The end of a Relationship
It is rare that both parties will come to the conclusion that their relationship has come to an end at the same time. The decision will usually have been taken by one partner some time ago and may well come as a shock to the other.
By the time that the announcement is made it is usually too late to salvage the relationship although if it has been discussed before it is possible to consider counselling.
The commonly accepted pattern of emotional progress is grief, shock, denial, anger, hatred and then acceptance. There are counsellors available to help you through these stages. How long it takes to move from one stage to another is different for each person. There can be three elements which need to be dealt with: The termination of the relationship itself, children and finances.
Whilst the criteria upon which all matters are dealt with are the same there are various processes, some of which are less confrontational then others. These are:- Agreement, Mediation, Collaborative Law; negotiations via solicitors, Court proceedings.
When parties who are married wish to separate there are a number of levels of separation. There is no such thing as a ‘legal separation’ you either live together or take one of the following courses of action.
Where both parties agree on what they are going to do and separate without making any formal arrangements. This might suit some people where, for instance, there is no pressure to get divorced and where neither party have plans to remarry. Pensions and joint assets will devolve as if the parties were still living together unless alternative arrangements are made. The drawback is that circumstances can change. Both parties will have developed new lives with new assets and liabilities. A court will deal with it on the basis of the assets which exist at the time when it comes before the court. It is very difficult for a Judge to look at the position several years on. The outcome can be extremely variable and definitely uncertain.
Deed of Separation
Where the parties are agreed on all aspects of their financial arrangements these can all be embodied in an agreement which is in the form of a Deed. Whilst the court always reserves the power to look at an agreement on a divorce, provided the agreement is reached on the basis of full disclosure of assets and liabilities and where both parties have had the benefit of legal advice, a court will be reluctant to become involved and change the agreement reached. A Deed of Separation is particularly useful where, for instance, parties have agreed to separate but do not have immediate plans to divorce.
This is an application to the court in virtually the same form of a divorce. The grounds for applying are the same as for a divorce save you do not need to establish that the marriage has broken down irretrievably as you do remain married. It was intended particularly for members of the Roman Catholic Church who needed to use the powers of the court to deal with financial matters but could not contemplate a divorce because of their religious beliefs.
The benefit is that it can be brought within 12 months of marriage. The drawback is that if you are subsequently going to become divorced you have to go through the whole process again. There are certain orders such as pension sharing which cannot be made upon Judicial Separation.
There is only one ground for divorce. That is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. It is necessary to prove that it has broken down irretrievably by showing one of the following grounds:
- That the other party has committed adultery
- That the other party has behaved unreasonably
- That the other party has deserted you for a period of two years
- That you have lived separate and apart for a period of two years and the other party consents to the divorce.
- That you have lived separate and apart for five years. No consent is needed.
Once a Petition has been issued all financial matters remain at large and can only be brought to an end by an order lodged with the court either by agreement or after a hearing unless a party has remarried without first issuing a financial claim.
There is no legal aid available for divorce itself unless you can prove you have been the victim of domestic abuse and that your income and capital are below a certain level. The court fee of £550 is payable upon issuing of the petition and you need to lodge your original marriage certificate with the court which will not be returned to you. You may be entitled to a reduction in whole or in part if you are on benefits or a low income.
For certain of the facts relied upon for divorce, you may be able to make a claim for costs but usually the costs position is agreed either before or on issue of a petition. Defended divorces are rare save in very exceptional circumstances. The identity of the petitioner and respondent and the grounds for divorce are irrelevant when it comes to resolving the finances and the arrangements for the children save in very exceptional circumstances. It is simply a method of bringing the marriage to an end.
An undefended divorce will usually be concluded within 6 months.