How does the process of being granted a divorce in the UK work?

Well, you won’t be able to re-marry until you get a divorce, and any financial agreements will never be final until the divorce is handled. Even if you reach agreements about division of finances, your spouse could ask for more financial provision as part of a divorce procedure decades later. Staying married also means that in the event of your death, your spouse will be your widow, receiving any pension benefits, proceeds of a life insurance policy etc. Getting a divorce in England and Wales is relatively easy so there’s no excuse not to get it sorted.

So you’ve decided you want a divorce, how can you go about getting it? In order to get a divorce, you have to show that the marriage has “irretrievably broken down”, for one or more of five different reasons. Adultery is one of the most popular reasons for this breakdown, with the innocent spouse often finding their adulterous partner impossible to live with. You cannot use your own adultery as a reason, and if you live with the partner for more than sixth months after the last incident of adultery was discovered, you negate your right to use it as the reason for the divorce proceedings. This is true whether you are represented by solicitors Chester services or any other.

Unreasonable behaviour is another reason given for divorce, and this can include a whole range of things. It could include actions which were not deliberate or were unintended, and could include a more general lack of attentiveness. The court will rule whether the behaviour is unreasonable enough to be used as a legitimate reason. In order for desertion to be given as a reason for the breakdown of the relationship, the “deserter” must have left their partner deliberately, against their will, and for a period of at least two years, without a legitimate reason.

The two-year requirement means very few people use this reason for divorce, as abandonment can otherwise fall under “unreasonable behaviour”. Separation can also be used as a reason for divorce if a couple have been living apart for over two years. This can also apply if both parties stay in the same property, although evidence would need to be provided proving that they had been living separate lives for this period of time despite sharing an address.

To initiate the divorce, the person starting the divorce procedure, or the ‘Petitioner’, files a divorce petition with the court. This petition will contain lots of important information including the location in which the marriage took place, names of the couple, their addresses, their employment, their children and the reason for the divorce.

This petition is then sent to the spouse or ‘Respondent’, who is asked to confirm that they are the Respondent, that they accept what is alleged against them and if they intend to defend the proceedings. Next a judge checks the papers, who will have to satisfy him or herself that the Respondent has been served the petition, that the Petitioner is entitled to a divorce and whether the marriage has really “irretrievably broken down”. If the judge is satisfied, he or she will issue a ‘Certificate of Entitlement to a Divorce Decree’.

Once the Certificate of Entitlement has been produced, the court can book the court date for the interim divorce decree or ‘Decree Nisi’. This court hearing does not need to be attended by the couple, unless there is an argument about the legal divorce costs. Once this decree has been pronounced in court, the petitioner has to wait six weeks before asking the court for the final divorce decree or ‘Decree Absolute’. It is recommended to wait until the financial arrangements are sorted before doing so. The court clerk can then process the application and issue the Decree Absolute.

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