Divorce is based upon a no fault system, but it nevertheless remains necessary to establish to the satisfaction of the Court one of the five grounds set out below in support of establishing that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and that divorce proceedings can be taken:-
- Unreasonable behaviour.
- Two years separation with the consent of the other spouse.
- Five years separation.
The spouse issuing the Petition required to commence the divorce proceedings will be known as the Petitioner and the spouse in receipt of the divorce proceedings will be the Respondent.
Once the Petition is issued by the Court the divorce process is commenced and it is then sent to the Respondent who will complete an Acknowledgement of Service indicating (amongst other things) whether he or she intends to accept or defend the divorce proceedings. Defended divorce proceedings are rare these days and should be avoided where possible in the interests of costs.
Assuming (as with the majority of cases) that the Respondent indicates his or her intention not to defend the divorce proceedings, the Petitioner then completes a statement in support of the divorce Petition and sends to the Court an application for the Decree Nisi to be pronounced. This is a very important part of the divorce process (often referred to as the halfway stage) because it is not possible for a court to make an order regarding the finances of the case until the Decree Nisi within the divorce proceedings has been pronounced.
The earliest date for the Petitioner to make application for the Decree Absolute (to finalise the divorce process) is six weeks and one day after Decree Nisi, but we always advise clients to defer the application for Decree Absolute until the finances have been resolved by way of a consent order, or other order of the court. To become divorced before the financial aspects of the case have been finalised could be financially catastrophic for one or other party to the divorce proceedings in the event of the other party’s death or one party’s remarriage.
Sometimes people worry about whether they should be the Petitioner or Respondent within the divorce process. It is generally inadvisable to spend time and money debating with your spouse, or Solicitor, as to which particular role should be adopted by either party. It is better to focus on the divorce process as a whole.
Assuming you have reached the conclusion that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, it is often better to regard the divorce process itself as a means to an end, and as a vehicle to deal with all the important issues flowing from the marriage breakdown, like the financial proposals for settlement and the arrangements for the children, to be finalised within the divorce proceedings.
It is rare to find that the behaviour of one or other party to the divorce process is so ‘gross and obvious’ that it would affect the outcome of the division of the finances between divorcing couples, to the extent that the offending party would be required to give more financial provision to the other party than would otherwise be required under the usual guidance for the division of assets, within the divorce process. Similarly, we strive to keep behaviour out of account when it comes to the children of the family. Just because the parties to the marriage itself have fallen out and have instituted divorce proceedings does not mean that carefully planned workable arrangements for the children cannot be achieved within the divorce process itself.
Obviously we will check with you that there is no particular behaviour which exists which could affect the outcome of either the finances or the children, but we will otherwise help you through the divorce process efficiently, and as painlessly as possible, in order to focus on the more important aspects of your situation.
Here at Breakthrough Family Law we are very conscious that any relationship between couples of whatever gender can be subject to stresses and strains. When the relationship is unable to withstand the difficulties, Breakthrough Family Law can offer help and advice in dealing with the inevitable fallout. This could take the form of advising on the financial consequences of a broken civil partnership or marriage, but we can also assist with resolving issues which may arise over any children who have been created or treated as a child of the family as a consequence of the relationship, whatever form that relationship has taken.
The marriage timeline below demonstrates just how conscious we are here at Breakthrough of the very recent changes to the law on marriage involving same sex couples:-
1753 Clandestine Marriage Act
The first time the State regulated marriage
1836 Marriage Act introduces Civil marriages
Marriage becomes a civil institution as well as a religious one
1949 The main piece of legislation regarding marriage
2004 The Civil Partnership Act
The first legally recognised relationship for same sex couples
2011 Law changed to allow same sex couples to register their Civil partnership on religious premises on a permissive basis.
2012 Public consultation on proposals to enable same sex couples to marry and Government announces commitment to legislate to enable same sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies
2013 Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act becomes law making equal marriage legal
2014 summer. First same sex marriages took place.Call Breakthrough Family law on 01494 776696 for consultations in Beaconsfield, Berkhamsted, Harrow and Mayfair, London.
During weekends or if you have an urgent matter, please call us on 07973 955775
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