What are the grounds for divorce?

There is still only one ground for divorce, irretrievable breakdown. The Government may have confirmed that I intend to bring in a no-fault divorce system but we are still stuck with the old laws from the 70's. In order to show your marriage has broken down, you must rely on one of five facts (that everyone mistakenly refers to as the grounds for Divorce) namely:

  1. The other party's unreasonable behaviour;
  2. The other party's adultery;
  3. The other party's desertion;
  4. Two years separation and the other party's consent to the divorce; or
  5. Five years separation

Does my partner need to know that I have come to see you?

Your partner does not need to know that you have sought legal advice, any meetings are strictly confidential between you and ourselves. However, if a child protection or well-being issue arises then we may need to refer that to the children's services. I have only done this once in 20 years with the consent of my client who was in extreme danger herself.

Do you need to have been married for a minimum period before you can get a divorce?

Yes. You need to be married for a minimum of one year before you can apply for a divorce. You can apply for a judicial separation at any time after marriage, however, a decree of judicial separation does not end a marriage and is usually only appropriate in very limited circumstance. Again, I have only done a few Judicial separations.

How much does a divorce cost?

It is difficult to estimate costs in a family matter, however, we do offer a fixed fee of £500 +VAT for a straightforward divorce. The court fee is currently £550 on top of our fees.

The costs of proceedings about children or financial issues can be substantial. We would try and give you an estimate of costs and keep you updated should the situation change.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

Due to the backlog of the Courts at the moment even a relatively straightforward divorce can take between 8 – 10 months provided that both parties process the court papers promptly. If the divorce is contested or an agreement cannot be reached on related matters then the process can take over 12 months. It is possible to get divorced before a financial agreement has been finalised but whether this is recommended depends on the facts of the case.

What are the stages of a divorce?

  • Divorce Petition –The person seeking a divorce (the Petitioner) files the Petition at court.
  • Notification to the Respondent – the court will send the petition to the Respondent (the other person).
  • Acknowledgement of service form – the Respondent replies to the Petition by sending a completed acknowledgement of service form to the court.  Ideally, to get matters moving the respondent would send a copy directly to the Petitioner as well.
  • Confirmation of acknowledgement sent to Petitioner – the court will send the acknowledgement of service form to the Petitioner.
  • Respondent's opportunity to oppose – if the Respondent opposes the divorce, they have 21 days to complete and send to the court an answer stating their reasons. If they fail to file the answer, the Petitioner can proceed with the divorce as below. The Respondent can also start their own proceedings against the other person by way of a cross petition.
  • The Petitioner applies for Decree Nisi – the application for Decree Nisi and statement in support of the Petition are sent to the court together with the Respondent's acknowledgement of service form.
  • Decree Nisi granted – the Judge will consider the Petition along with the application for Decree Nisi and decide whether they are satisfied that the grounds for the divorce have been met, if so the judge will grant a certificate of entitlement to a decree with a date for Decree Nisi to be pronounced.If the Respondent has opposed the divorce, there is a court hearing. Following that, the judge may grant the Decree Nisi or send both parties a notice of refusal to state why the divorce cannot take place or if further information is required.
  • Petitioner applies for Decree Absolute – six weeks after the Decree Nisi has been granted, the Petitioner can apply for the Decree Absolute to end the marriage. If the Petitioner does not apply then a further 3 months later the Respondent can apply for the Decree Absolute.
  • Decree absolute granted – the marriage is dissolved.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.