Applying for a Divorce
If you believe that your relationship has broken down then divorce is the procedure to legally end a marriage between spouses, whereas dissolution is the procedure to legally end a civil partnership between same sex couples.
You can only start divorce/dissolution proceedings after you have been married/in a civil partnership for a period of one year. There is only one ground for divorce/dissolution and that is the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship. An Application for divorce can be started by one party, or by both parties jointly. A statement is required in the application form to confirm that the Applicant/s believe that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Where an application is issued by one Applicant only, the application will be sent out the Respondent to respond to the application. In the case of a joint application, both parties submit the application jointly and the fees are paid for by agreement between both parties.
It is no longer possible to defend or stop a divorce, unless there is an argument that the issuing Court does not have Jurisdiction to hear the case, there is a dispute about the validity of the marriage, or where the marriage has already been legally ended.
Once the process has been complied with to issue the application, and any responding party has responded, a conditional order can be granted. This is the first stage of the divorce, however the parties remain legally married until the final Order is granted bringing the marriage to an end. One or both parties can apply for the final Order, which must not be granted before 20 weeks from the date the original application is issued.
If you wish to discuss applying for a divorce, or you want to speak further about what is involved in the process, please telephone 01928 735 333 and ask to speak with the family department.
Are there any alternatives to divorce/dissolution?
Yes. We understand that not everyone will want a divorce/dissolution, whether that is due to religious, personal or financial reasons. Two alternatives to consider are:
This is a Court process which legally formalises your separation, but does not affect the legality of your relationship so you remain legally married/in a civil partnership. It is still possible to resolve some financial matters within judicial separation proceedings but there are some key differences between judicial separation and divorce/dissolution, and expert legal guidance would be needed before choosing this option.
This is a formal document, in the format of a Deed, that you and your spouse/civil partner can enter into to set out the circumstances of the separation. Again, this agreement does not legally end the marriage/civil partnership, and divorce/ dissolution proceedings would still need to be issued if you later decided you wanted to legally end the relationship.
The agreement can be useful for couples who are unable to apply for a divorce/dissolution at the time of separation, or who do not wish to straight away. It is important to be aware that a Deed of Separation Agreement is not 100% binding and cannot prevent the Court from making such financial orders as it sees fit in any later divorce/dissolution proceedings. The Court in those proceedings could decide whether the terms of the Agreement should be upheld in full or in part. Alternatively, the Court could decide due to a number of factors that the agreement is not binding, and the Court could make such financial Orders as it sees fit.
Due to these factors, it is important to take independent legal advice about the terms and effect of a separation agreement before deciding to pursue this route. To obtain advice from Rowlinsons, call us today and ask to speak with the family department.