So you have finally had enough, you feel there is no way of reconciling your differences and you have decided to divorce. But how do you go about it? Divorce in England and Wales can be achieved through a fairly simple process these days. In many cases there is simply no need for the acrimonious court proceedings where lawyers battle out the respective positions of husband and wife. The fact that solicitors do not necessarily have to be involved also makes divorce proceedings less costly.
The first consideration has to be, can you divorce? You need to have been married a year (in a marriage recognised by U.K. law) and the relationship must have broken down. Ultimately, you will be asking the court to legally end your marriage. This can best be achieved when you and your husband or wife have agreed that you need to divorce, who will look after any children and the manner in which those children will be maintained.
You have to decide upon what grounds you are going to divorce. The grounds are as follows:
- Adultery – your husband or wife had sexual intercourse with another person;
- Unreasonable behaviour – violence, threats and intimidation, alcohol or substance abuse, refusing to provide money for housekeeping;
- Desertion – your husband or wife has left you;
- Living apart for two years where your husband or wife agrees to the divorce;
- Living apart for five years where your husband or wife doesn’t agree with the divorce.
It’s quite likely that, whilst your husband or wife acknowledges to themselves that your marriage is over, they may not be prepared to admit it publicly. Also, although you might also not quite see eye to eye on the grounds for divorce or arrangements regarding your children and your financial affairs going forward, you may not be too far away from each other’s position. Mediation can help you reach agreement, so that when you submit the papers to court they can see that.
You make the application to court using form D8, this asks for personal details, the grounds you are seeking a divorce under and more information about the circumstances pertaining to that. You pay a fee of £550.
You will be sent a notice of proceedings which you must complete. You and your husband or wife will be issued with an acknowledgement of service. This is their opportunity to tell the court whether or not they agree to the divorce. They could choose to disagree, called defending the divorce, or begin their own proceedings.
If you have come is far and there are still issues that you and your husband or wife are unable to reconcile, then you are likely to require legal representation from a solicitor or, possibly a barrister. If you know that your divorce is not going to be straightforward and you will need legal representation to speak for you in court, you may decide, in the first instance, to engage a Divorce Barrister. Choose your legal representative carefully, they should be a specialist in divorce proceedings. They will help and advise you and work to get he outcome you seek. If you cannot afford legal representation and do not qualify for legal aid you could look to your local law centre for advice.
If your husband or wife does not defend your divorce petition, you can apply for a decree nisi, which is basically a statement from the court that they can see no reason why you can’t end your marriage. Six weeks and one day following the decree inside you can apply for a decree absolute which will legally end your marriage.