I want a divorce
Loving relationships can turn sour - even after you've said your vows. TheSite.org helps you get to terms with the legal jargon to make your journey back to singledom easier.
Separation or divorce?
If you want to leave your partner you can either separate (live apart, yet still be legally bound by marriage), or file for a divorce (formally ending the marriage contract). Separation can be made formal by a court order. You cannot get a divorce in the first year of a marriage.
On what grounds can a divorce be granted?
As the law stands, there are five ways for one or both of you to establish why you can no longer remain husband and wife:
- If both of you have lived apart from each other for at least two years, and both of you want the divorce.
- If you've been separated for five years, even though one doesn't want to get divorced.
- If one of you deserted the other at least two years ago.
- If one spouse has behaved unreasonably towards the other, (through physical abuse, for example, or because of a problem with drugs, alcohol or gambling)
- If one spouse has committed adultery (had a sexual relationship with someone else).
How does the whole process start?
To start divorce proceedings, one spouse must apply for a petition at the County Court or, in London, the Divorce Registry. This is basically a form they fill in which briefly spells out the grounds for wanting a divorce. It is usually made through a solicitor, although can be done by one spouse alone, although not in the first year of marriage.
Will I have to go to court?
Once a petition has been made for a divorce, you will have every opportunity to sort your affairs without having to turn to a judge to make decisions for them. In some districts you may be referred to the court welfare service, or to a local out-of-court service that can offer a course of mediation. If both partners can agree over finances, and arrangements for their children (if they have any), then a court case will more than likely be unnecessary.
Decree nisi and decree absolute:
When the District Judge is satisfied that the appropriate arrangements have been made, that all info is correct and that the marriage has been broken down and is past saving, s/he'll grant a decree nisi (the first stage in obtaining a divorce), six weeks later the person seeking a divorce can apply for a decree absolute. When this is granted the marriage comes to an end.
The law in Northern Ireland
Here, the law only recognises one basis for divorce, and that is if the marriage has irretrievably broken down - which basically means nothing can be done to save it. Also, couples cannot begin divorce proceeding unless they have been married for at least two years.
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