What is the process of getting a Divorce in the UK?
SUSHMA AWTANI >
Senior Immigration and Divorce SolicitorWed 28 August 2019
Sushma Awtani is a Senior Immigration and Divorce Solicitor based in our London Moorgate office.
Divorce in the UK
You may be thinking of starting a divorce to end an unhappy relationship, or you may be on the receiving end of a divorce petition. The issues involved in a divorce and separation may range from those covering any children you may have to dividing up your assets; it can be difficult and distressing to deal with.
To apply for a divorce, you must be married for at least twelve months. As a starting point, I would like to offer you the following guide:
Decide the reasons for divorce
The marriage or civil partnership must have irretrievably broken down and this can be proved by one of five reasons:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- A period of separation in excess of two years if both parties agree
- A period of desertion for two years
- A period of separation in excess of five years, where it does not matter if one party objects or not
The court process
If it’s you who is starting divorce proceedings, you are known as the ‘petitioner.’ Your spouse is the ‘respondent’.
The petitioner files a petition at court with the original marriage certificate and the issue fee/fee exemption form. A copy of the application and an ‘acknowledgement of service’ form will be served on the respondent who will have seven days to respond to say if they intend to defend the divorce. If undefended, the petitioner will apply for the decree nisi as a paper exercise (no court hearing is needed). If defended, the petitioner will apply for directions for trial and a court hearing date.
The pros and cons of applying for a decree absolute before having a final financial order
When it comes to the decree absolute, I tend to advise clients not to apply for it until all the finances have been settled and the consent order has been approved by the court.
If one party obtains a decree absolute and then remarries, he/she may lose some or all of their rights in any subsequent attempt to claim from their former spouse. So, whatever else happens, you should not remarry (at least not without careful thought!) until a financial settlement has been finalised by way of a sealed order of the court and having allowed time for an appeal and service of an appeal to elapse – in reality another 28 days.
A Get is a Jewish divorce document which is required by Jewish couples who wish to obtain a divorce. Even if a civil divorce is granted by the court, many problems may occur if a Get is not obtained.
The Recognition of foreign decrees
An overseas divorce obtained by means of proceedings shall be recognised under section 46(1) of the Family Law Act 1986 if it is:
- Valid in the country in which it was obtained and
- At the relevant date either party was one of the following:
- Habitually resident in that country
- Domiciled in that country
- A national of that country
Divorce is rarely a straight forward process. For legal advice to protect yourself and your family, or to understand the cost of a divorce in the UK, please contact Sushma Awtani on 020 7400 7725.
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