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:
- Adultery (your spouse has had an affair).
- Unreasonable behaviour (your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot be expected to live together).
- Two years separation with consent (you and your spouse have been living apart for 2 years and your spouse also wants a Divorce).
- 5 years separation (you and your spouse have lived apart for 5 years; your spouse's agreement to Divorce is not required).
- 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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
Please contact Lauren Rigby at our Wallington office on 020 3551 8053. Click here to read more about the services we offer.