Common divorce questions Part 1

Lind Hunter, head of Family Law at Rowlinsons Solicitors, has put together a list of some of the most common questions asked by client’s going through a divorce.

What are the grounds for divorce?

There is only one ground for divorce/dissolution in England and Wales, and that is the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship. To prove to the Court that the relationship has broken down irretrievably, you must prove one of the following facts. (Note that facts 1-5 are available to married couples whilst facts 2-5 are available to civil partners):-

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. Two years’ separation with consent
  5. Five years’ separation

If you want to discuss petitioning for divorce or dissolving a civil partnership, or if you want to organise a free, initial no obligation consultation, please contact Rowlinsons Solicitors by telephone on 01928 735333 and ask to speak with the family department.

What is Decree Nisi?

Decree Nisi is the first stage of a divorce process. In dissolution proceedings for a civil partnership, the term is a conditional order. Once all of the necessary documents have been filed at Court, and all of the procedural points have been met, if the Court is satisfied that the Petitioner has proven the ground for  divorce/dissolution, the Court will then grant the first stage of the process. This is called the Decree Nisi/conditional order. This does not legally end the marriage or civil partnership, but is the first stage in the process. An application for a Decree Absolute, or final order in dissolution proceedings, is needed to formally end the relationship. If you need help with divorce proceedings, or if you want to organise a free, initial no obligation consultation, please telephone Rowlinsons Solicitors on 01928 735333 and ask to speak with the family department.

What is Decree Absolute?

Decree Absolute is the final stage of a divorce process. In dissolution proceedings for a civil partnership, the term is a Final Order. The Decree Absolute/ Final Order legally brings an end to your relationship. It is important to seek independent legal advice about the effect of such an Order. If you need help with divorce proceedings, or if you want to organise a free, initial no obligation consultation, please telephone Rowlinsons Solicitors on 01928 735333 and ask to speak with the family department.

How long do I have to wait for Decree Absolute?

After the decree nisi/conditional order is pronounced the Petitioner cannot apply for the final stage of decree absolute/final order until 6 weeks and 1 day have elapsed. The application for the final stage does not have to be issued immediately after the expiry of the period of 6 weeks and 1 day. The Petitioner can apply any time in the first 12 months after the date of decree nisi/conditional order. Once more than 12 months has elapsed since the pronouncement, the Petitioner can still apply for the final stage but they will also have to complete a statement, asking the Court’s permission to apply out of time. In the statement the Court needs evidence that the parties have not got back together, that no further children have been born to either party, and the reason why there was a delay in making the application.

The Court considers the requirement that you wait 6 weeks and 1 day before applying for the final stage as a “cooling off period” to allow the parties to consider whether they do want to legally end the marriage/civil partnership. It is not possible to shorten this cooling off period and finalise the proceedings before this 6 weeks and 1 day period has elapsed.

If the Petitioner does not apply for the decree absolute/final order the Respondent would be able to apply for it 3 months after the 6 weeks and 1 day period has elapsed. The Respondent would need to apply to the Court with an application to request the decree absolute/final order is granted. The Court will list the application for a hearing to decide whether to grant the order or not, and both the Petitioner and respondent will be notified.

If you need help with divorce proceedings, or if you want to organise a free, initial no obligation consultation, please telephone Rowlinsons Solicitors on 01928 735333 and ask to speak with the family department.

What is Judicial Separation?

Judicial Separation 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. To obtain advice from Rowlinsons, please telephone 01928 735333 and ask to speak with the family department.

What is Judicial Separation?

The term ‘Common Law Marriage’ has been used in England and Wales to refer to an unmarried, usually heterosexual, cohabiting couple. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as ‘Common Law Marriage’ and this does not confer any legal rights on a couple who live together. Couples who are married or enter a civil partnership have certain legal rights that they can rely on. There are no similar rights for couples who live together, or believe they are in a ‘Common Law Marriage’. It is important for couples who live together to get independent legal advice to understand their rights and responsibilities. To obtain advice from Rowlinsons, please telephone 01928 735333 and ask to speak with the family department.