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Grounds for Divorce/Dissolution
A divorce/dissolution must be based upon the ground that the marriage/civil partnership is irretrievably broken down. Thereafter an additional fact has to be proved. The five facts on which a divorce/dissolution can be based are:
Desertion (for a period of two years)
Two years separation (with the consent of the other spouse)
Five years separation (the consent of the other spouse is not required)
A dissolution of civil partnership has to be based on the same facts, apart from adultery.
The most common facts on which a divorce is based are adultery, unreasonable behaviour and two years separation. The fact of desertion is rarely used.
In both two and five year separation petitions, the Respondent can prevent the divorce being finalised until the Respondent’s financial position following the divorce has been considered by the Court.
The proceedings are commenced by one person filing a divorce petition in Court; this has to be accompanied by a Court fee of £550. The Petitioner can ask the Court to make an Order that the Respondent pays all of, or a contribution to, the costs and disbursements. The divorce petition is then sent out by the Court to the Respondent. The Respondent has to complete a form called an Acknowledgement of Service confirming that he or she has received the divorce petition and agrees to the divorce on that basis. The Acknowledgement of Service is then sent out to the Petitioner’s solicitors by the Court. At that point the Petitioner can apply for a date for the Decree Nisi. The Court normally takes between two and four weeks to pronounce the Decree Nisi. Following the Decree Nisi the Court has power to make Orders in relation to financial issues. The Decree Absolute, which is the final decree dissolving the marriage, can be applied for six weeks and one day after the date of the Decree Nisi. Sometimes it is inadvisable to apply for the Decree Absolute, particularly where financial issues have not been resolved. It is not advisable to make a Decree Absolute where there may be an issue in relation to one party’s pension, as from the Decree Absolute, a former spouse is not entitled to a widow or widower’s pension.