Grounds for divorce
Within the Divorce Petition, the Petitioner (the party filing for divorce) has to provide evidence to the court that their marriage has broken down irretrievably, which is the only ground for divorce. This is done (and one of our family Liverpool Solicitors can help you with this) by reference to one of five legally defined facts. Those facts (often referred to incorrectly as the grounds for divorce) are as follows:
- Adultery (which must be proved by an admission by the other party);
- Unreasonable behaviour;
- Desertion for a period of two years;
- Two years separation with the agreement of both parties to obtain a divorce; and
- Five years separation (with or without the agreement of the other party to obtain a divorce).
The facts most commonly relied upon by parties are unreasonable behaviour and adultery. However, parties often agree to wait for a period of two years before obtaining a divorce in order that the same can be processed without any party being blamed for the breakdown of the marriage.
In terms of unreasonable behaviour, the decision as to whether that behaviour has led to the Petitioner being unable to live with the Respondent is considered using both subjective (namely, through the eyes of the Petitioner) and objective (assessed by a judge reading the particulars of that behaviour) tests. That said, the behaviour cited does not need to be extreme and, further, the Respondent does not have to admit to the allegations made against them. Our Liverpool Solicitors can assist you with this to ensure any petition satisfies the requirements.
It should be noted that the reason for the breakdown of the marriage very rarely affects how financial matters are decided.
Starting the divorce process
In England and Wales, the divorce process starts with the filing of a Divorce Petition and ends with the court granting Decree Absolute, a document which brings the marriage to an end altogether.
In almost all cases, there will be no need for either party or indeed one of our divorce solicitors to attend court at any stage of the process. The court will usually progress the divorce on paper with the documents being filed by post.
If the divorce is uncontested and the parties are in agreement in terms of financial matters, the process can actually take as little as six months. However, it often takes longer as the parties will wish to ensure financial matters are concluded before finalising the divorce.
Our family law solicitors in Liverpool city centre can assist you in drafting, preparing, and lodging the necessary paperwork with the court in order to start this process.
We, therefore, recommend that you contact one of our divorce solicitors in Liverpool in order to arrange a free initial 30-minute consultation to discuss your requirements further.
How long does a divorce take?
Our specialist family team in Liverpool do not recommend terminating your marriage until such time that financial matters have been brought to a complete conclusion and a clean break Consent Order obtained.
Bringing an end to your marriage will affect any pension rights and inheritance rights you may have. As such, in reality, it is more likely to take between 6 and 18 months to resolve all of the matters which arise from the breakdown of a marriage.
The length of time it takes to process will also largely depend upon whether you can resolve financial matters yourselves through direct negotiations, in mediation or through solicitors or whether it will be necessary for us to make an application to the court to have financial matters resolved by way of a court order.
The divorce process itself is relatively straightforward. It is more likely that divorcing couples will experience difficulty trying to resolve financial matters or issues surrounding the children. However, it is recommended that these issues be sorted before the divorce is finalised as they will impact the length of time between petitioning for divorce and receiving your final Decree Absolute certificate.
Our specialist team of family and divorce lawyers in Liverpool City Centre are very experienced in dealing with a wide array of divorce cases and can provide detailed and realistic advice to you concerning how long you can expect the process to take in your particular circumstances.
To speak to one of these expert solicitors from our team of Liverpool family lawyers, we suggest you contact us to arrange a free initial consultation to discuss how long a divorce takes.
The simple answer is no. It is not completely necessary for you to reach a financial settlement before the court grants your Decree Absolute, bringing your marriage to an end once and for all. However, if a financial settlement is not reached and thereafter approved by the Family Court, all financial claims will remain open and live, even after Decree Absolute is granted, meaning your spouse/partner could try to make a financial claim against you in the future, even once you have finalised the divorce.
This is why our family solicitors in Liverpool always recommend that you reach an agreement and have a clean break Consent Order drafted, approved by the court and in place, even if you do not have any intention to divide or share assets such as pensions or savings.
It is, of course, beneficial for both you and your spouse to reach an amicable agreement in terms of dividing your assets. However, our family team in Liverpool recommends that you take steps to have the terms of this amicable agreement drafted into a Consent Order in order to make it legally binding.
The court has to ensure that the settlement reached is reasonable and that one party is not being treated unfairly. Further, the Consent Order protects the parties from potential breaches by their spouse. It ensures that both parties have to stick the agreement going forward.
Our experienced divorce solicitors in Liverpool understand that is not always appropriate or even possible for parties to discuss potential financial settlements between themselves.
If this is the case for you, our family team can provide you with realistic and useful advice, negotiate on your behalf, make referrals for mediation and take other steps to assist you in reaching a financial settlement.
If an agreement still cannot be reached then we may need to make an application to the court to have a settlement put in place. The court will consider a number of factors such as the ages of the parties, earnings and potential future earnings, how much property and cash is owned by each party and whether you were a ‘stay at home’ spouse or the primary earner in the family.
It is also important to keep in mind that the court will always put the interests of any children in the family first when making a decision in terms of the financial settlement. The court will need to ensure that proper housing and financial support are in place for both the parties and children.
All assets of the marriage will be taken into account when considering a financial divorce settlement agreement which includes savings, property and, pension funds.
Your pension will be considered, particularly in circumstances where one party has had the opportunity to amass a large pension fund while the other party has a very little pension. This is in order that the court can be sure that both parties’ needs are met in the future.
It is not easy to determine what a court would likely order in terms of a financial settlement, but if you provide information in relation to your financial circumstances to our expert family law solicitors in Liverpool, we will be able to provide you with thorough, realistic, and detailed advice. We, therefore, recommend that you contact us to arrange a free consultation about your divorce settlement agreement with our solicitors in Liverpool City Centre.
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