The number of divorces in the England and Wales has risen dramatically over the last twenty years. Divorce proceedings can be long and complex involving disputes and divorce solicitors, or short and simple with both people in agreement.
A divorce begins with one half of a couple filing a Partition of Divorce. (S)he will fill out the Partition of Divorce stating the details of the marriage and reasons why the divorce is necessary. This is then presented to a Divorce Court, who will sort through these papers and send them to the other half of the couple. During proceedings the person filing for divorce is referred to as the petitioner with the other persons referred to the Respondent.
There are certain conditions for a divorce to be able to take place. Couples divorcing in England and Wales (things work differently in other parts of the UK). The couple can be originally from anywhere in the world but must live in England or Wales, and have a permanent address in England or Wales, when divorce proceedings begin. A Judge will need to decide whether the marriage has irretrievably broken down, which it must have done if the divorce is to be granted. Of course, different Judge’s will have different views as to what constitutes an irretrievably broken down marriage. As a rule of thumb one of the following reasons must exist:
The respondent has committed adultery.
The respondent has behaved unreasonably.
The couple have been separated for more than two years and mutually agree to a divorce.
The couple do not mutually agree to a divorce but have been separated for more than five years.
Adultery or unreasonable behaviour will need to be proven if the divorce is being contested. There are other reasons beside these where a Judge may consider granting a divorce.
Once a Judge has decided that a divorce is viable the divorce papers will be sent to the respondent. Within eight days the relevant papers will need to be sent back to the divorce court. Here the respondent must state his or her intentions and whether or not they intend to defend the divorce. Should they wish to defend the divorce they have 29 days to send the details of the defence to the court. Whether or not the divorce will be granted is sometimes decided in court, but this is rare now days.
Eventually the petitioner will apply for a decree nisi. This is issued to say divorce proceedings are under way, but does not mean it is yet final. To get to this stage a Judge would have reviewed the paperwork and decided when the decree nisi is granted. One it has been granted divorce proceedings have officially begun. Once divorce proceedings have been completed a decree absolute is granted. This is the stage where the divorce is final.
Andrew Marshall (c)