Unfortunately, sometimes when a marriage breaks down things can get complicated. Divorce itself can be a painful process as not only are emotions high, but the legal proceedings can sometimes seem endless. The decision to separate is never easy and is life changing, but with the correct advice and support throughout, the process can be less daunting.
Once the decision has been made to divorce proceedings can be commenced at any time provided that you have been married for over one year and that one partner is domiciled or habitually resident in England and Wales.
The only ground for divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and to establish this one of the following five facts must be relied upon:
- Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to continue living together; or
- Your spouse has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue living together; or
- Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of two years or more; or
- You and your spouse have been living separately for two years or more and your spouse agrees to the divorce; or
- You and your spouse have been living separately for five years or more.
The spouse issuing the divorce proceedings is called the Petitioner whilst the spouse to receive the Divorce Petition is called the Respondent. The Petitioner must submit a Divorce Petition to the Court with the original marriage certificate and a court fee which is currently £550.00. If there are children of the marriage, then the Petitioner must also submit a Statement of Arrangements about the children to the Court with the Petition.
The Court will then issue a Notice of Proceedings to the Respondent and request that they complete and Return an Acknowledgment of Service within 7 days confirming whether they wish to defend the Petition. If a Respondent does intend to defend the Petition, they must file a defence called an Answer within 28 days of receipt of the Petition.
If the Respondent does not intend to defend the Petition, the Petitioner then files a statement in support of the Petition and applies to the Court for the Decree Nisi. A Judge will consider the papers submitted and if satisfied that the ground for divorce is made, they will certify that the Petitioner is entitled to a divorce and will fix a date on which the Decree Nisi will be pronounced. Neither party needs to attend Court for this pronouncement.
Once the Decree Nisi has been granted, the Petitioner may apply for the Decree Absolute after six weeks and one day has passed. If the Petitioner does not apply for the Decree Absolute, then the Respondent may do so three months later. The Decree Nisi is then made Absolute and the marriage is dissolved.
If you find yourself in need of advice our Family Department has the resources to help you no matter what the issue arising as a consequence of the breakdown of your relationship.