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About the Divorce Court

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 21 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Divorce Divorce Petition Do-it-yourself

Legally you can't get divorced until you have been married for at least 1 year. It is a good idea to get legal advice especially if you have substantial assets that will need to be divided, but if you have few assets a do-it-yourself divorce is now possible as the system has been simplified and streamlined over the last few years. Typically a divorce can take up to 8 months to reach the final decree that legally dissolves the marriage.

Your first port of call is your local County Court where you can get the relevant forms and also guidance leaflets that will help you with the divorce proceedings. Locate your nearest County Court on the HMCS website: www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/HMCSCourtFinder.

Often, you can use mediation to make the arrangements for your divorce that may mean you don't actually have to attend a court hearing. Also, mediation is much cheaper than paying a solicitor to handle your divorce. You can locate your local mediation team by calling the Family Mediation Helpline on: 0845 60 26 627, or by visiting their website: www.familymediationhelpline.co.uk.

Legal Basis for Divorce

The courts will want to see that your marriage or civil partnership has broken down. They do this by apply five facts to your case. If any of these are true the divorce is granted. The five facts are:
  • Your husband or wife has committed adultery.
  • Your partner's behaviour has become intolerable and no longer constitutes what you consider to be a proper marriage. Civil partnerships use this fact instead of the one above.
  • Your partner has not lived with you for more than 2 years. This is legally defined as desertion.
  • You and your partner have not lived together for over 2 years and you both consent to the divorce.
  • You and your partner have not lived together for more than 5 years. Divorce is usually granted if this fact is true even if your partner contests the divorce in court.

The Cost of Getting Divorced

The major cost of getting a divorce will be the solicitor's fees if you decide to use one. Always try and get an estimate of what they will charge you. Extra costs or 'disbursements' such as house valuations are often added to the basic legal fee, so make sure you know the total cost before hiring a solicitor. Also, the person asking for the divorce known as the petitioner will have to pay court costs unless they can show that they can't afford to do so. In these cases the court may not make any charges.

Money, Children and Property

The court has a wide-range of powers to give you orders as a condition of your divorce. These can relate to the financial support of your spouse and children. How property will be handled and how any substantial assets will be divided can all come under a court order.

Divorce Courts in Scotland

In Scotland if you fulfil a number of set criteria you may be able to get what is called a 'simplified divorce procedure'. Divorce hearings if attendance at court is needed are usually in the local sheriff's court or the Court of Session. You can only use this method of divorce if the divorce itself is uncontested. To use this system:
  • You or your spouse must not have any children.
  • You have agreed how property and money will be divided.
  • You must have lived in Scotland for at least one year preceding the divorce.
  • You and your spouse have been living apart for 1 year.
  • You or you spouse do not have any mental health problems that stop you from make decisions about your affairs.

Help and more information can be obtained from Family Mediation Scotland by calling: 0845 119 2020 or visiting their website: www.familymediationscotland.org.uk.

Divorce Courts in Ireland

You cannot apply for a divorce until you have been married for at least 2 years. Divorce cases go before the County Court or the High Court. The petition for divorce is handed to either of these courts along with the marriage certificate and details of any arrangements regarding children. You must also show that you have ground for the divorce. These grounds include a two-year separation with each party in the marriage consenting to the divorce, or unreasonable behaviour. If the divorce is uncontested, the decree nisi is issued, followed 6 weeks later by the decree absolute that finalises the divorce.

Help and more information can be obtained from Mediation Northern Ireland by calling: 028 90 438614 or visiting their website: www.mediationnorthernireland.org.

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[Add a Comment]
my divorce was finalized on 22/12/16 in the uk.the court order stated that my ex wife would receive 60% of my pension and the family home.A clean break order was also issued.In July of this year my former pension company informed me I was entitled to a compensation payment of 50,000 pounds.I have been contacted by a solicitor in the UK saying my wife wants 60% of this as well.He says he can overturn the original court order.Is this correct, do I have to slit the payment with her.Thank you.
buster - 21-Oct-17 @ 7:34 AM
Jada - Your Question:
Husband left, family home, between 18-20 February 2016. Did not inform us. Made aware after a family visit to London, upon our return. We have a joint, family home and mortgaged in both our names.I had a previous property, solely in my name, which he has taken residency in since the above dates.Me and our two children aged, 11 and 13, want to remain in the family home. I had the previous property since, approximately, September 2000 until, approximately, January 2006 when we bought the family home.I would like to know if I will be able to obtain equity out of property as there is, approximately, 8 years mortgage left on it and 13 years on the family home?1. Do I contact the mortgage company first to find out how much equity I am entitled to or is this determined by the court?2. If the mortgage company do not grant him the deeds does this mean I cannot get the equity?3. How is the amount of equity decided?4. If the mortgage company do not accept him as a customer, does this mean I would have to think about selling the family home?My children and I do not want to return to my first home.Please advise. My head is spinning

Our Response:
In a case such as this, if you do not wish to work out the finer points of coming to a financial agreement between you and your ex, then you may wish to consider family mediation (you agree a decision with your ex) or arbitration, which is where a third party makes a decision about your finances which is final. The family arbitrator will collect evidence from your joint financial marital pot and make a decision based on the evidence. Much will be taken into consideration such as the length of your marriage, pre-marital assets, children etc and the views of both you and your ex. Arbitration is much quicker and less expensive than having the issue dealt with by a court. As you can appreciate, we cannot advise you personally on this as there are so many other issues to be taken into consideration. A joint agreement is always considered best, but these are the other options if you can't agree. If you wish to have your questions answered fully, you would have to seek professional legal advice.
CourtroomAdvice - 15-Mar-17 @ 12:42 PM
Husband left, family home, between 18-20 February 2016.Did not inform us.Made aware after a family visit to London, upon our return. We have a joint, family home and mortgaged in both our names. I had a previous property, solely in my name, which he has taken residency in since the above dates. Me and our two children aged, 11 and 13, want to remain in the family home.I had the previous property since, approximately,September 2000 until, approximately, January 2006 when we bought the family home. I would like to know if I will be able to obtain equity out of property as there is, approximately, 8 years mortgage left on it and 13 years on the family home? 1.Do I contact the mortgage company first to find out how much equity I am entitled to or is this determined by the court? 2.If the mortgage company do not grant him the deeds does this mean I cannot get the equity? 3.How is the amount of equity decided? 4.If the mortgage company do not accept him as a customer, does this mean I would have to think about selling the family home? My children and I do not want to return to my first home. Please advise.My head is spinning
Jada - 14-Mar-17 @ 4:56 PM
Hi Met guy thought was best , bought house using my savings as deposit , mortgage was joint n gained as he worked offshore, marriage lasted 10 mths he was control freak and charged with domestic abuse! He refused offer put on house and is using a solicitor to get 40% of the sale of house, he hasn't paid any mortgage payments since Jan 2015, I have now got my solicitor to send out divorce papers from court , if he doesn't reply will court grant the divorce and house to be sold? Thanks Debs
Debs - 8-May-16 @ 11:21 AM
Hi,could you confirm once solicitor has submitted all signed paperwork ( financial agreements) to the courts, how long does it take for judge to stamp agreement and absolute to be granted? Thank you
shaz - 4-May-16 @ 11:40 AM
Tom - Your Question:
Good Afternoon, My sister bought her house in 2002, my mum and I contributing 30% of the £108K purchase price. She married in 2008 but that lasted only 3 years, he moved out and divorce proceedings commenced in 2012 but the final judgement was delivered in her absence as she had an emotional break down and left the UK. He was asked by the court to inform my sister's next of kin but of course he didn't. In 2014 the house was repossessed by the bank and after all costs £112K was left as the proceeds of the house. Her ex had asked to go to court to declare that he had the sole interest in the property and was granted all the proceeds in April 2014. We however got wind and managed to stop the process and put a stop to any payments in Oct, 2014. The money was paid by the bank into the court in April 2015, but he applied for and got £50K in July 2015. My mum and I made a N224 application and are Part 20 claimants. We have a trial date this week in the resolution of this matter. Despite my sister making mortgage payments for 50% of the mortgage term, it is claimed that nothing can be paid to her simply because she did not turn up for the hearing. Her whereabouts are unknown, is it possible to have her share retained by the court. I would like to know how to protect my sisters interest in the matter and although our case for the 30% seems straight forward how can I have pegged on the value of the house (£210K) rather than the equity, which was our agreement.

Our Response:
I'm afraid you would need to seek legal advice regarding this as we can only answer non-specific, generalised questions.
CourtroomAdvice - 16-Dec-15 @ 11:41 AM
Good Afternoon, My sister bought her house in 2002, my mum and I contributing 30% of the £108K purchase price. She married in 2008 but that lasted only 3 years, he moved out and divorce proceedings commenced in 2012 but the final judgement was delivered in her absence as she had an emotional break down and left the UK. He was asked by the court to inform my sister's next of kin but of course he didn't. In 2014 the house was repossessed by the bank and after all costs £112K was left as the proceeds of the house. Her ex had asked to go to court to declare that he had the sole interest in the property and was granted all the proceeds in April 2014. We however got wind and managed to stop the process and put a stop to any payments in Oct, 2014. The money was paid by the bank into the court in April 2015, but he applied for and got £50K in July 2015. My mum and I made a N224 application and are Part 20 claimants. We have a trial date this week in the resolution of this matter. Despite my sister making mortgage payments for 50% of the mortgage term, it is claimed that nothing can be paid to her simply because she did not turn up for the hearing. Her whereabouts are unknown, is it possible to have her share retained by the court. I would like to know how to protect my sisters interest in the matter and although our case for the 30% seems straight forward how can I have pegged on the value of the house (£210K) rather than the equity, which was our agreement.
Tom - 15-Dec-15 @ 2:01 PM
Davy - Your Question:
Hi folks. I married a local girl quickly while working in NI, 26 years ago. Our relationship started to have difficulties from the start. 23 years after we married we bought a great old farm house with some barns and land. Since buying. this home I hope we would have a beautiful home for my wife and I, in reality it is a house with 2 occupants. I should also say that I have been sleeping in the spare bedroom, single bed for 23 years. My advice from my mother, 22 years ago was I had married (yearly, family visit) to continue. I suppose for 10 or 20 years I accepted this and did other things, car boot sales, gardening, and always actively involved in sport, although more gently. Over 4 years ago I meet someone, who I immediately found attractive, vivacious and interesting.We have started to date since September 2014. I had initially been worried about selling the house and that this relationship would perhaps not last on several , thus the long wait.I have occasionally spoken briefly to my wife to tell her that I have someone and that I wish us to divorce and split the house.My wife has said the 1. she will not admit to our non relationship and that 2. anyone who comes to view the house will be shown a mess and told of all the drawbacks.I am over 60 and would like to spend the rest of my life with current partner. I wish now that I had acted quicker is my partner has placed a lot on hold due to this.Have you any thoughts, suggestions on how I can manage this?Davy

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. The answer to your question depends on numerous factors but I would advise you to see a solicitor. In the UK (I'm not sure about Ireland) if you own your house jointly in a ‘trust for sale’ you may be able to force the sale of the property. This is done by applying for a court order that would in effect allow for the property to be sold, and would provide a timescale within which it should be sold. If your wife is specifying that she will try to sabotage the sale, then you should make a note of the way in which she is being un-cooperative, and in as much detail as possible, so you can present it to the courts to bring about the timescale. Of course, the best way forward would be to try and sit down and resolve the situation with your wife in the hope of an amicable split.
CourtroomAdvice - 16-Nov-15 @ 11:21 AM
Hi folks.I marrieda local girl quickly while working in NI, 26 years ago.Our relationship started to have difficulties from the start.23 years after we married we bought a great old farm house with some barns and land.Since buying. this home I hope we would have abeautiful home for my wife and I, in reality it is a house with 2 occupants. I should also say that I have been sleeping in the spare bedroom, single bed for 23 years.My advice from my mother, 22 years ago was I had married (yearly, family visit) to continue.I suppose for 10 or 20 years I accepted this and did other things, car boot sales, gardening, and always actively involved in sport, although more gently. Over 4 years ago I meet someone, who I immediately found attractive, vivacious and interesting. We have started to date since September 2014.I had initially been worried about selling the house and that this relationship would perhaps not last on several , thus the long wait.I have occasionally spoken briefly to my wife to tell her that I have someone and that I wish us to divorce and split the house. My wife has said the 1. she will not admit to our non relationship and that 2. anyone who comes to view the house will be shown a mess and told of all the drawbacks. I am over 60 and would like to spend the rest of my life with current partner.I wish now that I had acted quicker is my partner has placed a lot on hold due to this. Have you any thoughts, suggestions on how I can manage this? Davy
Davy - 15-Nov-15 @ 11:52 AM
@pickled - I am sorry to hear this. Due to the international aspect of this, then it is not something you can really do online as a quicky divorce. You will really need to seek some legal advice, but I'm afraid we cannot recommend specific international divorce lawyers - you will have to do that research yourself.
CourtroomAdvice - 7-Apr-15 @ 3:04 PM
My husband kicked me out of our home on January 1st this year. We were living in Portugal, in our marital home (bought during our marriage). Only his name was put on the documents for the house. He is Portuguese and I am English and there is no mortgage on the property. He was seeing someone else, who he has now informed me is pregnant, and he wants to move her into our home. I am currently back in the UK staying with my brother as i have no money or anywhere else to go. How easily can i obtain a divorce, and how cheaply? I have also been told that I should be entitled to a share of the property we live in in Portugal? Thank you for any advice.
pickled - 4-Apr-15 @ 2:45 PM
@Fosters - It should be very straightforward if your partner does not object. In this case you can apply for an undefended divorce. If there are no children and no complicated property matters then you may be able to complete the divorce procedure without the help of a solicitor. There is an online do-it-yourself route but you will need to make sure everything is covered. A proper legal divorce through a solicitor will make sure that there are no future repercussions. The most cost-effective divorces are one where the couples agree to the terms in advance and obtain legal help to ensure the details will be court approved. I hope this helps.
CourtroomAdvice - 6-Nov-14 @ 12:49 PM
My wife and I have not been living together for 5 plus years, and we both want a quick divorce, there is no children or assets,what would the process be and cost? Thanks for your advice
Fosters - 5-Nov-14 @ 3:15 PM
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