couple signing divorce papers

Getting a Divorce in the UK: All You Need to Know

There is probably no couple in the world that walks down the aisle expecting their marriage to end with the husband and wife going on their separate ways forever. However, this is a reality that thousands of couples experience every single day. Deciding that your relationship has already ended is both painful and difficult. In spite of this, you can take comfort in the fact that the law has provided safeguards for you to protect your rights in the middle of this ordeal. Before heading off to your nearest divorce solicitors in the UK, here are some of the things that you need to know about this process:

Who could apply for a divorce?

In England and Wales, there are specific requirements for couples to qualify for applying for a divorce. Couples who plan to get divorced have either country as their permanent residence and should be married for more than a year. In addition, the relationship should have permanently broken down by the time the application is filed. Your marriage should also be legally recognised in the UK, which includes same-sex unions.

Meanwhile, there are different rules when it comes to applying for a divorce in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. For instance, Scotland has its own residence criteria when it comes to divorce.

Legal grounds

divorce lawyer with couple

The “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage is the only ground for divorce throughout the UK. To prove this to the courts and explain why your marriage has ended, there are four main reasons available, including adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, and separation.

For the first reason, your spouse should have had sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex. If your spouse admits to this and agrees to proceed with the divorce, then your application will most likely be accepted by the court. If not, you have the burden of proving that the adultery has occurred.

On the other hand, unreasonable behaviour encompasses a variety of conduct, including withholding affection and domestic violence, among others. For this option, you will have to provide at least five examples of your spouse’s behaviour.

Meanwhile, for desertion, you will need to prove that your spouse left you for at least two years to end your marriage without your consent.

Finally, there are two ways for the court to admit separation as a reason. The first is a separation within two consecutive years as long as both parties consent to the divorce. Also, you can petition the court even without the consent of your spouse if you have already been leading separate lives for five years.

The process of filing

There are three steps that you need to accomplish to get your divorce approved by the courts. The first is to file with a court in the UK and provide your reasons. Then, you will have to acquire a decree nisi, which is easily obtainable if both parties consent to the application. If not, you will have to undergo court proceedings. The final stage to ratify your divorce is applying for a decree absolute.

On the other hand, while the conditions for application are essentially the same as those in England and Wales, divorce courts in Scotland place a different sort of emphasis on the property owned by the spouses prior to the marriage. In Northern Ireland, couples have to be married for at least two years before applying for a divorce.

Choosing to separate from the person whom you thought you’re going to spend the rest of your life with is undoubtedly difficult. Knowing what to expect from and how to prepare for the divorce process can at least ease some of your worries through these challenging times.

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