Divorce is commonly regarded as a complicated process, costing both parties in time as well as money. However, with the right advice at an early stage and a willingness to cooperate, time, stress and costs can be significantly reduced .
What are the legal grounds for divorce?
In order for either party to petition for divorce, the couple must have been married for at least one year. Prior to this, if the circumstances permit, the marriage can be dissolved by way of an annulment or by proving that the marriage was void or voidable.
The only ground for petitioning for a divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. One of five factors must then be cited:
- 2 years separation by consent
- 5 years separation
- Unreasonable behaviour
If the parties have decided to terminate the marriage, the first step should be to speak to a specialist divorce solicitor in regards to the situation. This will be beneficial towards understanding the legal position and the options available.
What is the divorce process?
When petitioning for divorce, a brief summary of the facts of the case must be set out in the petition together with the full details of the marriage. Once filed at court, it is then the Respondent’s opportunity to reply.
- Should the Respondent fail to respond or cannot be found then there are still options. A process server can be appointed and an application for deemed service filed, or the Petitioner can seek an order for substituted service whereby the papers can be served via email for example or where all efforts have been made to find the Respondent an order to dispense with service can be considered.
- If the divorce is agreed or an alternative order has been obtained then the Petitioner can apply for Decree Nisi, if it is not agreed then defended proceedings could ensue, although these are rare as they are costly and stressful and the view is that if one party wants the marriage to be over there is little point in arguing that it should not be.
Once Decree Nisi is pronounced, the Petitioner must wait a period of at least 6 weeks and one day before Decree Absolute can be applied for. This period of time is set down as the perfect opportunity for the parties to settle any matrimonial finances. If these are agreed then they need to be formalised into an order and sealed by the Court. If they are not, then negotiations could commence and may even result in an application for financial proceedings.
Once Decree Absolute is applied for and granted, the divorce is complete.
Should the Petitioner fail to apply for Decree Absolute, then after 3 months the Respondent can make their own application.
Decree Absolute is final, therefore the parties are free to remarry. Once a party has remarried, however, they cannot make an application for matrimonial financial relief, this is why finances should be dealt with before the line is drawn under the entire process.
Will I have to go to court?
Not necessarily. Depending on both parties’ ability to cooperate and communicate calmly, it may be possible to reach an agreement through Alternative Dispute Resolution. As members of Resolution, our divorce solicitors in London are committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes outside of court. if it is determined that the case is suitable for ADR, there will be options of Mediation, Collaborative Law or Arbitration. If the parties cannot work together to resolve matters amicably, it may be necessary to commence court proceedings. At this stage expert advice on strategy and representation at court is key to protect the party’s interests.