Legal requirements for divorce

The current system in England and Wales makes the whole process of divorce an adversarial one, meaning that either the husband or wife must accept responsibility for the break-up of the marriage.  This can cause hostility and resentment between both parties. Add to this the emotional turmoil and upset then it is no wonder so many working days are lost at work with people suffering with anxiety, depression, and other stress related disorders. The divorce process can put people on an emotional rollercoaster for months and even years when there is often no quick fix.

Even those who do end up at court to resolve custody and financial issues often state that the whole process has left then just as bitter after settlement as they were before court.

Before applying for a divorce, the law states you must have been married for at least a year and the relationship must have permanently broken down. The marriage must also be legally recognised in the UK, and you must have a permanent home in England or Wales.

The laws in Scotland differ in some areas as with other countries in Europe. It is not within the scope of this course to provide legal information other than to highlight the basic requirements for divorce. The legal requirements required highlight the fact couples must give serious consideration before starting the divorce process and the process can vary in length depending on the couples themselves and what compromises they can reach. 

Under current legislation in England and Wales there are 3 stages to obtaining a divorce. 

1. Apply to the court for permission to divorce and show reasons why the relationship has permanently broken down.  This is known as filing for divorce.

2. Apply for a Decree Nisi. If undefended this procedure can be completed without either party attending court but if either party wants to defend the divorce, then a court appearance may be necessary for a judge to decide whether or not to issue the Decree Nisi.

3. Apply for a Decree Absolute. This is the final stage of the process and once the Decree Nisi is issued parties must wait 6 weeks before the absolute can be issued. This period allows for couples to change their minds if they wish to do so.