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Sadly, divorce statistics show that about one in three marriages in the UK
breakdown. When a marriage breaks down the parties must go through a
legal process to end it. A marriage can be ended by a Decree of Divorce or
Nullity. Alternatively, some people wish to remain married but to officially
live apart and so apply for a Decree of Judicial Separation.
Grounds for Divorce
In England and Wales there is only one ground for divorce, and this is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, and, there is no prospect of a reconciliation. The person who starts the divorce proceedings is called the “Petitioner” and the other party is called the “Respondent”.
A Petitioner must prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably by relying on one of the five facts.
The five facts are:
That the Respondent has committed adultery; or
That the Respondent has behaved in such a way that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her. This ground is generally referred to a “unreasonable behaviour”; or
That the Respondent has deserted the Petitioner for at least two years prior to the petition being issued; or
That the Petitioner and Respondent have lived separate and apart for at least two years and they both agree to the divorce; or
That the Petitioner and Respondent have lived apart for at least five years.
Getting a Divorce
If you want to get a divorce, you’ll first need to present a Divorce Petition to your local County Court. It is recommended that you consult with a specialist Family Law Solicitor who will draw up the necessary documents for you to start the divorce proceedings. The main document is called the Petition. It sets out the reason why you are seeking a divorce.
If you have any children under the age of 18, then a Statement of Arrangements form will also need to be prepared. This sets out the details of where the children are to live and who is to look after them as the court needs to be satisfied that the arrangements that have been made for the children are appropriate, in the circumstances.
The Petition and Statement of Arrangements for Children, if appropriate, will then be filed at the Court together with your Marriage Certificate and the court fee.
The court will then send the Respondent a copy of the Petition, the Statement of Arrangements form and an Acknowledgment of Service form. The Respondent will need to complete the Acknowledgment of Service form indicating whether he or she wants to defend the divorce, and, if they agree with the Statement of Arrangements. The document is then sent back to the same court.
Once the court receives the Acknowledgment of Service a copy will be sent to your solicitor by the court. (If the Respondent has indicated an intention to defend the Petition a different legal procedure applies. Your solicitor will then advise you of the available options.)
Family Law / Divorce
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