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My Marriage has broken down and I want a Divorce

Coming to the sad conclusion that your marriage is over can be an overwhelming and a daunting decision. To make matters worse, divorce has a reputation of conflict and confrontation. However in reality, this is not always the case.

In order to be granted a divorce, the court must be satisfied that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, thus preventing the courts from being bombarded by divorce applications that are later retracted. In order to prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, you can rely on one of four facts.

These facts include:

  • That the Respondent has committed adultery and the Petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the Respondent
  • That the Respondent has behaved in such a way that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Respondent
  • The Respondent has deserted the Petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years
  • The parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately and the Respondent consents to the divorce and the parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years.

To a lot of people, this may read like a load of jargon, however, when broken down, the application of these facts can be a lot easier to understand than first thought! “Petitioner” simply means whoever applies for the divorce. In most cases, this person normally pays the costs of the divorce, i.e: the  £550 court fee and any further costs. This person also has to decide on what grounds the divorce is going to be petitioned. The Respondent then means the party who is responding to the divorce petition.

In cases where adultery has been committed, there is often hatred and animosity between the parties. Therefore, in such circumstances, unless both parties agree to petition the divorce on the grounds of adultery and are amicable about this, it is recommended to petition on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour of the party who has committed adultery and include that as a ‘particular’ in your narrative. This then allows other instances as to why the marriage broke down to be included into the petition. It should be remembered that if adultery is the grounds for the divorce, then the adultery must be proved!

In most instances, unreasonable behaviour is used. This is a useful fact to rely on because the scope of it is very wide. So long as the particulars of the unreasonable behaviour convince the court that it has caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, anything you wish can be included.

It must be remembered that this process alone does not include dealing with any kind of financial agreement as to the division of assets, matrimonial home, pensions etc. These agreements can only be drawn up in what is known as a Consent Order to make them legally binding. Without a sealed Consent Order from the court, a financial claim can be made against each party at any point. For example, if after the divorce was finalised, one of the parties won the lottery or inherited a large sum of money, the ex-husband/wife would be entitled to make a claim against this money. It is therefore always recommended that financial matters are dealt with during a divorce to prevent this prospect.

Divorce can be a complicated and emotive subject between the spouses and it is always recommended that a solicitor is consulted. Divorce is certainly not always a do-it-yourself task.

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