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Explaining The Divorce Process

As much as we would all love our marriages to last forever, just as they seem to in the fairy tales, this isn’t always the case.

For some couples, there can be serious reasons as to why the relationship has broken down, for others it can be as simple as both parties are no longer happy together and would be better apart.

Whatever the reasons for considering filing for divorce, the process can appear complicated and difficult to navigate for those who have never been in this situation or ever dealt with legal proceedings before.

With the professional guidance and expertise of a divorce solicitor, this process can be navigated to achieve a positive end result.

Explaining The Divorce Process

Here is some of what you can expect from the divorce process.

What does ‘Divorce’ mean?

The word divorce is only referring to the end of a marriage contract.

This is a legal and official process which will bring about an end to your marriage in the eyes of the law, allowing both parties to remarry if they wish.

The process of a divorce does not include the division of property or arrangements for children. These will be separate legal processes.

The grounds for divorce in England and Wales

In England and Wales, there are currently 5 grounds for divorce or reasons for why your marriage has broken down. These are as follows:

  1. Adultery – one party has committed adultery and the other party finds it intolerable to live with him/her.
  2. Unreasonable behaviour – one party has behaved in a way that the other cannot reasonably be expected to live with the other party.
  3. Two years separation with consent. – the parties have been living apart for at least two years and they agree to a divorce.
  4. Desertion for 2 years – where one party has deserted the other
  5. Five years separation – the parties have been living apart for at least five years and consent of the other party is not required

Steps of the divorce process

Once a decision has been made to begin divorce proceedings to end your marriage, there are several steps to the process you should be aware of:

  • Check your eligibility for a divorce.
  • Start the divorce proceedings by completing a divorce petition. A divorce petition asks for information about your spouse and any reasons for divorce. For example, if adultery is your reason for divorce, a third party can be named in your divorce petition. An initial consultation with a divorce solicitor will explain this process.
  • Apply for decree nisi – this is granted when the court is satisfied with your reasonings for divorce, meeting the legal and procedural requirements to obtain a divorce. However, this is not the final decision on the matter. After you have received decree nisi, you will then need to wait six weeks and one day before your divorce solicitor can apply for a decree absolute – finalising your divorce proceedings.
  • Decree absolute – this is the final order which will conclude your divorce process and confirm the end of your marriage. This will be received as a certificate which is a legal document confirming the end of your marriage allowing you to freely marry again, if you wish

Your divorce solicitor will likely recommend finalizing any financial agreements and arrangements for children before decree absolute is applied for.

Explaining The Divorce Process

A No fault divorce

The UK government brought in plans to change the current divorce laws in April 2019, affecting the rules for applying for divorce in England and Wales.

Introducing what is known as a ‘No fault divorce’, this will allow couples to proceed with divorce proceedings without the requirement of citing one of the five grounds for divorce, mentioned above.

This is due to come into effect by April 2022.

This means couples will also be able to apply for a divorce together, without the need for one to blame the other.

Many see this as a step in the right direction for modern divorce laws in England and Wales, potentially removing some of the stress and emotional pain that divorce can cause couples and others involved in their marriage.

Allowing couples to move on from a divorce sooner, without becoming caught up in the process of blaming each other for the breakdown of their marriage.

How long will a divorce take?  

You can typically expect the divorce process to last around 5-6 months.

Often this can be held up by other legal issues such as financial proceedings and finalizing an arrangement for children.

When considering divorce proceedings, it is important to review the potential financial consequences of this process.

Divorce can have an effect on a number of financial aspects of your life:

  • Income
  • Capital
  • Pension fund

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