The mechanics of obtaining a divorce nowadays are usually quite straightforward, particularly if the couple agree that the marriage is over.
The difficulties tend to lie rather in resolving the related practical issues stemming from divorce such as how to separate, where to live, arrangements for the children and any money matters.
Who can start the divorce proceedings?
Anyone who has been married for over a year provided one or other of the couple has a specific connection to England or Wales. It does not matter where the couple were married.
On what grounds can a divorce petition be started?
There is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To satisfy the Court that there has been an irretrievable break down one of five “facts” must be proved.
What are the five “facts”?
1) Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to continue living together.
2) Your spouse has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue living together.
3) Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of 2 years or more.
4) You and your spouse have been living separately for 2 years or more and your spouse agrees to the divorce.
5) You and your spouse have been living separately for 5 years or more, whether or not your spouse agrees to the divorce.
If the marriage has “irretrievably broken down” and one of the 5 facts applies, what happens next?
This will depend upon your particular circumstances. It is often sensible to try and obtain your spouse’s consent to the petition and to try to reach agreement over the contents of the petition. For example, if your spouse accepts that the petition should be based on unreasonable behaviour, only a brief outline of the particular may need to be given. Not saying all that could be said would not generally prejudice you and may keep matters amicable.
What does the petition actually look like?
Every petition follows the same form. It contains basic information about names, addresses, ages of children and a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. It will also include particulars of the “fact” upon which you intend to rely.