The process of divorce and separation or the ending a civil partnership is relatively straightforward although the personal effect which this may have on you, your spouse and any children involved can be distressing and even traumatic.
Why involve Family Law Specialists?
Whether you want to know about divorce, separation agreements or termination of a civil partnership. We can provide clear and constructive advice on the legal issues involved and deal with your requirements in an efficient and effective manner.
How your divorce and separation advisor handles the sensitive issues involved may have a significant effect on other aspects of the process, such as making the right arrangements for children and settling financial issues in a way which is fair and protects the needs of any children.
Grounds for Divorce
The only grounds for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This may be established by proving one of the following:
- The adultery of the other spouse (adultery is sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex, even if after any separation);
- The other spouse behaving in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her (known as behaviour);
- Two years’ desertion;
- Having lived separately for over 2 years, with the other person consenting to the divorce or having lived separately for over 5 years (no consent being required).
The rules for the termination of a Civil Partnership are identical, except that there is no ground of adultery (although such behaviour would almost certainly qualify as “unreasonable behaviour”)
You cannot apply for a divorce, or to end a Civil Partnership, until you have been married for at least one year.
The Divorce process – in brief*
The process will usually take about 4 months to conclude and does not require you to attend at court for hearings:
- An application for divorce or to dissolve a civil partnership will be issued by the court and then sent to the other person
- He or she will sign a form to acknowledge receipt of the paperwork and thereafter an application can be made for what is known as a ‘Decree Nisi’ date
- Once 6 weeks have elapsed, an application can be made for the Decree Absolute which is the document which legally ends the marriage or partnership.
*Providing the divorce is not opposed and there are no disputes over payment of the legal costs
Alternatives to Divorce
There are some alternatives to divorce, including Judicial Separation which follows a similar procedure although it does not dissolve the marriage or Civil Partnership.
This may be appropriate where, for example, there are religious beliefs which do not recognise divorce and financial issues still have to be addressed.