Grounds For Divorce

Grounds for Divorce
The only 'ground' for divorce in England and Wales is that 'the marriage has irretrievably broken down'.

This needs to be proved in court by evidence in writing (the divorce petition) of one of the following facts:

1. Adultery
2. Unreasonable Behaviour
3. 2 years Desertion
4. The couple have lived apart for a period of 2 years and the other spouse consents to a divorce
5. The couple have lived apart for a period of 5 years (in which case there is no consent required)
Most divorces are undefended and are granted on either Adultery or Unreasonable Behaviour.

The Divorce Procedure
Filing the Petition
This is the request to the Court to grant the divorce and details the facts about both parties and the reason for the request. The person requesting the divorce is known as 'the Petitioner' and the spouse is referred to as 'the Respondent'. In the case of a third party being cited within the petition (i.e. in the case of adultery) they are referred to as 'the Co-Respondent'.

If there are children under 16 or over 16 and still in full time education a 'Statement of Arrangements' for the children needs to be completed detailing the proposed arrangements for them after the divorce.

Service of the Petition
Once the Court has checked through the documentation and are satisfied that it complies with all the necessary requirements, they officially issue the divorce petition and send it to the Respondent along with the Statement of Arrangements.

Acknowledging Service of the Petition
The Respondent should return the Acknowledgement of Service to the Court within 7 days, indicating whether or not they wish to contest the divorce proceedings. If they do want to contest the proceedings, they will have to file another form called an 'Answer' within 28 days of receiving the Petition.

Confirming the Facts in your Petition
The Court will send a copy of the Acknowledgement of Service form to the Petitioner who must then swear a legal statement under oath, known as an 'Affidavit', confirming the facts in the original Petition are true and correct.

Pronouncement of the Decree Nisi
If the Court are happy with all the documentation they receive, they will set a date when the Decree Nisi will be pronounced in Court. The parties are still not divorced at this stage as a Decree Absolute has to be issued to bring matters to a conclusion.

Application for the Decree Absolute
43 days after the Decree Nisi is pronounced, the Petitioner can apply for the Decree Absolute. There is a standard application form with a fee. Once this has been granted, the parties are officially divorced.

Receipt of the Decree Absolute
Once the Decree Absolute has been granted and sealed by the Court, the parties are officially divorced. This document should be retained in a safe place.

All the information on this site is provided for guidance only, you must always speak to a qualified Solicitor for accurate information regarding your own personal situation.

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