Your spouse has asked you for a divorce or you want a divorce what do you do next? For some, your spouse asking for a divorce can come as a complete shock and for others it has been agreed between you that the marriage is over. Whatever the reason, the first step is to seek independent legal advice from a specialist family solicitor who is a member of Resolution.
Resolution is a membership of over 6,500 family lawyers and other professionals committed to a constructive resolution of family disputes. The members follow a Code of Practice that promotes a non-confrontational approach to family problems. The members consider solutions and the needs of the whole family but particularly the best interests of the children. You will be able to find Resolution family solicitors in your area through their website, which is www.resolution.org.uk
Your solicitor will be able to guide you through the steps that follow, discussing with you whether you want to try and save the marriage, would Relate counselling or marriage guidance be an option for you?
If you have both decided that the marriage is over, and you have been married for more than 12 months, then the only reason for a divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage but there are different grounds for a divorce and you have to prove to the Court that one of the following has occurred and the marriage is over:
This can cover a range of incidences from domestic abuse and domestic violence, to less serious things such as no longer sharing a marital bed, arguing all the time. Following the case of Owens v Owens, the unreasonable behaviour has to be severe enough for the Court to accept that due to your spouse’s behaviour, you can no longer reasonably be expected to live with them.
This can only be used if a third party has been involved and the person who has committed that adultery is willing to admit it to you and to the Court. You can name the third party in the divorce petition, but we would usually advise our client’s not to name the third party as it can make matters more complicated, drawn out and expensive.
Two years' separation with both parties’ consent
You must have been separated for at least 2 years preceding the divorce petition and both of you must agree to a petition being issued on this basis. You can be living separately but under the same roof. If this is the case, the Court will want you to explain how you have been living separately such as separate bedrooms, eating separately, doing your washing separately.
Five years' separation
You must have been separated for at least 5 years before issuing the petition. There is no requirement for both parties to agree to a petition being issued.
When your spouse has deserted you for a period of at least 2 years without your consent, it requires the mental intent to divorce during the two-year period and this can be difficult to prove.
Once you have decided which is the most appropriate ground for divorce, your solicitor will write to your spouse and provide to them a draft copy of the divorce petition, once it has been approved by you. They will be advised to seek independent legal advice and if they have any comments to make about the petition, they are asked to respond with those comments within 14 days. Once the wording of the petition is agreed, it will then be filed with the Court.
Your spouse shall receive a copy of the petition, together with an Acknowledgement of Service form. They will be required to complete, sign and return the Acknowledgement form to the Court confirming whether they wish to defend or consent to the divorce. If they are not defending the petition you will then need to complete a Statement in Support of your divorce petition and make an application for Decree Nisi (the half way stage of the divorce proceedings). Once your Decree Nisi has been pronounced you must wait a further 6 weeks and 1 days before you can apply for your Decree Absolute finally bringing the marriage to an end.
Whilst you are dealing with the divorce proceedings it is important to think of the financial aspects of the divorce proceedings. In order to advise you properly your solicitor will advise that both parties exchange full and frank financial disclosure at the outset about all of their assets and liabilities. This enables the solicitor to have a bigger picture of the matrimonial assets and advise you properly about a suitable financial settlement. The divorce proceedings and financial settlement are dealt with along side each other and the Decree Absolute bringing the marriage to an end is not usually applied for until a financial settlement has been reached and a binding order is approved by the Court.
Each marriage and divorce are different, and it is important to seek legal advice on separation to enable you to make informed decisions about whether you want to end the marriage, how to divide the family assets including, properties, savings, investments, pensions, debts and income to ensure a fair and reasonable outcome.
At HMG we offer all of our new client’s and initial fixed fee appointment of £100 + VAT in either our Oxford or Bicester offices.
HMG Law, Family and Divorce solicitors in Bicester and Oxford.
Please call Christina or Alexandra on 01869 252244