If you are contemplating getting divorced, you may feel apprehensive or even worried about how it all works. As an insight into the steps to get you there, I have outlined the 7-steps (to freedom!) below, to hopefully answer some of your questions and ease the way for you a little.
1. Get support and advice
If you and your partner have reached the joint decision to separate or you alone are considering separation, it is important to first seek support and advice. This support could be from close family and friends or a trained therapist specialising in family separation. Advice from a family lawyer specialising in separation and divorce is always a good place to start.
2. Check that you can get divorced in England and Wales
It is important to note that there are certain criteria that need to be met before you can start the divorce process:
- You must have been married for over a year
- Your relationship must have permanently broken down
- Your marriage is legally recognised in the England and Wales
- You or your husband/wife permanently live in England or Wales
3. Applying for divorce
When you apply for a divorce you will need to provide the court with evidence that your marriage has entirely broken down. You will need to decide on which fact you wish to rely on. There are five facts, however, the majority of divorces use either unreasonable behaviour or adultery, as these are currently the only two facts that allow divorce proceedings to commence immediately. The “No Fault Divorce” Bill is still being considered by parliament, which will allow married couples to divorce without the need to provide a fact, however, for the time being we are stuck with the current law.
Your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them. This could include:
a) Emotional abuse, threats, or bullying
b) Physical abuse
c) Alcohol or drugs
d) Living separate lives
Your husband or wife had sexual intercourse with someone else of the opposite sex (committed adultery).
You cannot give adultery as a reason if you lived together as a couple for more than 6 months after you found out about it.
You can apply online for a divorce www.gov.uk/apply-for-divorce or you can enlist the help of a family lawyer who will not only help you complete all the necessary forms but will be able to inform and guide you through the whole process.
4. Start to consider the long-time arrangements for the children: Living arrangements and finances
Making arrangements for your children, considering your living arrangements and starting to think about how you will divide the family assets, will all be simultaneously occurring during stages 1 – 3 above. It is essential that you do not make any binding decisions without first seeking independent legal advice.
5. Start the ball rolling by applying for the decree NISI
Applying for the Decree Nisi formally starts the divorce process. The Decree Nisi is a document that will signify the first stage of the divorce. You will have to wait a minimum of 6 weeks and 1 day before you apply for the Decree Absolute, which is the second and final stage of your divorce and which document legally ends your marriage.
6. Agree and finalise child aggangements, and division of family assets
Once the Decree Nisi has been applied for, serious consideration and negotiations will be in full flow deciding on the future arrangements for the children and how the family assets will be divided. These discussions can take place with the help of a skilled mediator or family lawyer. Ideally a resolution will be agreed on without the need to engage in court proceedings. (I will address financial and children proceedings in separate articles). If the separating couple is able to agree matters, a document called a consent order can be drafted by a family lawyer, which is signed by both the husband and wife and sent to the court to be approved.
7. Home run apply for the decree absolute
Once all the arrangements and agreements have been approved by the court and the requisite 6 weeks and 1 day has lapsed, the Decree Absolute can be applied for. This document usually arrives within a couple of weeks, which gives you the legal freedom to remarry (if this is your wish).
If you need any advice or guidance on a relationship breakdown, I am here to help. You can find out more about my divorce solicitor services here https://lifelawliving.co.uk/divorce-separation/.
I offer a 20 minute FREE initial consultation, either online or by telephone.. To talk to me call 0330 094 5380 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
My divorce and separation service covers Essex, Hertfordshire, London and the South-East, however I have a large network of legal professionals that I work with across the UK.
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