Every case is different, but here is some general information on how a typical divorce proceeds.
Grounds for Divorce
A divorce may be applied for if the marriage has irretrievably broken down, which is proved by one of five facts:
- Adultery (not applicable for same sex marriages)
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years’ desertion
- Two years’ separation plus consent
- Five years’ separation
A divorce can only be started if the parties have been married for at least a year unless special circumstances apply.
The general procedure is outlined below:
A Divorce Petition is prepared setting out the parties involved and the grounds for the divorce.
- The Divorce Petition will be lodged at the Court and the papers issued and served upon your spouse by post.
- Your spouse will then need to complete an Acknowledgement of Service Form and return this to the Court. If your spouse does not return the Acknowledgement of Service Form it may be necessary for the form to be served personally by the Court Bailiff or other agent.
- Once a copy of the Acknowledgement of Service Form is received by us from the Court we prepare a Statement on your behalf to apply for the Decree Nisi.
- The Decree Nisi is the first stage of the divorce and will be granted in open Court once the District Judge has certified that all procedures have been complied with. There will be no need for you attend that pronouncement unless there is a question of costs to be resolved.
- You will be able to apply for the Decree Absolute after six weeks and one day have passed. In some circumstances we would advise that this be delayed where finances are not resolved. The Decree Absolute will finally and irreversibly dissolve your marriage. This will also end any automatic rights that you have to your spouse’s pension or inheritances.
It is likely that the full procedure should take 3 to 4 months to obtain your Decree Absolute depending on the time it takes your spouse to respond.
You must be aware that you are entitled to cease the proceedings at any time up until the Decree Nisi and in some circumstances until the Decree Absolute. Once the Decree Absolute is granted you will be finally divorced.
There are a number of reconciliation agencies available which may be able to assist you.
Dissolution of Civil Partnership
The procedure for dissolving a Civil Partnership is basically similar to that for a divorce although adultery cannot be used as grounds for dissolution.