Divorce very often can cause a great deal of stress and worry. Very often with Divorce matters clients are afraid of the unknown and seek out advice before deciding to go through the process. It is therefore important to know what is involved…
1: Are there sufficient grounds? To be able to divorce you must be able to establish one of the 5 grounds for divorce
- Separation with Consent after 2 years
- Separation without Consent after 5 years
- Desertion after 2 years.
The majority of Divorces that come before the Court do so on the grounds of behaviour. However, following the recent ruling in the case of Owens v Owens has meant that Courts take a slightly tougher line when looking at behaviour petitions. Behaviour must be such that you can no longer reasonably live with your partner.
2: Do you have the marriage certificate? All petitions should be filed with the original marriage certificate. If lost you can easily obtain a duplicate from your local registry office for a minimal charge. Please note in cases involving a marriage abroad, in addition to the marriage certificate a certified English translation will also be required, so getting these documents early is essential.
3: To Defend or not to Defend. A big mistake I often see are clients or their ex partners defending petitions, even when they want the divorce, as they don’t want to have their name tarnished. In reality the proceedings are largely kept private and if both want the Divorce they can tell the Court that they object to the particulars of claim, i.e. that they disagree with the grounds for the divorce, but that they do not intend to defend the same. This allows the parties divorce to then proceed on paper which in turn can significantly reduce the parties stress levels. Defending proceedings then will result in a hearing which can have serious consequences with regards to both the marriage and to costs as often the losing party is expected to meet the other’s costs at those hearings.
4: Agree a Petition – when you can. You may have heard of the term “Quickie Divorce” This is where it comes from. If parties are willing to co-operate with each other it can be prudent to try and agree a Petition ahead of time. This means that the petition can be responded to quickly and can help speed up the process. Agreeing matters ahead of time means that both parties are then able to file response documentation as soon as received from the Court with little or no wait. The issue of costs can also be agreed and clearly recorded when submitting documents. Of course this is not always possible.
5: Costs Orders – to apply or not. Within every Divorce Petition there is a box on the back page to ask that your partner meets the costs of the divorce. This is often ticked, particularly in behaviour cases, because you might feel aggrieved at the other party’s behaviour. But to ensure that the other party doesn’t cause unnecessary delays you can even record that you will only pursue costs if the other party defends. At other times it can be agreed that each party will pay half of the costs. It makes the process much smoother and more cost effective for parties. For those receiving petitions they should also be aware of this as the window to object is limited. If the individual intends to defend the costs order he or she should make it clear in the Acknowledgement form they complete when they receive the Petition. The Court then when it decides to grant the Costs Order gives the other party a chance to respond in writing the reasons for objecting to the same no less than 14 days before the Decree Nisi hearing. They then must attend to re-iterate their position and give the other side an opportunity to respond. The Courts will then look at that person’s ability to pay the sum based on their income and outgoings.
Following these tips when going through your Divorce will save you time and money. It is always however prudent to get prompt legal advice in matters to assist you further through the process.