DIVORCE LAW IN ENGLAND
Divorce in England & Wales is currently granted on the basis of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Please note that ‘irreconcilable differences’ is not one of the reasons for divorce. There is no ground for divorce known as irreconcilable differences. There used to be five grounds for divorce which could be relied upon as evidence of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage but those grounds are now no longer necessary. All that is now required is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
It is important to understand that the reason for the divorce has, in the overwhelming majority of cases, no impact whatever on the other two issues which may need to be resolved – the questions of financial provision and/or any disputes affecting residence or contact with the children. These two latter issues are quite separate and dealt with completely independently of the divorce and using quite different criteria.
It is rarely possible to defend a divorce for two main reasons. Firstly, the fact that one party to the marriage has presented a divorce petition is a clear indicator of a serious breakdown in the relationship. Secondly, Legal Aid is hardly ever available to defend a divorce mainly for the reason given above.
There are, however, other issues which very often depend upon divorce and most people contemplating issuing a divorce petition or who have received one should very likely take legal advice so that they fully understand the position and the issues involved. The one which causes the greatest number of disputes is almost certainly the one of resolving the financial issues arising from the marriage – what is to happen to the former matrimonial home, whether and how any pensions should be shared etc. There are also specific issues about divorce of concern to men in particular to which some attention needs to be paid if the husband is not to come out of the process feeling aggrieved and regarding himself as the victim of injustice. And, of course, most people want to know that the costs of a divorce and the time scale are. This latter point can be especially important if one of the parties wishes to remarry. Finally, there is the remote possibility that a decree of judicial separation might be more appropriate than a divorce but one should reflect very carefully indeed if one is ever presented with this latter option. Frequently it is suggested but it is rarely appropriate.