You cannot begin divorce proceedings within a year of getting married. There is only one ground for dissolution and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

To prove the breakdown, you will have to show that either:

  • Your spouse has committed adultery; or
  • Your spouse’s behaviour is such that you can’t reasonably be expected to live with them
  • Your spouse left you at least two years ago without good reason (desertion); or
  • You have been separated from your spouse for two years and they agree to the dissolution or for five years, whether they agree or not

Procedure for divorce
The person applying for the dissolution is referred to as the petitioner and the other party is the respondent. You will need to complete a petition setting out which of the above ‘facts’ you are relying on and supplying enough detail to satisfy the court that you have proved the fact. The court will normally process your petition within 10 days, although this does vary from court to court.

Defending proceedings
It is rare for proceedings to be defended as both parties generally accept that the marriage has broken down. The court will send a copy of your petition to your spouse, along with an acknowledgement of service, which they are required to return indicating if they do intend to defend the proceedings.

Decree nisi
The next step is to file a statement in support of divorce, which confirms the content of your divorce petition and asks the court to grant a conditional decree of divorce, known as a decree nisi.

Decree absolute
You can apply for decree absolute 6 weeks after decree nisi has been pronounced. However, if you have financial matters to deal with, it is sometimes best to wait until these have been settled, either by agreement with your spouse or by a court order. This is dependent on your particular circumstances and we may need to advise you in more detail.

How long will it take?
Divorce proceedings usually take between 4 and 6 months, but will depend on whether you or your spouse delay for any reason or the degree absolute is deferred until financial matters have been finalised.

Many people find it helpful to discuss the arrangements for children in mediation, when both parties meet jointly with an impartial mediator to discuss the issues and, hopefully, find solutions that are acceptable to both. If you would like to consider mediation please contact us for more information.

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How we can help

Where you have other issues to deal with relating to children, property, finances or pensions, it’s in the best interests of you both to try and reach agreement on them without applying to the court. In this situation, we can advise you and help you to negotiate the right agreement for you and if agreement is not possible, we will guide you through the process of making an application to court to deal with the issues.

If your marriage has broken down but you do not wish to divorce for any reason, we can advise you on judicial separation instead.

Divorce is a complex subject and this information is only intended to provide you with a general guide.

If you would like more information about how our family law experts can help you with your divorce, or you just want a confidential chat about your options, contact our friendly, supportive team today.



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