There are three areas to consider when getting a divorce; the divorce itself, which is the process that legally ends the marriage, the process of sorting out the financial issues, and the arrangements for children, if you have them.
Reasons for Divorce
Before you can obtain a divorce, you must have been married for a year. The relationship must have also broken down without any hope of getting back together; this is called an irretrievable break down. This must be demonstrated to a court by one of five reasons (or grounds):
- Adultery: Your spouse has committed adultery. In most cases you prove adultery by your husband or wife admitting it. If not, you will need to speak to a solicitor. (If you carry on living with your husband or wife for more than six months after you find out about the adultery, you will generally not be able to use this as grounds for divorce, unless the adultery is continuing.)
- Unreasonable behaviour: Your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live together. This covers all sorts of bad behaviour. You need to think about the main things that have made your husband or wife difficult to live with. As with adultery, you cannot rely on single events that took place more than six months before you make your application if you have lived together since then, unless further incidents have occurred.
- Desertion for at least two years: Your spouse deserted you more than 2 years ago.
- Two years’ separation, if you both agree to the divorce: You have been separated for 2 years and your spouse agrees to divorce. You can have had periods of living together as long as they do not add up to more than six months and you have been apart for at least two years altogether.
- Five years’ separation, if there is no agreement to the divorce: You have been separated for 5 years. Your spouse cannot defend this but they can ask the court not to complete the divorce process because of a major financial or other type of hardship.
- What Happens next? There are 3 main stages involved in the divorce itself – Filing the divorce petition, Applying for a ‘Decree Nisi’ and getting a ‘Decree Absolute’.
Step 1: Filing the Divorce Petition
The divorce petition itself is a long document that has to be prepared on your behalf. It contains all the details of the marriage including where and when you got married, details of any children of the marriage (and children from previous relationships), together with details of the grounds that you are planning on using for the divorce.
‘Filing’ actually means sending this to the court along with the court fee. The court will then serve this document on the other party, who in return fills out and sends back to the court an ‘Acknowledgement of service’ (If they don’t do this then you can apply to have bailiffs service – where a bailiff serves the document on the other party. The bailiff’s confirmation can then be used instead of the acknowledgement of service.
Step 2: Applying for a Decree Nisi
Step 3: Getting a Decree Absolute
How long will it take?
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