Steps To Take If You’re Considering Divorce.

Steps To Take If You’re Considering Divorce

Divorce brings to an end a union that was meant to last forever. This final act ensures that a couple is no longer married in law; upon divorce, both parties are free to marry again. The problem with divorce is that it can be a complex, expensive and time-consuming process that often results in a number of unpleasant consequences. Wills and lasting powers of attorney can be invalidated by divorce, while disputes over financial settlements and parental responsibility are common. Any person who is considering divorce should follow the steps outlined below.

Grounds for Divorce 

Not everyone can divorce. Proceedings can only be initiated after a marriage has survived the first year, but this is not to suggest that couples cannot separate within this period. In the UK, there are five grounds for divorce. The most commonly cited is unreasonable behaviour, which covers a number of circumstances, from domestic violence and verbal abuse to drug use and failure to pay household bills. The second most common ground for divorce is adultery. Divorce proceedings can also commence if the couple separates after a year of marriage or one spouse spends a significant period of time away from the other (in excess of two years).

If the time limit has been satisfied and there are sufficient grounds for divorce, the path is clear for either spouse to initiate divorce proceedings.

The Divorce Process 

Divorce proceedings are initiated when either spouse submits a divorce petition to the court. The petition is simply a request for legal permission to the divorce, outlining the grounds (adultery, unreasonable behaviour, etc.) and any other relevant circumstances. The court will then decide whether to issue a decree nisi, which is a legal document that states there is no reason why the divorce cannot proceed as requested. If one spouse contests the petition, the couple may be required to appear in court. Otherwise, the court will issue the decree nisi without delay. A spouse must wait a further six weeks (sometimes longer) to apply for the decree absolute, which officially ends the marriage.

While this three-stage process might seem quick and uncomplicated, a conventional divorce can take a considerable period of time to complete. Solicitors usually become involved if one spouse contests the divorce petition or financial settlement. Many couples fight over how property and assets should be divided, while the awarding of child custody or parental responsibility is a complex matter that requires thorough examination by the court. Couples can avoid much of the expense and hassle of divorce by not contesting the petition, grounds or financial settlement. Proceedings can be initiated online to further save time and money.

Mediation 

Couples should also avail themselves of mediation, counselling or alternative dispute resolution to resolve conflict during the divorce process. Many people feel hostility, resentment, frustration and sadness during divorce. These emotions can cloud a person’s judgement; indeed, pride and loathing have dragged many a divorce through the courts. The sooner both spouses identify and accept the need to divorce, the better. Minor differences can be resolved through mediation, while disputes over property and parental responsibility should be negotiated amicably and rationally between solicitors.

There is no magic wand that can be waved over a broken marriage to make it disappear. An uncontested online divorce is perhaps the next best thing, but couples should be prepared for a long, difficult and potentially expensive process. Ironically, working together towards a common goal is the cheapest and quickest way forward for divorcing partners.

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This article was contributed by Lloyd on behalf of Switalskis Solicitors.

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