If you are considering separating from your husband or wife there may be a number of questions that you require answers to and this blog aims to address some of the most common queries.
- Who can instigate divorce proceedings?
Anyone who has been married for a year or more can start divorce proceedings so long as one or the other of you is ‘domiciled’ in England and Wales or has been resident here during the year beforehand.
- What grounds are there for instigating divorce proceedings?
There is only one ground in England and Wales and that is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
- How do I prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down?
By relying on one of five facts:
1. That your husband or wife has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with him/her
2. That your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her
3. That your husband or wife has deserted you for a continuous period of at least 2 years.
4. That you and your husband or wife have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 2 years and your husband or wife agrees to a divorce.
5. That you and your husband or wife have been living apart for 5 years or more whether or not your husband or wife agrees to the divorce.
- Are the divorce proceedings public?
Family matters are usually private. However, the first decree of divorce known as the decree nisi is announced in a court room to which the public and the press are allowed access. The press is able to publish the fact that a divorce has been pronounced. However, as any experienced uncontested divorce attorneys will tell you, the information that it may disclose is however very limited.
- Is there a Court fee? – There is a fee of £550 unless you qualify for fee remission/exemption.
- Will I have to go to court? – If matters are uncontested, then nobody needs to attend when the decree nisi is pronounced: normally, only the names of the parties are read out. However, either party may have to attend if there is a dispute over who should pay for the divorce. If matters are contested, then it may be necessary for the parties to attend Court. You may have to go to court on other occasions if you ask the court to resolve financial issues or you cannot agree about the arrangements for the children but these are dealt with as separate issues.
- Does the decree nisi mean that the marriage has been dissolved?
No, you are still married following the pronouncement of the decree nisi. The marriage is only finally dissolved when the decree is made absolute.
- When can the decree nisi be made absolute?
As the Petitioner you can generally apply for the decree absolute by sending a form to the Court six weeks and one day after the date of the decree nisi. If you do not apply for the decree to be made absolute then your husband or wife can apply for the decree absolute three months after the first date upon which you could have made an application.
- How long will it take?
You should allow 6-8 months. There can sometimes be delays at the Court even if everyone else involved deals with each step quickly
- Does the divorce resolve the financial matters? – In short no. The divorce activates your financial claims and these will need to be resolved either by filing a Financial Consent Order if matters can be agreed or by issuing Court proceedings.
You may wish to obtain some advice about the breakdown of your marriage and we have family law specialists available who can provide legal advice and dispute resolution services, including family mediation. If you would wish to speak with one of our Family Law Specialists, please do contact our friendly team.