Divorce Of Marriages/Dissolution Of Civil Partnerships

Divorce Of Marriages/Dissolution Of Civil Partnerships

Except in the case of annulment (to declare a marriage null and void e.g. because of bigamy), Divorce proceedings cannot be commenced until at least 12 months have elapsed from the date of the marriage

There is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has “irretrievably broken down”. The Petitioner (i.e. the party who starts divorce proceedings) must, however, support this ground by relying upon one of five “facts” which are prescribed in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, namely:-

i.) Section 1(2) (a)

Adultery by the Respondent, committed before/or after any separation.

ii.) Section 1(2) (b)

The unreasonable behaviour of the Respondent.

iii.) Section 1(2) (c)

Desertion for at least two years by the Respondent

iv.) Section 1(2) (d)

Two years separation with consent

v.) Section 1(2) (e)

Five years separation immediately preceding the presentation of the Petition. The Respondent`s consent is not required but a special defence is available to a Respondent who is opposed to Divorce but is otherwise powerless to stop it taking place.

We can help advise you on the best option to pursue and how to go about establishing the fact. Our approach is to be as non-confrontational as possible while still seeking to achieve the best result for you and your family.


If all proceeds smoothly it usually takes about 6 months from the commencement of the proceedings to the granting of the Decree Nisi but the application for the Decree Absolute (upon the granting of which the parties are fully and finally divorced) is usually delayed until the Court has made an Order, hopefully, by consent, dividing the assets of the marriage, particularly in cases involving Pension sharing.

This is because if the Petitioner were to die after Decree Absolute but before such an Order was made they, as an ex-spouse rather than Widow or Widower, may be denied assets which might otherwise be theirs such as Death in Service Benefits.