To divorce, you must show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. This will be based on one of five ‘facts’ – the official ‘grounds for divorce’.
You must also have been married for at least a year. If you have been married for less than a year, you can separate instead.
Similar rules apply for ending a registered civil partnership.
If you are simply cohabiting, this would be a separation and it can happen as and when either partner wishes, but you should seek advice if you have joint financial obligations with your partner.
The five facts of divorce are:
- Adultery: Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to continue living with him or her.
- Unreasonable behaviour: there can include domestic abuse, infidelity or persistent unpleasantness.
- Desertion: Your spouse deserted you against your will, and you have been living apart for at least two years.
- Two years’ separation: You have been separated for at least two years, and you both agree to the divorce.
- Five years’ separation: You have been separated for at least five years.
Where possible, you should agree between yourselves who will petition for the divorce and what the grounds for divorce will be.
Finances will need to be agreed as a result of the marriage breakdown. Interim agreements can be made subject to a final agreement.
You could close joint bank and credit card accounts, if you fear they may be abused by your ex-partner.
If your spouse is the sole owner of the family home, you can register your home rights to prevent the home being sold without your agreement.
The first priority is to look after the welfare and financial needs of any children. The parent who no longer lives with the children will normally provide financial support, known as child maintenance.
The other key factors into account include:
- Each spouse’s income and other financial resources.
- Any pension entitlements are also taken, into account.
- Each spouse’s financial needs.
- How long you have been married and how old each spouse is.
The right agreement for you will depend on your circumstances and objectives. As a starting point, you should both fully disclose your financial positions to each other.
Once you have reached an agreement, you should apply to the Court for a Consent Order. This allows the court to check that the agreement you have reached is fair to both parties. It also limits the ability of either spouse to make a claim against future income, capital and acquired assets.
If you cannot reach agreement between yourselves, you will need to apply to the Court for a Financial Order.
We can explain the process to you during our initial consultation and take you through each stage of your divorce.
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