What are the grounds for Divorce in the UK?

Under the Law of England and Wales there is only 1 ground for Divorce and that is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. In order to prove this, petitioners can rely on 1 of the following 5 facts:

  1. Adultery (your spouse has had an affair).
  2. Unreasonable behaviour (your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot be expected to live together).
  3. Two years separation with consent (you and your spouse have been living apart for 2 years and your spouse also wants a Divorce).
  4. 5 years separation (you and your spouse have lived apart for 5 years; your spouse's agreement to Divorce is not required).
  5. Desertion (your spouse has deserted you for at least 2 years)/

What is the Divorce Process?

There are 4 main stages of the Divorce Process:

  1. The process is started by you lodging a petition with the Court. The petition is a document that sets out the details of the marriage, yours and your spouse's details and the reasons for your Divorce. Your Solicitor will prepare the petition based on your instructions and it is then sent to Court for issuing with the Court issuing fee of  £550. The Court then allocate it a case number and the issued petition is sent out to your spouse.

  2. Your spouse will receive the issued petition along with and acknowledgement of Service which they will need to complete. This is to say that they have received the petition and that they accept the Divorce. They can then file with with the Court once completed.

    If your spouse accepts the Divorce, this is known as an uncontested/undefended Divorce. If they respond saying that they do not want a Divorce, then this will be a contested/defended Divorce, although this is very rare. If your spouse does not return the Acknowledgement of Service, you can ask that the Court Bailiff serves the papers on your spouse in person (this will incur an additional fee).

  3. Once the Acknowledgement of Service has been received by the Court they will then send this our to your Solicitor who can then apply for your Decree Nisi. It is at this point that the Court will review the petition and, if they are happy with it, they will issue the Decree Nisi.  This does not mean your Divorce is final, it simply means that the court agrees that the reasons you have cited for the Divorce have been approved.

  4. 6 weeks and 1 day from the date Decree Nisi is pronounced, your Solicitor can apply for your Decree Absolute. This is the final decree of Divorce and bring the marriage to an end. If you do not make an application for Decree absolute within 3 months, your spouse can then apply for it. 

What does Divorce mean?

Being divorced means that you are free to legally re-marry. Matrimonial finances are dealt with separately to a Divorce. A Decree absolute will not automatically end the financial claims that you and your and your spouse may have against each other by virtue of your marriage. It it therefore a good idea to resolve the issue of matrimonial finances simultaneously with your Divorce.

We understand the importance of dealing with these matters sensitively, and we have a specialist matrimonial team on hand to help you at your own pace.

If you would like any more information about our family law services, please do contact us.

Please contact Lauren Rigby at our Wallington office on 020 3551 8053. Click here to read more about the services we offer

Solicitor in Family and Child Law, Anesha Pavaday has shed some clarity on some common questions relating to Non-Molestation Orders.

Who can apply for a Non-Molestation Order?

You can apply for a Non-Molestation order to protect you from abuse against an 'associated person'. An associated person is any of the following:

  • A spouse or ex-spouse.
  • A civil partner or previous civil partner.
  • A person you are, or have cohabited with.
  • A person you have a child with.
  • A person you have, or had parental responsibility for the same child with.
  • A relative.
  • A person you live or have lived in the same household with, but not as a tenant, lodger or employee.
  • A person you are, or have been in a significant intimate relationship with.
  • A person you are involved in the same family proceeding with (for example divorce or children proceedings).

 How long does a Non-Molestation Order last for?

The order lasts for a fixed term, which is typically 6 months or a year. However, it can last until a further order of the court is served or in some cases, indefinitely.

Does a Non-Molestation Order show on a DBS check?

The order does not show on a DBS check unless it has been breached. A breach of a Non-Molestation Order is a criminal offence and the offender can face a fine and/or imprisonment or up to five years.

Do you have to pay for a Non-Molestation Order?

There is no court fee for a Non-Molestation Order, but there is a small fee involved for a Solicitor to prepare your application and represent you at Court. If you are on low income, you may be eligible for legal aid to cover the cost of your legal fees. If you are not eligible for legal aid, we do provide competitive and affordable prices. You can contact us here to receive a quote.

What is the difference between a Restraining Order and a Non-Molestation Order?

A Restraining Order and a Non-Molestation Order both offer protection from domestic abuse. The main difference is that a Non-Molestation Order is granted by the Family Court and a Restraining Order is granted by the Criminal Court. 

How to remove a Non-Molestation Order?

You can remove a Non-Molestation Order by applying to the Court to discharge the order.

How is a Non-Molestation Order delivered?

A Non-Molestation Order will not offer protection until your abuser is aware of the order. To ensure the abuser is aware of the order a process server is instructed to hand deliver a copy of the order to the abuser. This is so we can be sure he/she has received it and is aware of the terms of the order.

Anesha Pavaday
Anesha Pavaday

If you are looking for advice on applying for a Non-Molestation Order, or you have had one served against you, please contact Anesha Pavaday in our Eastbourne office on 020 3551 8090.

What organisations can assist you?

If you are suffering from domestic violence, there are places that can offer their support. In the case of an emergency, we would always recommend you call 999.

Refuge are a charity who run the UK Domestic Abuse Helpline which is open 24 hours a day. In addition there is a program called 'safe spaces' which enables women to have support resources available to them in public places. Male victims of abuse can also contact Mankind for support. They offer a confidential helpline as well as other support for victims. 

Forced marriage is illegal and can cause both physical and emotional trauma to victims. Shaheen Marriott, Family and Child Law Solicitor, answers some frequently asked questions on the issue that is Forced Marriage below.

What are the signs of forced marriage?

It can be hard to spot, as arrangements are often made in secret. This is to ensure that the victim does not know they are being set up to be married. Common indicators of risk can be:

  • A young person being removed from education or being prevented from engaging with further education.
  • A sudden 'engagement' to somebody who has not been previously mentioned or is a complete stranger.
  • A sudden family holiday abroad.
  • A young person appears to be 'watched' or overlooked by their family. For example, they are collected from school, prevented from going out or having free access to things such as a mobile phone or the internet. 
  • a young person may present a change in their personality whereby they appear withdrawn or depressed/anxious to peers.

What is a forced marriage called?

A forced marriage is sometimes referred to as an 'arranged marriage'. However, a forced marriage is where an individual is given no choice about the marriage.

An arranged marriage can be done with the individual's knowledge and consent to the arrangement, and can involve the individual's families and social groups when selecting a potential partner.

A forced marriage is a marriage which takes place against your will. It can be a marriage that you agreed to, but only due to having no choice in the matter or made to do under pressure from family, social or religious groups. 

What countries have forced marriages?

Countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa are typically linked to the concept of forced marriages, however, it is important to be alert to the issue as it can (and does) take place in Western Countries as well.

What is a Forced Marriage Protection Order?

It is an order made to protect a person who has been, is at risk of, or is being forced into a marriage against their will. The order will impose restrictions against family members to prevent them from being able to carry out the marriage. It can also put in place other measures, such as the surrender of passports.

It is usual practice to serve the Court Order on the Passport Office to that any attempt by the family to remove the victim from the Country can be prevented. Orders can be made as part of other family court proceedings or as an application, and often are considered without the respondents being told in advance. This is to ensure that the order is there to protect the person at risk first. Breaches of these orders can lead to arrest and prosecution. 

What is the Forced Marriage Act?

You can obtain a Forced Marriage Protection Order under the Family Law Act 1996 and the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007. These acts were brought in to give the Court the power to make orders to protect people at risk of forced marriage. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 made forced marriage a criminal offence in England, Scotland and Wales. 

If you have any further queries on the above, or are looking to obtain legal support and guidance, please contact Shaheen Marriott based in our Sevenoaks office on 020 3551 8443. Alternatively, you can contact us here.

Shaheen Marriott
Shaheen Marriott

What Organisations Can Assist You?

There are many organisations that are able to provide support and assistance to victims of forced marriage. If it is an emergency, it is always advised to call 999 in the first instance.

You can also contact the Forced Marriage Unit as well as charities such as Refuge and Childline for further help and guidance. 

We understand that relationships can break down, and whilst many couples may separate, they may not know that they can do so legally. Partner and Collaborative Lawyer, Georgina Earle-Hutton shares some insight into Legal Separation below.

1. What is a Legal Separation?

The correct term for a legal separation is judicial separation. A judicial separation is a legal process whereby a married couple or parties in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership can legally separate without divorcing or dissolving their civil partnership. 

2. How long does a Legal Separation last?

Unlike divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, there are no time limits. Therefore, parties can apply for a judicial separation at any time after their marriage or registration of their civil partnership and can continue to be judicially separated until either party applies for a divorce. 

3. Why would you get a Legal Separation instead of a Divorce?

There are a number of reasons why parties to a marriage or a civil partnership may not want to get divorced. These may be because of:

  • Religious reasons.
  • The parties have not been married for more than a year; a prerequisite for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership.
  • Either party may not be certain that their marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down.
  • The process is quicker unlike divorce proceedings or civil partnership proceedings.  If a judge is satisfied that a party is entitled to a judicial separation they will grant one immediately, as opposed to a party having to wait 6 weeks and a day after pronouncement of a decree nisi or a conditional order.

4. What are the disadvantages of a Legal Separation?

The main disadvantage of a judicial separation as opposed to a divorce is that the parties are still married. This means that in the event of either party finding a new partner, they will be unable to remarry until decree absolute has been pronounced, or in the case of a civil partnership, the civil partnership has been dissolved. 

Although the Court can make financial provision orders for parties to a judicial separation in respect of their assets unlike in divorce proceedings or civil partnership proceedings, the Court is unable to make any orders in respect of either parties pensions. Therefore a parties pension which may be a valuable and considerable matrimonial asset would remain the sole property of each party. That asset could be drawn down, cashed in or dissipated, thereby defeating a claim of a party at a later date in divorce proceedings. 

5. What costs are involved in a Legal Separation?

Our family specialists offer a 1 hour fixed fee consultation in which our specialists will be able to provide you with further legal advice. They can advise you in relation to considering whether a judicial separation is the appropriate option for you, or whether a divorce would be more appropriate to your situation. 

Please contact us on 020 3551 8500 so that we can make a mutually convenient appointment for you or contact us here to see how we can assist you.

Georgina Earle-Hutton
Georgina Earle-Hutton
Partner & Collaborative Lawyer - Family & Child Law

Nicola Jones-King, as Head of the Division, is very pleased to announce that the team have been shortlisted for this national award, in recognition of what the team stands for and the high standards of legal service everyone continued to provide to clients throughout the pandemic lockdown and through the merger of the two businesses. She says “these have been challenging months in many ways, with the new pressures of remote working and juggling family and work within a changing world where most client work began virtual overnight, and with huge rises in care and domestic abuse clients needing help.  That the team had been able to adapt so well to new ways of working, is a testament to the hard work and dedication of every member, and the true team spirit and cooperation between everyone that makes this team the best group of family lawyers, who are a joy to manage and being nationally recognised, is justly deserved” 

As part of Taylor Rose TTKW Ltd, an ABS, we advise clients across a wide range of services.  Taylor Rose McMillan Williams is a multi-branch law firm with 32 offices, covering Cumbria to Sussex, with headquarters in Peterborough and London. 

The specialist Family team undertake publicly funded certificated work and private Family work: from Abduction, Adoption, Care, Child Arrangements, Divorce, Forced Marriages, FGM issues, Family Law Act applications, Financial Remedies through to Wardship.  The team has a strong reputation in Care Proceedings, with nine Children Panel Solicitors; Nicola Jones-King, Amarjit Ryatt, Sheila Gulliver, Sarah, Newens, Barbara Macdonald, Charlotte Collier, Elen Davies, Lisa Ursell, Keeley Lengthorn; with two others working towards their applications. And works with a number of domestic abuse organisations, providing Pro-Bono Legal advice; Family Justice Centre (FJC), Bromley One Stop Shop, Chelmsford Law Clinic, Anglia Ruskin University, Next Chapter, FLOWS, The Link Café, Safer Places and Southend-on-Sea Domestic Abuse Projects (SOSDAP), who refer Clients directly as we will go the extra mile for each one.

It is a testament to the team that we are being sought out as the firm that can ensure protection for victims the quickest, having not allowed the constraints of working remotely to impact the quality of service provided to those who are in desperate need. This period has shown the enhanced skills and dedication of our team, whose commitment and innovation, has allowed our clients to be supported throughout.

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