What do I have to do to get a divorce?
To prove that you have grounds for a divorce, you will have to demonstrate to the court how your marriage has broken down irretrievably. In other words, you must show that one or both of you feel that you cannot continue to be married to one another. If you have been married for at least one year, either partner can apply to have the marriage dissolved. This application is called the Divorce Petition and the partner who sends the Petition is called the Petitioner. The other partner is called the Respondent. During the process of the application, the Petitioner will have to prove one of the following grounds for divorce:
Adultery is a common ground for divorce
Adultery is one of the most common grounds for divorce in the UK. It is defined for this purpose as your partner having sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex to them. Same-sex partners cannot use adultery as grounds for divorce in the UK due to the definition of adultery for this purpose. If you have lived with your partner for 6 months or more after you found out about the adultery, you cannot use it as grounds for divorce unless the adultery is continuing.
Unreasonable behaviour is another ground for divorce
Unreasonable behaviour means that your partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot be reasonably be expected to live with him or her. This can mean any number of behaviours such as physical, verbal, emotional or financial abuse; drunkenness or drug taking. The petition will ask for the main reason, the first instance, the most serious instance and the most recent instance. As with adultery, if you have continued to live with your partner for 6 months or more after the first instance you cannot use it as grounds for divorce unless the behaviour has continued.
Desertion for a minimum of two years
Desertion for this purpose means that one partner has left the other without their agreement and with no acceptable reason for doing so. To be used for grounds for divorce, the period of desertion must be 2 years or longer.
My partner has left me – Two years’ separation from your partner
If you have been separated from your partner for 2 years or more and they agree to a divorce. This is sometimes called a ‘no-fault’ divorce and does not require any proof of wrongdoing by either partner. For this to apply, you can have periods of living together as long as those periods do not add up to six months or longer and there has been a period of at least 2 years living separately.
Five years’ separation from your partner
If you have been separated from your partner for 5 years or longer. This differs from the two years’ separation in that your partner does not have to agree to this and cannot defend this petition. They can, however, ask that the court not grant the final decree due to a major hardship, e.g. Major financial difficulties.
How long does a divorce take to go through?
The length of a divorce will vary depending on the court and the details and complexity of each individual case. Cases can run for a considerable amount of time and cause a lot of stress if you are not practised in dealing with complex family issues. It is often best to have an experienced family solicitor assist in divorces where you foresee any kind of dispute with your partner, complex financial issues or if children are involved and their care arrangements are disputed. Having an experienced family solicitor will ease the stress and worry of dealing with often complex legal situations yourself and sometimes emotional and distressing disputes with your partner.
What is an annulment and is that the same thing as a divorce?
An annulment is a way to end a marriage, similar to a divorce, however there are different legal or religious reasons why you may want to get an annulment instead of a divorce.
Usually this is because the marriage was not valid.
What information will the divorce solicitor ask me in my first meeting?
JMR Solicitors are always empathetic and treat divorce matters as sensitive matters. We understand that you might be upset to discuss details about the break-down on your marriage, but we will need to know a few things to help you along the way. It’s better to know upfront what you might be asked so here are some pointers:
- You will be asked to discuss the reasons for the breakdown of your marriage
- You will be asked for a date of separation
- You will discuss details about your family structure, such as children in your family
- You will also discuss the assets you both hold, income, savings and pensions.
Please consider the first meeting with your divorce solicitor as a way to gather facts so that we can negotiate and find resolutions that work in your best interests.
What if my ex-partner and I cannot come to an agreement on reaching a resolution on the divorce case?
Your solicitor will explain different methods for you both to try and come to a resolution regarding your divorce case. Such methods could be negotiation with their solicitor, collaboration, mediation, arbitration or as a final resort, litigation. Having a clear understanding of the process involved in each is a good start. Your designated solicitor from JMR Solicitors will be able to help.
What is a no-fault divorce?
Divorce laws in England and Wales changed in April 2022 with the introduction of no-fault divorces. But what is a no-fault divorce, you ask.
A no-fault divorce is when a couple can claim that their marriage has broken down, without the need for one party taking all the blame.
Basically, the no-fault divorce removes the obligation to offer evidence of ‘conduct’ or ‘separation’. Instead, you are required to give a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership.