Spouses who are contemplating separation may wish to initially consider if reconciliation is appropriate in their particular circumstances.
If they believe that their marriage has come to an end, they should ensure that they each obtain, independent legal advice. The Law Society has an accredited panel of Family Law Solicitors known as the Law Society Family Law Panel (www.lawsociety.org.uk), and Resolution operates a similar accreditation scheme (www.resolution.org.uk). It is of course the parties’ choice who they decide to instruct to act on their behalf, and there is no obligation on either party to choose a solicitor from either panel.
A number of solicitors offer free initial consultations or fixed fee consultations. Some Solicitors have Public Funding Franchises and may be able to offer parties public funding (formerly known as legal aid) depending on party’s individual circumstances.
The Solicitor will also require the spouse to provide ID, to establish who they are and to confirm their address.
A spouse is required to wait at a complete one year from the date of their marriage prior to presenting a divorce petition at the Court. Most Divorces proceed on an uncontested basis, without usually the necessity for either party to attend Court in relation to the divorce proceedings. Occasional divorce proceedings are defended. A Family Law Solicitor will be able to discuss these issues in more detail.
There is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has broken down irretrievable. The person who starts the divorce proceedings is known as ‘the Petitioner’ and the other party is called ‘the Respondent’.
To satisfy the court that there has been an irretrievable breakdown the Petitioner must prove one of the following five facts:
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 reasonable be expected to live with the Respondent.
That the Respondent has deserted the Petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the start of the divorce and the Respondent consents to a Decree being granted.
That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the start of the divorce and the Respondent consents to a Decree being granted.
That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately before the start of the divorce.
A spouse will be able to discuss in detail the circumstances of their marital breakdown with a Family Law Solicitor prior to deciding which fact they wish to cite in their divorce petition.
The Solicitor will require the original marriage certificate or a certified copy (not a photocopy).
The procedure and the completion of all the relevant forms in relation to a divorce can be complicated and a Family Law Solicitor will be able to advise with regard to this and the likely duration of the divorce proceedings.
A Family Law Solicitor will also be able to advise with regard to the division of marital finances and any issues regarding contact and residence of the children. It is to be remembered that no two cases are alike; individuals should not rely on hearsay from well meaning friends and family, but should obtain independent legal advice from a Family Law Solicitor.
The above has been provided for general information purposes only; it does not represent specific advice. It is not a substitute for independent legal advice from a qualified family law solicitor who has an opportunity to personally obtain your full instructions and the circumstances of your case. No Liability can be accepted for any reliance on the information provided. Alexander Christian thus cannot any accept any responsibility for any act or omission as a result of the above or any financial or other detriment howsoever arising.