Barnstaple divorce solicitor, Grace Clark, explains what is involved when you get divorced
This article was written and published before the introduction of the new no-fault divorce rules. You can find up to date details of the new divorce process here.
What is divorce?
Starting with the basics, divorce is the legal process which ends a marriage, replacing your marriage certificate with a Decree Absolute.
The legal process is started by the issue of a divorce Petition at your nearest regional processing centre.
Do I need a solicitor to get a divorce?
If you wish to deal with the divorce process yourself then you are free to do so. Some people prefer to appoint a solicitor to handle everything for them. Others ask us for help with completing the paperwork to ensure that the online process proceeds as smoothly as possible, so you have various options and fixed fee services are available.
Barnstaple divorce solicitor Paul Jordan is always happy to discuss legal fees at the outset. And if you would prefer to deal with the process yourself you can find details of how to proceed with an online divorce here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-divorce.
What are the grounds for divorce?
You must be married for at least one year before you can issue a Petition for divorce. Judicial separation can be issued within 12 months of your marriage, but you should ensure you take specialist legal advice before considering this option.
The only ‘ground’ for Divorce is that the marriage/civil partnership has ‘irretrievably broken down’. That breakdown must be evidenced by one of 5 ‘facts’:
- That your spouse has committed adultery with a person of the opposite sex and that you find it intolerable to live with him/her;
- That your spouse/civil partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her;
- That your spouse/civil partner deserted you at least 2 years ago;
- That you and your spouse/civil partner have lived apart for at least 2 years and he/she agrees to a Divorce; or
- That you and your spouse/civil partner have lived apart for at least 5 years.
The Court must have “jurisdiction” i.e. the legal power to decide whether it can end the legal relationship. This is usually decided on the basis of where you live.
Do I have to attend court to get a divorce?
If you can agree about financial support, property and the arrangements for any children, you may not have to attend a court hearing at all.
Do I need my marriage certificate to get divorced?
You must provide an official certified copy (not a photocopy) of your marriage/civil partnership certificate when you start divorce proceedings. Barnstaple divorce solicitor Paul Jordan explains:
“You can get a copy of your marriage certificate from the Office of the Registrar of Birth, Deaths, Marriages and Civil Partnerships in the district you were married/entered into a civil partnership or, from the General Register Office, Certificate Services Section, P O Box 2, Southport, PR8 2JD. You can also apply for certificate on 0300 1231837 or, online at www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates. The certificate goes to the Regional Processing Centre and will not be returned.”
What about defending a divorce?
In certain circumstances it may be appropriate to consider whether to contest the allegations contained in a divorce Petition. However, this will significantly increase your legal fees and may require court attendance. Paul Jordan, a leading Barnstaple divorce solicitor, says that cases of defended divorces are rare and he recommends that you speak to a specialist solicitor about it before making any firm decisions. You can speak to Paul or one of his colleagues by calling our FREE LEGAL HELPLINE.
What happens when I issue a divorce Petition?
The divorce Petition is served by post from the Regional Processing Centre with an Acknowledgement of Service form to be completed and returned within 14 days. Before we can apply for the Decree Nisi we must be able to prove that the petition has been received, even if it has not been acknowledged. If your spouse/civil partner does not respond, there are two options:-
- Court Bailiff/Personal Service – there are additional fees for these and a photograph and description of your spouse/civil partner is required.
- Deemed Service – if your spouse/civil partner has confirmed to you that they have received the petition, but will not complete the Acknowledgement of Service, we can draft a statement for you and file this with the court.
How we can help
We offer a range of services. We can handle the entire divorce process on your behalf from start to finish, or we can assist you with specific aspects of the process on a fixed fee basis.