How Can I Get a Divorce?
The court will only grant you a divorce if a Judge agrees that your marriage is at an end. The legal term for this is “irretrievably broken down”. You
must satisfy the court that one or more of the following is true as proof that your marriage has ended;
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Desertion for at least two years
- Two years’ separation, if you both agree to the divorce
- Five years’ separation, if there is no agreement to the divorce
Starting The Divorce Off
You will have to complete a Divorce Petition which sets out your grounds for the divorce and gives other information to the court. This document together with your original Marriage Certificate and the relevant court fee need to be filed with your local County Court who will then serve copies of the documents upon your spouse and/or their solicitor. This is known as “serving the Petition”. Your spouse then has eight days to acknowledge receipt of the Petition. Once the Petition has been served, what happens next depends upon whether or not your spouse contests the divorce or agrees to it.
Getting Your Decree Nisi
The next part of the divorce process is known as the “Decree Nisi”. This is the first stage of the actual divorce. The Judge reviews all the paperwork and if he or she is satisfied that there are proper grounds for a divorce, the Judge will grant the Decree Nisi. At this stage, the Judge will also check that all financial issues and arrangements for the children have been agreed or are in the process of being resolved. Very rarely, you may be required to attend court, but many divorces happen entirely by post.
You must wait for six weeks and one day from the date of the Decree Nisi before applying for the final stage of a divorce called the “Decree Absolute”. When you receive the Decree Absolute, you are no longer married and are free to re-marry.
The court will only grant the Decree Absolute when the Judge agrees that all arrangements for the children are now satisfactory. A Judge can make a final financial order before the Decree Absolute is granted, but the order will only come into force after the Decree has been absolute.
Getting Help With The Process
You do not have to use a solicitor. Many couples get divorced without one. But, you will probably need legal advice and guidance if you are not sure whether you have grounds for a divorce, or if your spouse does not agreed to a divorce or if you have children. You should choose your solicitor carefully. You need a solicitor who is experienced in Family Law and is preferably a Member of Resolution (www.resolution.org.uk) and/or The Law Society’s Family Law Panel. Beck Solicitors are Members of both.
You will probably need legal advice about financial issues, even if you agree on how to divide up your property and finances. The process of sorting out the financial aspect of the divorce is important. It is not always the case that property is divided in a 50/50 split. A number of other factors are taken into account when deciding who should get what. The needs of any children will always be the main consideration. Again, Beck Solicitors will be able to guide and advise you appropriately.
If you decide to get divorced without sorting out your finances, this is possible, but unwise. It leaves the door open for your spouse to come back at any time in the future to challenge financial issues. Drawing a line under financial issues at the same time as getting your divorce is the best way forward.