We are all touched in some way or another by the spectre of divorce whether that is via a relative, work colleague or more worryingly the prospect that it might arise in our own lives. But what exactly is divorce and how does it work?
Divorce, put simply, is the ending of a marriage. The ending of a civil partnership is known as ‘dissolution’ but follows the same process as divorce with a few exceptions.
The press often refer to the “quickie divorce” in the celebrity gossip columns but can it really be that quick and easy?
There is only one procedure for obtaining a divorce and to an extent the length of time that it can take to conclude can depend upon many factors. These factors very much depend upon whether each party does what is required of them at the appropriate time or whether delays creep in. The time is extended if court proceedings are issued (some courts having administrative backlogs of up to 8 weeks), and often legal advice in other areas, such as financial settlement, can delay the issue of the final decree absolute.
The only ground for divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.; This a legal phrase that really does not help us understand what is required to obtain a divorce. Practically, someone wanting a divorce needs to be able to rely on one of five available ‘facts’:
(i) adultery, or
(ii) unreasonable behaviour of the other spouse,
(iii) desertion (which is very rarely used), or
(iv) and (v) the time periods having elapsed as required ie two years separation if the other spouse consents or five years if no such consent is forthcoming.
The relevant fact is then set out in the divorce petition. Very often the content of the divorce petition is a matter of some discussion between spouses as is whether such petition includes a claim for costs to be paid by the other spouse.; These matters are best agreed in advance of presenting the divorce petition to the court to avoid dispute later which could lead to increased costs.
Arrangements for children need to be agreed at the same time as preparing the divorce petition.; The court has a duty to consider the welfare of the children on every divorce and will not allow the divorce to proceed until they are satisfied that suitable arrangements are in place.
The divorce process is a simple paper procedure with neither party generally needing to attend court. What can become complicated, protracted and sometimes costly are the financial proceedings which accompany the divorce itself.
Once the court is satisfied that the procedural and legal requirements are acceptable it will pronounce a decree nisi being the initial stage of the divorce. Only after a further period of at least 6 weeks and one day has elapsed will the court then declare a decree absolute dissolving the marriage.
Whether a divorce is quick or not is therefore determined by the circumstances and the parties involved.
But, a note of caution – whatever your wishes as to the conclusion of a marriage it is wise to talk to an experienced family lawyer who will provide invaluable advice and guidance.
At Jarvis Family Law LLP we can explain the process and how it would work with your unique circumstances – ‘Talk to Us’.
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