Divorce in England & Wales
Divorce in England and Wales is not as complicated as you might think and in fact is the most straightforward part of the Court process. The divorce is actually a separate process from financial matters and children.
People simply do not realise that financial and children proceedings are "ancillary" to the divorce and therefore run along side the main divorce suit.
It is therefore not necessary under current Legislation for the Finances and children to be concluded before the final Decree is granted, although it would of course be an ideal to achieve this.
The decree may be delayed if there are serious questions over children or if to grant a decree would disadvantage an opposing spouse.
We will take a look at the divorce proceedings and then conclude with a brief explanation of Judicial Separation proceedings which are very similar.
If you are considering undertaking your own divorce we can do this for you with our LegalPacs. We give you all the forms, completed and checked together with a guide and free e-mail or telephone support until you have obtained your Decree Absolute. All you have to do is put the forms in the post, the rest is done for you.
We are also members of the Which Web trader scheme to ensure you get the best customer service available.
We are here to talk to you if you need help before or after ordering our divorce service.
Divorce and Judicial separation
Either party can apply to the court in England or Wales for the marriage to be dissolved, provided one or other is domiciled here or has been habitually resident here for at least one year before the application to the court is made. It is not possible to start divorce proceedings within the first year of marriage.
Before the court will dissolve the marriage, evidence has to be given proving the ground for divorce.
There is one ground for divorce: that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
The evidence is set out in the petition: the spouse who files the petition is called the petitioner, the other is called the respondent.
Evidence of the irretrievable breakdown has to be given by proving one of five facts;
Adultery - that the respondent has committed adultery, and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent
Unreasonable behaviour - that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;
Desertion - that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a period of two years;
Two years' separation - that the parties have lived apart for two years and the respondent consents to a divorce;
Five years' separation - that the parties have lived apart for five years.
If a couple live together for more than six months after either the last act of unreasonable behaviour or the discovery of the last act of adultery, then that evidence cannot be used for divorce proceedings. Similarly, a period of separation would be discounted if the couple live together again for a period of six months.
How long will it take?
The length of time it takes to get a divorce, from beginning to end, varies from court to court and in each case. It is impossible to predict exactly how long it will take, because during the proceedings problems may arise which cause delay. At best, it will take from four to six months. The time it takes, and the stress involved in the process, can be greatly reduced by keeping on top of dates and going to the court yourself to lodge documents.
If you use a Solicitor make sure they have applied for the various stages when they arise.
Financial and child-related matters have separate timescales of their own.
The divorce has two main stages. The first, the Decree nisi , is granted by the Court if it is satisfied that the grounds for divorce have been established. The divorce is not final until the Decree absolute ; care should be taken not to apply for the decree absolute until pensions and life assurance have been considered It is always possible to stop divorce proceedings, or to have the decree nisi rescinded. Only the decree absolute is irrevocable.
This is mainly used for religious purposes and is not a divorce. It merely acknowledges the parties have legally separated and enables financial orders to be applied for.
The procedure is the same as divorce except the Decree of Judicial Separation is granted at the equivalent of Decree Nisi. If you need a Judicial Separation contact us for more information on how we can help