There is one ground for divorce in England and Wales, that being ‘Irretrievable Breakdown of the marriage.’
Currently, and until the new legislation enacted by the Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 actually comes into effect in April 2022, in order to establish "Irretrievable Breakdown" you must rely on one of five specified facts. These are as follows:
- Adultery by the Respondent not the Petitioner - this must usually be admitted.
- Unreasonable Behaviour of the Respondent - usually six examples of fairly recent behaviour which the Petitioner felt were so unreasonable that they could not be expected to continue living with the Respondent and which the Court would agree was sufficiently unreasonable to establish this.
- Desertion - the Respondent having left the marriage and their whereabouts not been known for a period of two years - used rarely.
- Two years separation with the consent of the Respondent - this must usually be two years of physical separation between the parties and the Respondent must consent to the divorce.
- Five years separation without the consent of the Respondent - again this must usually be physical separation.
Currently therefore unless one of these five facts exists, it is not possible to commence divorce proceedings.
The situation will however alter dramatically from April 2022 onwards as you will the see the disappearance of the five ‘facts’ of divorce and that will remove the concept of the innocent / guilty spouse which has been a feature of our law for decades. No more will there be divorces based on adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Finally, we will have ‘no fault’ divorce.
As far as the precise procedures under the under the new law are concerned, there are still some not yet known as these notes are being prepared (October 2021) but what we do know is that the procedures will be exclusively online.
As far as timescale of the divorce process is concerned, it is possible, under the existing law, for a Divorce Petition from inception to conclusion to take between 3-4 months although usually the timescale is longer to allow the couple to resolve the financial implications of the marriage breakdown. There are numerous imponderables in all this so if you require a better idea of how long your own divorce process is likely to take then this is something that we can advise on in detail.
To summarise therefore, at the moment we are still operating under the old law but from April 2022 a big change will take place although current assessments are that the new procedure should be simpler and swifter than the current divorce procedure.
Here at Rundlewalker, we have an experienced team of Solicitors waiting to assist you with any divorce query.
Please contact our Family Law Team by telephone on 01392 209209. If you choose to email, please provide a contact telephone number and we will call you at the earliest opportunity.