Q: Can I get a divorce?
A: A divorce can only be granted under special and very limited circumstances. The first principle of divorce is that you must have been married for over a year before a divorce can be granted. If that criterion is then met, there are a series of circumstances called grounds for divorce.
Q: What is the primary legal reason for divorce?
A: In English law you can only get a divorce if your marriage can not be saved and is, effectively, at an end. In legal language the marriage must have irretrievably broken down. That means that there is no possibility of saving the marriage by the usual means which would be employed.
Q: What is meant by the term unreasonable behaviour?
A: Unreasonable behaviour has a very specific legal meaning in English law. It could include excessive consumption of alcohol or of drugs which are sometimes banned substances. However, the behaviour does not necessarily need to be illegal, or even immoral, to count as unreasonable behaviour. Even quite mild forms of annoying behaviour can become unreasonable over time. It is up to the judge of a court to decide what is meant as unreasonable behaviour.
Q: My wife committed adultery (sexual relations with a person of the opposite sex) a year ago. Can I get a divorce?
A: The simple answer is no. If you lived with your wife for more than six months after finding out about the adultery you can not get a divorce. The courts are strict on this point. This is a legal requirement in cases of adultery.
A: In English law, there are five grounds for divorce:-
If your partner has had sexual relations with a member of the opposite sex, and if this is within the stated period of time as expressed in the law, then this is a ground for divorce. Adultery which was known about by the husband or wfe a number of decades ago would not be accepted as a reason for divorce.
• There has been unreasonable behaviour on the part of your partner. Again, there is a clear and strict legal definition as to what is meant by unreasonable behaviour. Minor disagreements over trivial matters would probably not be counted by the court as unreasonable.
• Desertion. If your husband or wife has left you for a period of twenty four months or more, with no reasonable explanation for this, then this is a ground for divorce. Note that, again, this needs to be classed as reasonable. If your husband or wife is a member of the armed forces, for example, there may be good reason why they have to be abroad which would not count as desertion.
• If you have actually lived apart for two years or more and you both consent for a divorce to take place.
• If you have lived apart for five years or more you can proceed with a divorce even if your partner does not agree.
Q: Who can grant a divorce?
A: Only the court can grant a divorce. There is no other institution in English law that can do so.
Q: What is a divorce petition?
A: In simple terms, a divorce petition is the starting gun for the whole divorce process. A divorce petition is provided to, or ‘filed’ at the court. The process of divorce can then begin.
Q: I have received a divorce petition from the court. What does this mean?
A: If you receive a divorce petition, and an acknowledgement of service form, you should contact us straight away to obtain urgent legal advice.
Q: What about marriages abroad?
A: It is residency, and not where you were married, which determines if you can be granted a divorce. If you, or your partner, live in England or Wales you can be granted a divorce. There are residency requirements which we can advise you about concerning the duration which you need to have been in these countries to count as a resident.
Q: My husband, or wife, may be abusive to me. How can I stop this?
A: In these cases, we may be able to produce a court order which will protect you. In other cases, we may suggest mediation.
Q: What is mediation?
A: Mediation is normally required by courts in cases of divorce. Mediation can help you to sit down with your partner and to sort out the major points of contention after a divorce.
Q: Can solicitors act for both parties in a divorce?
A: No, due to conflict of interest, the same solicitors can not act for both parties. You will have to go to separate solicitors to progress your divorce?
Q: What about our children?
A: This is one of the most difficult issues to consider when it comes to divorce. Mediation can help you to resolve issues concerned with children. However, you may be able to come to an agreement under what is known as the ‘Parenting After Parting’ scheme. In other cases you will have to use the courts.
Q: What about finances?
A: We can help you to come to a mediated settlement on finances. However, we can assist you in court if you can not come to a set agreement.