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Divorce - what you need to know

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With Newspapers and gossip magazines printing that Celebrities are getting 'quickie' divorces based on 'irreconcilable differences', it can be difficult to understand the real process of a divorce and how it works. To set the record straight, there is no such thing as a “quickie” divorce and you cannot get a divorce based on 'irreconcilable differences'.

So how long does a divorce take?

The short answer is 4 – 6 months; however, this depends on how busy the Court is at the time because that can be one of the biggest delays. It also depends on how quickly both parties submit the relevant paperwork to the Court at each stage. If you decide to resolve financial matters (which is advisable) during the Divorce Proceedings then this can also delay finalising the divorce.

So what are the stages of a divorce?

  1. Draft Divorce Petition
  2. Submit Petition to the Court with Court fee to be issued
  3. The Court issues the Petition and sends it to the Respondent
  4. The Respondent then needs to complete an Acknowledgment of Service form and send it back to the Court
  5. Once the Petitioner receives a copy of this form from the Court, prepare and submit an Application for Decree Nisi. This is the preliminary divorce decree
  6. The Court sends the Divorce file to a District Judge for everything to be checked and approved. A date is then set for Decree Nisi to be pronounced
  7. Decree Nisi is then pronounced
  8. 6 weeks and 1 day after Decree Nisi, the Petitioner can submit the Application for Decree Absolute. This finalises the divorce and the Decree Absolute replaces your Marriage Certificate

When a newspaper refers to a celebrity receiving a “quickie” divorce they are referring to the fact that they have received notification that Decree Nisi has been pronounced. The celebrity will still have to wait 6 weeks and 1 day until they can submit an application to formally end the marriage by way of Decree Absolute.

What are the grounds for divorce?

There is only one ground for Divorce. That is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To show that is the case however, you have to rely on one of 5 facts.  You have to have been married for at least 1 year to be able to submit a Divorce Petition to the Court. If there is more than one fact available to you to rely upon for your Divorce Proceedings it does NOT matter which one you choose. It does not make any difference to the outcome of the Divorce or any financial matters linked to the Divorce. Choosing Adultery over 2 years separation for example does not mean you will receive a better financial resolution over your spouse and the reasons cited for unreasonable behaviour do not have any effect on the outcome of the divorce or financial proceedings.

  1. Adultery - If your spouse has committed adultery with another person you can use this ground for a divorce and you do not have to have been separated for a specific amount of time, however you cannot use this ground if you have lived with your spouse for 6 months or longer after having knowledge of the adultery.
  2. Unreasonable behaviour - This ground can be used if your spouse has behaved in such a way that you can no longer be reasonably expected to live with them as spouses. Again you do not have to have been separated for any period of time to use this ground.
  3. Desertion - This ground is very rare and is used in circumstances where your spouse has left you without your agreement and without a good reason with the intention of ending the marriage and has been gone for more than 2 years.
  4. 2 years separation - If you have lived apart from your spouse for 2 years or more and they are in agreement with the divorce, you can  use this ground.
  5. 5 years separation - You can apply for a divorce on this ground if you have been living apart from your spouse for 5 years or longer and this does not require their consent.

If you are thinking of separating or have separated from your spouse and would like advice in relation to Divorce Proceedings, please do contact one of our family experts to discuss your options. 

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