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Divorce & Separation

A relationship breakdown can be a traumatic experience and you may be experiencing a lot of anxiety and stress. You may be wondering what to do with your children, the finances or the current matrimonial home you occupy. Making the decision to divorce or separate can be very difficult, and equally hard for the person who receives the divorce petition.

 

With years of experience under their belts, our specialist solicitors will guide you through these difficult periods. By explaining the step by step process with care and attention to detail; our lawyers are the perfect professionals for you.

Divorce

Before you end your marriage, you’ll also need to decide:

 

  • how to divide any money you share
  • what happens to the home
  • where your children will live, if you have any

 

The divorce process will end your marriage. You can only get a divorce if you’ve been married for at least one year.

 

You might be able to get divorced without going to court if you and your ex-partner can agree you both want a divorce, and on the reason why. If you or your partner cannot agree to getting a divorce it’ll take more time. If you agree on your divorce and the reasons why, getting a divorce legally finalised will usually take 4 to 6 months. It might take longer if you need to sort out issues with money, property or children, which will have to be done separately.

 

A court may be approached by any of the two parties for obtaining divorce. The first step in this procedure is filing a petition. In simple words, petition filing means submitting an application for divorce to the Court. In the legal terminology, the one filing the Petition is referred to as Petitioner while the other is called Respondent. In order to get a Divorce you will need to show your marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. This means there’s no way you can work through your problems.

 

You do this by choosing one of 5 reasons – also known as ‘facts’ or ‘grounds for divorce’. You and your partner should try to agree on one of these facts:

 

  • one of you has cheated – also known as committing adultery
  • one of you has behaved unreasonably
  • your partner has left you and you’ve lived apart for at least 2 years in total – this is known as ‘desertion’
  • you’ve lived apart for at least 2 years and you both agree to the divorce
  • you’ve lived apart for at least 5 years – it doesn’t matter if your partner doesn’t agree to the divorce. This will automatically be considered as the willingness of the Respondent for divorce thus no consent will be required.

 

 

If you’ve been separated for less than 2 years, you can only use unreasonable behaviour or adultery as your reason for getting divorced.

 

You can’t usually use the reasons for divorce against your partner when it comes to sorting out things like money or contact with your children. This is because the court won’t usually take these reasons into account when making decisions.

Legal Separation

A Legal Separation (also known as a ‘Judicial Separation’) is a way of separating without getting divorced. It lets you and your partner make formal decisions about things like your finances and living arrangements, but you’ll still be married.

 

You might get a Legal Separation if you can’t or don’t want to divorce – for example:

 

  • you don’t want a divorce for religious or cultural reasons
  • you’ve been married less than a year

 

A Legal Separation doesn’t stop you from getting divorced at a later date.

Annulling your Marriage

Annulment (sometimes known as ‘nullity’) is a different way of ending a marriage. An Annulment ends a marriage that isn’t legal in the UK – for example, if:

 

  • one of you was already married or in a civil partnership
  • you didn’t properly agree to the marriage – for example, you were drunk or forced into it
  • you haven’t had sex with your partner since you got married

 

You or your spouse must have either:

 

  • lived in England or Wales for at least a year
  • had a permanent home in England or Wales for at least 6 months

 

Unlike divorce, you can apply for annulment in the first year of your marriage or any time after. However, if you apply years after the wedding, you might be asked to explain the delay.

 

You’ll need to show that the marriage:

 

  • was never legally valid (‘void’)
  • was legally valid, but meets one of the reasons that makes it ‘voidable’

 

As with divorce, your marriage legally exists until you annul it using one of the above reasons.

We offer a leading service to individuals, couples and family groups aimed at reaching an outcome that is suitable for all parties.

 

At White Horse Solicitors & Notary Public we understand that family issues can be difficult for those involved, especially on an emotional and personal level. We approach each case with the openness and care due to such trying issues, offering personalised guidance and assistance where we can.

 

Please contact us to discuss your Divorce/ Separation requirements or call us on 020 7118 1778

FAQs:

Adultery has to be sexual and with a member of the opposite sex, even if you’re in a same-sex marriage.

 

It doesn’t matter how long ago the adultery happened or whether it’s still happening. You’ll have to prove it happened. This can be very hard to prove unless your ex-partner admits to the adultery. If they won’t admit to it, it might be easier to prove that your ex-partner is having an inappropriate relationship with someone of the opposite sex. This would be ‘unreasonable behaviour’.  

 

You’ll also have to prove you didn’t live together for more than 6 months after finding out.

Unreasonable behavior can be anything your partner has done that makes you feel it’s impossible to live with them anymore.

 

It can include things like domestic abuse or committing a criminal offence.

 

It can also include things that might seem less serious, but that still make you feel you can’t stay with your partner – for example, if:

 

  • your partner doesn’t include you in their social life
  • you think your partner has become too close to someone else
  • your partner works long hours and you feel lonely
  • your partner doesn’t help with things like housework and cooking

 

You’ll need to give a reason you feel they’re being unreasonable that is specific and based on something they’ve done or are doing. If you can, it’s a good idea to agree this reason with your partner before you put it in the divorce petition.

You can use desertion as a reason if your partner left you and you haven’t been in a relationship with them for at least 2 years.

 

Desertion can be difficult to prove – it might be easier to use unreasonable behaviour or say you’ve lived apart for 2 years.

 

After your partner leaves, you can get back together again for up to 6 months in total – but this time won’t count towards the 2 years you need to prove desertion.

 

You’ll also need to prove your partner decided to leave you and that you didn’t want the relationship to end.  

If you and your partner agree you’ve lived totally separate lives for at least 2 years, you can use this as your reason for getting divorced.

 

You don’t need to have lived in 2 different homes, but it can be more difficult to prove you’ve lived separate lives if one of you hasn’t moved out.

 

If you still live together you shouldn’t share anything – for example, a bedroom, bank accounts or meals.

 

While you and your partner are separated, you can get back together again for up to 6 months in total. This time won’t count towards the 2 years you need to have been apart.

You won’t need your ex-partner’s agreement to get a divorce if you’ve been separated and living totally separate lives for at least 5 years. 

 

You don’t need to have lived in 2 different homes, but it can be more difficult to prove you’ve lived separate lives if one of you hasn’t moved out.

 

If you still live together you shouldn’t share anything – for example, a bedroom, bank accounts or meals.

 

While you and your partner are separated, you can get back together again for up to 6 months in total. This time won’t count towards the 5 years you need to have been apart.

If you’re in the UK as a dependant on your partner’s visa, you’ll lose your visa status once your divorce is made final.

 

You’ll need to check whether you can stay in the UK long term. You might need to apply for a new visa if you get divorced. If you don’t have the right to stay in the UK you might have to leave. 

If you can’t agree with your partner whether to get divorced or why you’re getting divorced, you could go to mediation. Mediation helps you reach an agreement between yourselves instead of it being court-imposed.

 

If you really can’t come to an agreement or if there are problems with costs such as who should pay the divorce fee, you should go to court – and you and your ex-partner should get legal advice from solicitors. 

 

A solicitor can help you decide on which of the 5 facts for divorce you want to use and tell you what evidence you’ll need. They can also speak to your ex-partner and their solicitor so you don’t have to.

 

A solicitor can also represent you in court – this means they’ll talk for you so you don’t have to. It’s best to use a solicitor if you can – they can make sure you get the best result.

You can annul a marriage if it was not legally valid in the first place, for example:

 

  • you’re closely related to the person you married
  • one or both of you were under 16
  • one of you was already married or in a civil partnership

 

If a marriage was never legally valid, the law says that it never existed.

 

However, you may need legal paperwork (a ‘decree of nullity’) to prove this – for example if you want to get married again.

You can annul a marriage for a number of reasons, such as:

 

  • it was not consummated – you have not had sexual intercourse with the person you married since the wedding (does not apply for same sex couples)
  • you did not properly consent to the marriage – for example you were forced into it
  • the other person had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) when you got married
  • your spouse was pregnant by someone else when you got married
  • one spouse is in the process of transitioning to a different gender

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