Divorce and the law


Divorce law is currently governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. This Act states that in order to petition for divorce a couple is required to have been married for one year.

If so, then the petitioner (the person seeking a divorce) can present an application for divorce to the respondent (the other party), which he or she can choose to either defend or not.

Grounds for divorce

There is one sole ground for divorce under divorce law: that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

The only way to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is by proving one of five facts set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

It is crucial that one of these five facts is proved in order to obtain a divorce from the court and this is something which a divorce solicitor can help you establish. The five facts are as follows:

  • The husband or wife has committed adultery
  • The husband or wife has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with that person
  • The husband or wife has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of two years directly preceding the application for divorce
  • Both parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of two years directly preceding the application for divorce. In this case, the respondent must consent to the divorce being granted
  • Both parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of five years directly preceding the application for divorce. In this case no consent is required or any proof of wrongdoing

The welfare principle

In divorce and family law, what is best for a child’s welfare will be the paramount deciding factor for the court in cases involving the upbringing of children.

This is often referred to as the ‘welfare principle’. When using the welfare principle the court will have particular regard for things like the child’s feelings in light of:

  • Their age
  • Their emotional and educational needs
  • Any harm suffered or the risk of suffering
  • How capable each of the parents is – or indeed any other relative the court considers relevant

A court will only make an order with regards to a child if it considers that by making an order it would be better for the child than making no order at all.

Divorce cases involving children can be incredibly complicated, and the services of a specialist solicitor can aid your case enormously.
For more information on children and family law, see our information page on children and divorce.

Do you want to instruct a divorce lawyer to handle your affairs? Caven can put you in touch with a specialist family law solicitor to suit your needs and your budget. Please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

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