As experts in family law the team at Higgins Miller are all used to dealing with people during some of the most stressful periods of their life. Issues such as wills and probate, children disputes and financial settlements are all difficult to cope with even before the complex legal dimension comes into play. That’s why we always ensure that the advice we offer is empathetic and transparent, as well as detailed and expert. It’s this kind of approach which makes Higgins Miller the perfect place to come to if you want to find out how to apply for divorce.
The recognition that a marriage has come to its natural end is always going to be difficult to handle, but knowing how to apply for divorce properly can help to minimise the stress, cost and timescale of the process. Aside from the personal pain a divorce might involve, the process of dividing assets and making future financial plans – particularly if children are involved – is highly complex, and any mistakes made during the initial stages could impact negatively for many years to come.
It may be tempting, given how stressful the thought of dealing with courts and solicitors can be, to think that an agreement can be arrived at informally between the two parties involved, but this runs the risk of the arrangements made not being legally binding, something which could cause huge problems if, for example, one of the parties remarries or goes on to have further children.
Although any couple seeking a divorce must have been married for at least 12 months and have to view England or Wales as their permanent home, perhaps the most vital aspect of how to apply for divorce is that the person applying has grounds for divorce. This basically means that they have a reason for divorcing which will be accepted by the court, allowing them to grant the divorce.
In simple terms there are five separate grounds for divorce, and these are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, a two year separation and a five year separation. Accessing the advice of experts like those at Higgins Miller will ensure that the right choice is made at the outset of the process, something which will save time, trouble and money further down the line. A brief explanation of the five grounds for divorce is as follows:
Unreasonable Behaviour – the behaviour in question could take many forms, from excessive drinking, drug taking or violence to a refusal to engage in physical or sexual relations or a highly irresponsible attitude towards finances. In some cases factors such as one partner being focused on their career to the exclusion of personal relationships, or simply the parties in question having no interests in common will represent unreasonable behaviour.
Adultery – this refers to one of the parties having had sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex who is not their partner. For adultery to be cited as grounds for divorce it must have taken place or have been discovered within six months of the divorce petition actually being sent to the court.
Desertion – this means that you spouse has left you, without you consenting to their leaving, for a continuous period no shorter than two years.
Two Year Separation – if both parties agree to the divorce and have been living apart for a period of two years prior to applying to the court, then this separation can be used as grounds for the divorce to be granted.
Five Year Separation – if both parties have been living apart for at least five years, then either can apply for a divorce without the other having to be in agreement.
Once the right grounds have been established, the details of how to apply for divorce mainly cover clerical matters such as filling in a D8 divorce petition form, which is the form which asks the court for permission to divorce, giving the reasons why the divorce is necessary. If the spouse in question agrees to the divorce, then a decree nisi will be issued. A decree nisi takes the form of an interim divorce dissolution which allows for a six weeks period before applying for the decree absolute.
When described in this manner the process of being granted a divorce can sound fairly simple, but in reality there are often issues such as the division of any assets relating to the marriage and the arrangements for future care of children, to be taken into account. The court fee for starting the divorce process, which currently stands at £550, could just be the start of the money which has to be spent if every part of the process isn’t completed 100% correctly in the earliest stages.
If you’d like to know how to apply for divorce, you’re wondering whether you have grounds for a divorce, or would just like to learn more about what the process involves, then please contact Higgins Miller on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected]. An initial 20 minute appraisal is provided free of charge and we operate a fixed fee first appointment system, meaning you can establish your legal position without risking further unpredictable expense. For details of our wider charging structure, please see here.