Five FAQs on administrative proceedings in divorces


When can you get a divorce?

In order to start divorce proceedings in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a couple must have been married for a minimum of one year (or two years in Northern Ireland). Moreover, the marriage must be recognised as valid and one partner must have been living in the UK for at least a year before making an application for divorce. Both parties should obtain advice from separate family law solicitors in order to protect their best interests.

What is divorce petition?

The petitioner files the petition for divorce with the court, the other partner is known as the respondent. The petitioner shows the marriage has broken down irretrievably, by proving that there are grounds for divorce. The grounds are outlined in the divorce petition and there are five categories, but only one can be applied. The grounds are:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion of more than two years
  • Two years’ mutual separation
  • Five years’ separation without mutual consent

What is a statement of arrangements?

A statement of arrangements must also be filed, if a divorcing couple has children. The statement gives details of proposed arrangements for children under 16, or children under 18 still in full-time education or training. If the couple can settle matters such as parental contact and financial maintenance, the court is unlikely to obstruct that agreement. Otherwise, a judge may ask the couple to attend a review hearing; or mediation may be suggested.

What is a decree nisi?

A decree nisi is a provisional declaration issued by the court concerning the legal ending of a marriage. It is granted when the court is satisfied that the petitioner is entitled to a divorce because they have proved the contents of the petition. However, a decree nisi does not end the marriage, it is the notice given by the court that a full divorce will be granted if no contrary reason is found.

What is a decree absolute?

A decree absolute is the legal declaration that finally dissolves a marriage. After this formal ending to the partnership, both parties to the divorce are free to marry another partner. There is a built-in time-delay of six weeks and one day, between the issuance of the decree nisi and the decree absolute. The delay is so that any objections to the divorce can finally be dealt with.

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