It can be difficult to accept that your marriage has ended. This legal guide is intended to provide information on divorce law and procedure. When marriages fail, there are often other issues that must be addressed, such as child custody or financial issues. Children and the law: when parents separate and divorce, by Rights of Women, is another legal guide that may be useful. A guide to making financial arrangements after a divorce.
In this guide, the term “spouse” refers to your husband or wife.
Who is eligible for divorce?
You or your spouse can file for Divorce whether you have been legally married for at least one year. A few other foreign or religious legal marriages are not recognised by English and Welsh law. Please consult our legal guide if you are unsure whether or not you are legally married. A marriage guide or call the Rights of Women’s legal advice line – see Useful contacts.
Foreign marriages can be annulled in English courts if there is an appropriate connection, such as if one or both of you live in England or Wales or are both from England or Wales. It is possible that you and your spouse have ties to more than one country and that you have the option of divorcing here or abroad. Choosing the right country to divorce in is critical because it can have a significant impact on how the marital finances are divided. If you believe your spouse intends to file for divorce in another country, you should seek family law advice immediately because you may wish to file for divorce in England or Wales before they do. This is referred to as a petition race.
Your marriage has irreparably broken down, which is the only ground (reason) for divorce. Irretrievably means that the marriage has irreparably broken down and cannot be repaired.
In order to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, you must state one of five facts in your divorce petition:
1. Adultery – either your husband or your wife has committed adultery with another woman.
Adultery is defined as sexual relations between a married person and a person of the opposite sex who is not their spouse.
If your husband or wife admits to adultery and agrees to the divorce, the court is likely to accept the divorce. If your spouse refuses to admit to adultery, you must provide evidence of the adultery to the court.
In addition to the adultery, you must demonstrate that you find living with your spouse intolerable, either because of the adultery or because of some other behaviour. The term “intolerable” refers to the fact that you can no longer bear being in the marriage.
If you continue to live with your husband or wife for 6 months after discovering their adultery, you cannot use that incident of adultery as grounds for divorce.
In your divorce petition, you get the option of naming the people who did adultery to your husband or wife (the “co-respondent”). However, if you do this, you must serve the divorce papers on that person as well as your spouse. If they do not cooperate, this will result in additional costs and delays.
2. Unreasonable actions – your husband or wife has acted in such a way that you cannot live with them in a reasonable manner.
Unreasonable behaviour can range from domestic violence to the withholding of love and affection. In general, you will need to provide four or five examples of your spouse’s behaviour. It may be beneficial to include the first, worst, and most recent instances of unreasonable behaviour during the marriage.
It may be more difficult to prove to the court that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with your spouse if you continue to live as a pair for 6 months since the last event of unreasonable behaviour.
3. Desertion – your spouse has been unfaithful to you for at least two years.
You must demonstrate that your spouse left you without your consent and without a good reason for at least two years in order to end your relationship. Because this is difficult to prove, it is uncommon to use this fact.
4. Two years of separation with consent – you and your spouse have been separated for two years and both agree to divorce.
You do not have to have lived in separate homes, but you must have had separate lives, such as eating and doing household chores separately and sleeping in various beds. Your partner must agree to the divorce mostly on basis that you have been separated for two years in a row. Before filing your divorce petition with the court, it is a good idea to see if your spouse will agree.
5. Five years separation – you and your spouse have been separated for five years in a row.
Even if your spouse does not consent, you have the right to file for divorce if you have been separated for 5 years. Your spouse can only object to the divorce if they can demonstrate that ending the marriage would cause severe financial or other hardship.
Is it legal to divorce on religious grounds?
A religious divorce may result in the dissolution of a religious marriage. To end a legal marriage in England and Wales, however, you must seek a legal divorce through the courts.
What happens if I divorce in a different country?
Divorces that take place outside of England and Wales are not automatically legalised. This means that a divorce may be valid in the country where it occurred, but it may not be recognised in England and Wales. This means you could still be married, and if you remarry before legally ending your first marriage, your second marriage will be null and void. You’d also be committing bigamy, which is both a civil and criminal offence. The rules governing the recognition of overseas divorces are complicated and vary depending on which country your divorce occurred in. As a result, we strongly advise you to seek legal advice from a mediator. For more Details Contact Us and you can see FEE here.