Divorce can be a difficult and stressful time for the people involved. There are a number of practical and legal factors to consider and in this article, we are going to give you an overview of these aspects and what you need to think about before, during and after a divorce.
Grounds for a divorce
Grounds for divorce can include adultery (though this is not applicable if you lived for longer than 6 months together after you found out about it), unreasonable behaviour (such as physical and verbal abuse, addiction etc), if you’ve lived apart for 2 years and your partner agrees or more than 5 if the other partner doesn’t agree.
You then need to file a divorce petition form and pay a fee before sending three copies to your local divorce centre (remember to keep your own copy for your records). The other party then needs to respond, stating whether they agree or disagree to the proceedings.
Generally speaking before going to court it will often be recommended that you go through the mediation process first. It is important to consider whether you do want to go through a divorce and the reasons for doing so.
Often during this process, you can come to an agreement (usually referred to as a parenting plan)- this is especially important when it comes to custody of children and arranging access. You can arrange for this between yourselves or alternatively this can be discussed with a legal representative and drawn up as a formal agreement.
It should be noted you cannot usually get legal aid with divorce proceedings unless you can prove that your partner has been abusive.
If agreement can’t be reached
If an agreement can’t be reached then you can ask the court to make a judgement. They may ask you attend mediation if you haven’t done so or may ask you to do so again if they feel this is appropriate (there are exceptions such as instances of abuse).
With regard to child custody either parent or guardian can apply for an order- for example a child arrangement order will decide where your child will live and how much contact they have with each parent (both in terms of physical contact and other forms such as emails and phone calls).
Another order they may consider is what is referred to as a “specific issue” order such as the type of school they have to go (by contrast a “prohibited steps order” can prevent a parent from making a decision on this if the court feels this is not appropriate).
You do have to pay a fee to apply for a court order but it may be possible to get it at reduced costs if you are on benefits or a low income.
After you have applied for the order a judge will look at the situation and decide if your child is at risk.
At Larcomes our motto is “Big enough to specialise, small enough to care.” We realise this is a difficult time and can help you through it. For more information or to discuss your current circumstances please contact our legal specialists today.