The decision to divorce someone is not easy to make, and is not a decision to be taken lightly. The breakdown of a relationship is usually a time of high emotional distress and therefore you should be sure that it is beyond repair before you file for something as final as divorce. However, if divorce is the only option then this article may be of use. The purpose of this article is to cover the basics of divorce and equip readers with everything they need to know to start the divorce process.
The first thing to note is whether you are eligible for divorce. This may seem silly, but there are certain criteria that need to be met before a divorce can be granted. You need to show that the relationship has broken down irretrievably, for this to be the case, you need to be able to prove one of the following:
Adultery – Your husband or wife has committed adultery and you find it impossible to stay together. The easiest way to prove this is if the guilty party admits it. If this doesn’t happen it can be tricky however it is something to discuss with your solicitor. You must file for divorce within 6 months of finding out that the adultery has occurred, doing so after this period does is not usually considered sufficient grounds for divorce.
Unreasonable behaviour – this is quite a difficult criterion to describe, as it is so broad. You must be able to describe the reason(s) you husband or wife is impossible to remain with. When making an application on this basis it is important to try and remain reasoned and not let your emotions take control. Having your solicitor proof read your application is usually a good idea.
Desertion – Desertion is somewhat easier to define than the previous point. You can file for divorce under grounds of desertion if your husband/wife has left for a period of 2 or more years without prior agreement and without giving any/good reason.
No-fault divorce – No fault divorce can occur when you and your spouse have been living apart for 2 years or longer. To file for this divorce method both parties must agree that a divorce is necessary
5-year separation – this is the same as the above, however, you need to have been living apart from your spouse for at least 5 years. You do not need your husband/wife to agree to this. However, they can attempt to block the application under grounds that it would cause major hardship, financial or otherwise.
The divorce process can take a long time. In a straightforward, non-adversarial case, an optimistic estimate could be 6 months. This all depends on the court system, however.
If a civil, non-adversarial divorce is what you and your soon-to-be-ex partner are after, it may be worth investigating mediation. Mediation involves an independent third party to act as a neutral negotiator during the separation process. There are numerous benefits to mediation. The most quoted one is reduced conflict, because the two parties talk through the separation the process is less adversarial by nature. This can be particularly beneficial if children are involved. Mediation also allows for more privacy, it’s a confidential process and allows for privacy that a courtroom simply doesn’t. Finally, the costs associated with mediation are far lower than the costs associated with the traditional divorce process.
For more information on Mediation, visit the Mundays Family Mediation website. This article is not not written by or on behalf of any professional law firm and is meant as guidance only, it is not legal advice.