To obtain a divorce in England you must have been married for one year, and your marriage recognised as valid in UK law. A divorce petition is a legal document to be filed with the court by the person seeking a divorce, known as the ‘petitioner’. This petition will set out your reasons for seeking a divorce.
Your solicitor will help with filing the petition, which must also be served on your spouse who will then become legally known as ‘the respondent’. Once the petition is filed with the court, the divorce process is deemed to have started.
A divorce will only be granted if the court agrees that your marriage is at an end. You must prove that one or more of the following has contributed to the breakdown of your marriage:
- Adultery by your husband or wife
- Desertion for a period of not less than two years
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years’ separation if both parties agree to the divorce
- Five years separation if there is no agreement
Copies of the marriage certificate, details of children involved and the name and address of the person to be named (in the event of adultery) must be supplied. Any person named in the petition for adultery will become known as the ‘co-respondent’.
The petition will then be ‘served’ on your husband or wife and any co-respondent. The respondent then has eight days to acknowledge receipt. Depending on whether or not your husband or wife contests or agrees to the divorce, you may be asked to provide further information to the court. The court must also consent to any arrangements made for the children.
Our specialist Family Team can help with any questions you may have about the process. Head of the Family Team, Julie-Ann Harris, says “Relationship breakdowns can be traumatic. Naturally, you will be concerned about your finances, property arrangements and how it will affect any children you have. We are here to offer you support and guidance throughout the process and we aim to provide sympathetic and tailored advice to help you on the road to a brighter future.”