Divorce and dissolution of civil partnership
Divorce and dissolution (for civil partnership) is the formal ending of the legal relationship between the spouses or partners. This requires a court order. The courts also have wide powers to adjust the couple’s property and money, and for enforcement of property and money orders.
A person who wants a divorce starts by filling in a form called a “petition” and taking it to a divorce county court or, in London, to the Principal Registry. The marriage must have lasted at least one year. Click here to find out more about a petion forms.
You must be able to prove to the court that your marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. You do this by proving one of the 5 ‘facts’ below applies:
That your husband or wife has committed adultery and that you find it intolerable to live with him or her;
That your husband’s or wife’s behaviour has been such that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her;
That your husband or wife deserted you at least 2 years ago;
That you have lived apart from your husband or wife for at least 2 years and he or she agrees to a divorce;
That you have lived apart from your husband or wife for at least 5 years.
The vast majority of divorces are not defended and are considered by a District Judge without a court hearing. If the judge agrees that proper reasons have been given a divorce is granted.
You can also apply to the court for a ruling that your marriage is not valid and obtain a decree of nullity.If a couple divorces or their marriage is annulled, the courts have powers to make orders relating to their money and property.
For more information about divorce see Divorce Aid and Divorce-online.
The Community Legal Service (CLS) has a leaflet on divorce and separation.