Duncan Lewis

Family Law

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Divorce Made Simple

Date: (26 September 2011)    |    

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Duncan Lewis:You or your spouse may initiate the legal proceedings for divorce as long as you have been married for at least a year. The aim of these proceedings will be to prove through filing a court petition that the marriage has collapsed and is beyond repair.

The ways in which the marriage could have collapsed boil down to adultery; unreasonable behaviour by one of the parties; a separation of two years or more and mutual agreement to divorce; or desertion by one of the partners.
Three-quarters of the people seeking a divorce cite unreasonable behaviour or adultery as the reason, probably in large part because the couple does not need to have been separated for two or more years under these circumstances.
As long as the presiding judge is satisfied that he or she has sufficient reason to grant a divorce based on the reasons provided, only a few details have to be cited in the petition. It used to be a more intrusive, drawn-out, and embarrassing process; for example, the identity of the third party in the case of adultery once needed to be provided.
A firm of divorce solicitors can be consulted about the requirements under the specific circumstances.

Once a solicitor such as Duncan Lewis, who deals with divorces, has been taken on to deal with the matter, an application for financial orders or ancillary relief can be made to the court. A statement of arrangements for children form also needs to be completed at this stage of the proceedings; ideally, the spouse will have already been approached about this and some sort of agreement reached.
The other spouse is referred to as the respondent, and once they have come into receipt of the petition they have eight days to acknowledge the service to the court and say whether they agree to the proposed divorce, want to defend against it or object to cost claims, and whether they agree with the proposed arrangements for the offspring.

There are 29 days in which the divorce can then be contested by the defendant, in which period they have to file an answer or a disagreement. Only a tiny number of divorces are defended because of the length and cost of the court proceedings that follow. Where the couple have been together for five years or more and there are financial matters to attend to a petition can be contested to allow time for these matters to be sorted out before finalisation.
An affidavit is then sworn by the petitioner following prompt acknowledgement of service. This is sworn under oath to confirm all the facts before a court officer or a solicitor. The judge checks it and then decides whether the petitioner is entitled to the proposed divorce and whether any children are provided for satisfactorily.

A decree nisi date is then fixed, when the names of the couple are read out by the judge together with the grounds for the divorce; neither of the spouses need be present for this. A degree absolute is then applied for by the petitioner six weeks and a day following the decree nisi and this, when granted, is the final divorce.