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Divorce – when can I start divorce proceedings?

We can commence divorce proceedings at any time providing you have been married for over one  year and provided one or other of the couple is domiciled or habitually resident in this country.  If there is any query with regard to jurisdiction, please telephone for further advice.  If you have been married for less than one year there are other options available to you, such as a separation.  Please contact us here or telephone for further advice.

On what grounds can a Divorce Petition be started?

The only ground for divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.  To establish this ground you must rely on one of the following five facts.  These are:-

  • Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to continue living together; or
  • Your spouse has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue living together; or
  • Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of two years or more; or
  • You and your spouse have been living separately for two years or more and your spouse agrees to the divorce; or
  • You and your spouse have been living separately for five years or more.

The Divorce Process

The spouse issuing the divorce proceedings is referred to as the Petitioner.  The other spouse to whom the proceedings are issued is called the Respondent.  The Petitioner must prepare the Divorce Petition to submit to the Court with the original marriage certificate and a Court fee.  If there are children of the family, then the Petitioner must also complete a Statement of Arrangements about the children and send this to the Court with the Petition.

The Court issues a Notice of Proceedings.  A copy of this is served on the Respondent, normally by posting it to him or her with a copy of the Petition and Statement of Arrangements and a form called the Acknowledgment of Service.

The Respondent is asked to complete the Acknowledgment of Service and return it to the Court within 7 days.  The form asks the Respondent whether he or she wishes to defend the Petition, whether any claim for costs is disputed and whether the arrangements for any children are agreed.

If the Respondent intends to defend the Petition, he or she must file a defence (called an Answer) within 28 days of receipt of the Petition.  This is a strict time limit.

The Respondent (or his or her solicitor) returns the Acknowledgment of Service to the Court.  The Court then sends a copy to the Petitioner’s solicitors.  The Petitioner’s solicitors then prepare an Affidavit for the Petitioner to swear, confirming that the contents of the Petition are true.  The Petitioner swears the Affidavit before another solicitor or Court officer.

The Petitioner’s solicitor then sends the Affidavit to the Court and asks the Court to fix a date for the Decree Nisi to be granted.  The District Judge then looks through the papers and decides if the Petitioner is entitled to a divorce.  If arrangements for the children have been agreed, the District Judge is unlikely to interfere.  If an agreement has not been reached, he may ask the Petitioner and the Respondent (accompanied by their solicitors) to attend an informal appointment at Court to explore a solution to any difficulties.

The District Judge then certifies that the Petitioner is entitled to the divorce and the Court sets the date for the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi.

Once the Decree Nisi has been granted, the Petitioner may apply for the Decree Absolute after six weeks and one day has passed.  If the Petitioner does not apply for the Decree Absolute on the first available date, the Respondent can do so after a further three months have passed from the date when the Petitioner could have first applied.

Contact us or call our mobile friendly number 033 33 22 1000 or 0800 987 8156 to book an initial consultation with our Family Law Solicitor.

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