Divorce/dissolution of Civil Partnership

Are you separating and considering a divorce?

Divorce Solicitors (Dissolution of Civil Partnership)

At NJP Solicitors we have a team of family solicitors who are on hand to support you throughout a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. We can help wherever you are based and can meet via video link if required.

What is the ground for divorce, and how do you go about getting divorced?

Free Initial Telephone Call

To book an appointment click the link above, or call us on 01952 618656 or email enquiries@njpsolicitors.co.uk.

Getting divorced

Either party to a marriage may issue divorce proceedings, provided that at least one year has elapsed since the date of the marriage.

The application for a divorce is usually referred to as a ‘petition’. Thus, the applicant is known as the ‘petitioner’ and the other party is known as the ‘respondent’.

The petition will, amongst other things, set out the ground for the divorce.

The ground for divorce

There is only one ground for divorce: that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. However, the petitioner must show such breakdown by proving one of the following (known as the ‘five facts’):

  1. Adultery – That the respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent. The other party need not be named, but the adultery will have to be proved, usually by an admission from the respondent. The petitioner cannot rely upon adultery committed by the respondent if they continued to live with the respondent for six months after they found out about the adultery. Note that in a same-sex marriage the adultery must be between a man and a woman.
  2. Unreasonable behaviour – That the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent. Unreasonable behaviour can be one serious incident or, more often, a series of less serious incidents. Where the parties have lived with each other for a period or periods after the date of the occurrence of the final incident relied on by the petitioner, that fact is disregarded in determining whether the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent, if the length of that period or of those periods together was six months or less.
  3. Desertion – That the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of two years or more. In considering whether the period for which the respondent has deserted the petitioner has been continuous, no account is taken of any one period (not exceeding six months) or of any two or more periods (not exceeding six months in all) during which the parties resumed living with each other, but no period during which the parties lived with each other shall count as part of the period of desertion.
  4. Two years’ separation – That the petitioner and the respondent have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years and the respondent consents to the divorce. A husband and wife are treated as living apart unless they are living with each other in the same household. The parties may be treated as living in separate households albeit under the same roof, provided that they are living completely separate, including sleeping separately, cooking and washing separately and having separate finances. In considering whether the period for which the parties to a marriage have lived apart has been continuous, no account is taken of any one period (not exceeding six months) or of any two or more periods (not exceeding six months in all) during which the parties resumed living with each other, but no period during which the parties lived with each other shall count as part of the period for which the parties to the marriage lived apart.
  5. Five years’ separation – That the petitioner and the respondent have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years, with no requirement for the respondent’s consent. “Living apart” has the same meaning as under two years’ separation and consent, above. As with two years’ separation and consent, in considering whether the period for which the parties to a marriage have lived apart has been continuous, no account is taken of any one period (not exceeding six months) or of any two or more periods (not exceeding six months in all) during which the parties resumed living with each other, but no period during which the parties lived with each other will count as part of the period for which the parties to the marriage lived apart.

Divorce procedure

Divorce is essentially a four-stage process:

  1. The issuing of the petition, setting out the ground for divorce, and the fact(s) relied upon. The court will send a copy of the petition to the respondent.
  2. The respondent should then file an acknowledgement form with the court, stating, amongst other things, whether or not they intend to defend the divorce. (They can also cross-petition alleging, for example, that the marriage broke down as a result of the petitioner’s unreasonable behaviour.) If the respondent does not file the acknowledgement then the petitioner will still be able to proceed with the divorce, provided that they can prove that the respondent has received the divorce papers.
  3. If the respondent does not defend the divorce, the petitioner can apply for the divorce to proceed. The court will then check that the petitioner is entitled to a divorce and, if so, a date will be fixed for the pronouncement of the decree nisi.
  4. Six weeks after the pronouncement of the decree nisi the petitioner can apply for the decree absolute, finalising the divorce (in practice, the petitioner will not usually apply until financial matters have been resolved). If more than 12 months have elapsed since the decree nisi then the petitioner will need to explain the reason for the delay, whether they have lived with the respondent since the decree nisi, and whether any child has been born to the wife since the decree nisi. If the petitioner does not apply for the decree absolute then, after a further three months, the respondent can apply.

Defended divorce

The respondent can seek to defend the divorce, on the basis that the marriage has not irretrievably broken down.

When this happens, the court will fix a hearing to decide whether the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Note that it is very rare for the court to decide that the marriage has not broken down.

Civil Partnership

The law and procedure relating to the dissolution of a civil partnership is similar to the law and procedure on divorce, with the following main differences:

  1. The terminology is different: marriage is ended by divorce, but a civil partnership is dissolved. In the dissolution of a civil partnership the decree nisi is called a ‘conditional order’ and the decree absolute is called the ‘final order’.
  2. You cannot rely upon adultery to prove that a civil partnership has broken down irretrievably (although the fact that the respondent has had a relationship with another person would probably amount to unreasonable behaviour).

Getting help

We can help you through divorce or dissolution of civil partnership proceedings.

To book an appointment click the link above, call us on 01952 618656 or email enquiries@njpsolicitors.co.uk.