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Family & Matrimonial

Getting a Divorce

Getting a Divorce

A petition for divorce cannot be presented to the Court before the end of a period of one year from the date of the marriage although, provided that the grounds for divorce can be satisfied, it is possible to present a petition for divorce after one year based on matters that occurred during this initial one-year period.

The person who decides to petition for divorce is referred to as ‘the Petitioner’ or ‘the Applicant’, with the other party referred to as ‘the Respondent’.

Grounds for Divorce

There is only one ground on which a petition for divorce may be presented to the Court - that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This is established by satisfying one of the following five facts:

  • Adultery by the Respondent, with the Petitioner also finding it intolerable to live with the Respondent. It is important to note that the Petitioner is not able to rely on adultery committed by the Respondent if the couple live together for a period exceeding six months after the Petitioner became aware of the last act of adultery.

It is not a requirement to name the co-Respondent in an adultery position.

  • Unreasonable behaviour by the Respondent, which results in the Petitioner being unable to continue living with the Respondent.

The Court must make a value judgement about the Respondent’s behaviour and its effect on the behaviour, and so several examples of the Respondent’s conduct are usually required for this petition. However, in situations where the couple remains amicable, it is often possible to agree the contents of the petition before issuing it.

  • Desertion for two years requires the Respondent to have deserted the Petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the divorce petition.
  • Separation for two years with consent – the couple must have lived apart for a period of two years prior to a petition on this basis being issued at Court. The parties do not have to have lived in separate houses for this petition to be successful; however they must have effectively been living separate lives. This petition also requires the Respondent’s consent.
  • Separation for five years does not require the Respondent’s consent. The divorce can be delayed by the Respondent showing that it would result in grave financial hardship.

How long does it take to get a divorce? The process

When the divorce petition has been drafted, it will be lodged at Court. The original marriage certificate must also be sent to Court, where it will be retained. Finally, a fee must also be sent to enable the petition to be issued. This is currently £550.

The Court then takes a few days to issue the Petition, a copy of which is sent to the Respondent who must then confirm that they have received it and advise whether they will be defending the proceedings.

If they decide to defend the proceedings, the Court will set a date for a directions appointment to try to resolve matters between the parties. This can lead to a final hearing, at which both the Petitioner and the Respondent will be required to give evidence.

If the Respondent decides not to defend the divorce petition, the Petitioner can take the next step to apply for Decree Nisi.

Decree Nisi

This is the first of two Decrees before the divorce is finalised. An application for Decree Nisi is prepared together with a Statement in Support, in which the Petitioner confirms that the contents of the Divorce Petition are true. These are then sent to the Court.

A district judge considers the documents and, if they consider that all information is in place, a date will be given on which Decree Nisi is pronounced (usually about a month later).

Neither party is required to attend the hearing at which Decree Nisi is pronounced. It is important to note that at this point, the parties remain married.

Decree Absolute

After a period of six weeks and one day from the date that the Decree Nisi is pronounced, the Petitioner can apply for Decree Absolute – this finally dissolves the marriage.

It is usually advisable to wait for all financial matters to be resolved before applying for Decree Absolute.

If the Petitioner does not apply for Decree Absolute, after a further three months the Respondent may apply for this to take place and must pay a fee. However, the decree is not automatically granted in this case, and a hearing must take place.

It is important to keep the Decree Absolute safe – you will need to show it if you wish to remarry.

Talk to IBB Solicitors about divorce today

The divorce process can be long winded, confusing and stressful. For expert insight and friendly advice, talk to experts at IBB Solicitors today. Whether you’re looking for a quick, stress-free end to your marriage, want to contest parts of your separation or simply want more information on the process, we can help. Call us with no obligation today on 03456 381381 or email us at familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk