opinions from a child psychologist or psychiatrist. Each case is fact specific and it is advisable to obtain legal advice from one of our specialists as soon as possible when social services issue Court proceedings.


Legal aid is available for care proceedings, which will enable you to obtain advice and assistance throughout the Court process. We have specialist solicitors at Withy King that deal specifically with care proceedings.

Depending on your circumstances, we can help you by providing an individual, or a group of individuals, with an appropriate written warning. If more drastic action is needed for your safety and protection, there is a range of options available to you, depending on your individual circumstances. This can include a Non Molestation Order, an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act, or an Occupation Order.


It is advisable to speak with one of our specialist as soon as the incident arises as it may be that an urgent application has to be made on your behalf. We are also able to assess your eligibility for legal aid.

If you are unable to reach an agreement with your ex partner, it may that you are able to negotiate matters via solicitors. However, if you are unable to come to an agreement for the arrangements moving forward, you are required to attend mediation, before proceeding with an application to the Court. There are certain exemptions to mediation and one of our specialists can advise if the exemption is applicable in your case.


If matters cannot be agreed in mediation, you, or if requested, your solicitor, can be sent the necessary paper work to make an application to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order. When the Court is reaching a decision, it must take into account various factors under what is known as the ‘welfare checklist.’


One of our specialist solicitors can advise on your specific circumstances and the steps the Court are likely to take.

Contact us to find out more about how our divorce solicitors can help you prepare for a better future