Getting a Divorce and the Role of Divorce Solicitors
Thinking about getting a divorce is understandably very stressful. After all, a marriage is supposed to be for life. The first thing you should do is ask yourself two important questions; is it a divorce you want, or is it a resolution of the problems in your marriage you really want?
If you have marriage problems and you think they are fixable, then you should do all you can to try to resolve them before taking the steps to divorce, especially if you have children!
Couples counseling could be a great help to you, as you’ll get a chance to discuss relationship problems with your partner and be able to do so without an argument erupting. Unless you are in an abusive relationship or your partner has committed serial adultery, it’s vital that you do all you can to save your marriage.
If you know that you’ve given the marriage your all and you still feel there is little or no hope, then it could be time to start thinking about ending the relationship and seeking information on how to get a divorce.
The Role of a Divorce Solicitor
Whether a divorce is complicated or straightforward, it’s always a good idea to get legal advice before you do anything. It’s inevitably a stressful time and you should seek the guidance of an impartial and experienced divorce solicitor. You will be making important decisions about childcare, custody, property and finances. It’s important you ensure your legal rights are protected. If you are a resident of Northern Ireland, MKB Law are fully qualified divorce solicitors in Belfast and can offer you all the help you need.
Decide on the Grounds for Divorce
It goes without saying you should have a good reason for ending your marriage. There are essentially five main grounds for divorce;
- Adultery – your husband or wife has had a sexual relationship with somebody else.
- Unreasonable behaviour – including physical violence, verbal abuse, drug taking, drunkenness and refusing to pay for housekeeping.
- Desertion – your husband or wife deserted you at least two years ago.
- Lived apart for two years – you have lived apart for at least two years and you both agree to the divorce.
- Lived apart for five years – you have lived apart for at least five years.
Filing For Divorce
File divorce by filling out the divorce petition form. You’ll have to include both party’s full names and address and your marriage certificate. If you have children, you’ll need to include their names and dates of birth regardless of their age.
Responding to the Divorce Petition
The response to the Divorce Petition must be within fourteen days of the husband or wife receiving the papers, which is either by first class post service or personal service through a Process Server. The responding party must set out whether or not they are defending the Divorce and whether or not they are defending also the claim for costs. When the Acknowledgement of Service Form has been completed, signed and returned either to the Solicitors for the Petitioner or the Matrimonial Office, the Divorce can be set down for Hearing. This involves filing a Certificate of Readiness and the Court will also be notified as to whether or not it needs to make better arrangements for the children of the family. A Decree Nisi is pronounced and six weeks after the date of Decree Nisi a Decree Absolute can be applied for by postal application.
The Decree Absolute is the document which formally dissolves the marriage and will not be applied for if there are financial matters which require to be resolved between the parties, either by agreement or through arbitration.
The Spouse in receipt of the Decree Absolute will also be informed that any Will that has been made during the course of the marriage is automatically revoked and any Clause allowing the other Spouse to be an executor of the Will is invalid. This is an opportunity for the Petitioner and indeed the Respondent to consider making a Last Will and Testament providing for the children of the marriage. This can be done even if the Financial matters have not been resolved as the intentions of the Spouses will be very important and been seen to reflect what they want for the children of the marriage.
Divorce can be an emotionally draining and challenging time. It’s important that you understand the implications of your situation and the consequences of any actions you may take, before you reach any decisions. Here at MKB Law we have experienced and compassionate divorce solicitors who will make sure you are properly informed and equipped for all decisions you may need to take.