The Divorce Process
You’ve tried resolving your issues, attending counseling sessions, even experimented with temporary separation, but nothing has worked. Now the time has come to legally dissolve your marriage. How do you go about getting a divorce? What steps must you take? What challenges or difficulties should you expect along the way?
Divorce can be one of the most traumatic experiences for a person to go through. It can be unexpected until a document arrives naming you in a petition to end your marriage without your ability to control it. Often the petition will blame your conduct for causing the end of the marriage and you simply cannot see beyond the allegations of unreasonable behaviour laid at your doorstep.
At Cordell & Cordell, we make it our jobs to demystify the divorce process and ensure you are informed of the process.
To obtain a divorce, the husband or wife must petition a court for a divorce. Solicitors usually draw up these documents for the Petitioner.
The initial petition often demands much more than the Petitioner expects. Do not worry if your wife claims that she cannot support herself and therefore wants you to pay all solicitor fees. Solicitors often use the initial petition as a wish list.
Divorce petitions can be defended and the Respondent to a petition has 7 days in which to acknowledge and a further period of 21 days after that to file a defence, known as an “Answer” to the Petition.
The Respondent’s Answer is usually brief, admitting or denying each assertion and asking the court to deny the Petitioner’s request.
With the Answer, the Respondent often files a Cross-Petition to set forth his position on the basic facts and the relief he seeks.
Grounds for Divorce
Divorce in the UK is asserted on only one ground or reason: the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage.
The word “irretrievable” has been held by the courts to mean never to be regained or fixed or a marriage beyond repair.
UK divorce courts have typically considered the breakdown of a marriage can be irretrievable if a petitioner can prove to the court’s satisfaction one of five facts.
The facts are:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years desertion
- Two years separation with consent
- Five years separation
One of these facts must be established to the court’s satisfaction. It is important to have solicitor help because a judge can refuse or dismiss a divorce petition or defence of a petition if the judge is not satisfied with either the facts to establish the divorce or the grounds to defend it.
Remember, you are not walking this path alone. Your solicitor will be your key advisor, but many of the pivotal considerations are not within his or her province.
Therefore, it is usually helpful to seek advice from others whose knowledge and judgment you respect, including your solicitor.
Always talk to your solicitor first before making a final decision that could impact your case. Friends and family may help, but they also might pour gasoline on the fire.
Knowing when to tune in also means knowing when to tune out.