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JEFFREY MILLS SOLICITORS

- Changes To Divorce Proceedings

September - November 2017

On 17th July 2017, it was (quietly) announced that the Family Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2017 would come into force on 7th August. This will bring in some changes to the current divorce petition and
proceedings.


The look and style of the divorce petition will change, and although the new rules come into force on 7th August, there will be a transitional period where either the new or old petition can be used, before the new style petition becomes mandatory on 4th September. It is felt this new style petition is a pre-curser to online divorces, currently being piloted.


At the moment there is no requirement for a divorce petition to contain a statement of truth.

This changes in the new petition. The grounds for divorce have not changed – there is still only one ground, and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. One of five possible facts then has to be relied upon in order to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.


These are: 

Unreasonable Behaviour
Unreasonable Behaviour applies when your husband or wife, the other party, (known legally as “the Respondent”) behaved so badly that you can no longer bear to live with them. This could include
physical violence, verbal and/or mental abuse, excessive use of alcohol and/or substance and refusing to pay for housekeeping.


Unreasonable behaviour is subjective and is behaviour that you personally find intolerable but may not be necessarily what other people would consider as unreasonable. All allegations of unreasonable behaviour need to be true and must be specific to having directly contributed to the marriage breaking down.

Adultery
Adultery is applicable when your partner (either husband or wife) has had a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex, and therefore you now find it intolerable to live with them.


If the sexual relationship is with a member of the same sex or if the relationship is platonic, that is not adultery. This applies to same sex marriages and Civil Partnerships. In cases such as these the appropriate fact would be Unreasonable Behaviour.


Adultery as a reason for divorce must be used within six months of becoming aware of the sexual relationship. This is not the same as within six months of the relationship taking place.


Your husband or wife will need to admit that the adultery took place.


2 Years Separation with Consent
You can get a divorce if you have been separated for more than 2 years. Your husband or wife will writing in order to use this as a fact.


5 Years Separation
If you and your husband or wife have lived apart for more than 5 years then this is considered to be a long enough period of time to get a divorce, even if your husband or wife disagrees with the decision.


Desertion
Desertion would apply if your husband or wife has left you in one of the following circumstances. You are left without a current divorce agreement and/or without a good reason for them leaving.


Furthermore, your husband or wife has left you with the intention of ending the relationship and/or
has left you for more than 2 years in the past 2.5 years. Desertion can still be claimed even if you
have lived together for up to a total of 6 months during this period.


The new divorce petition form has a commendably small box for the statement of unreasonable behaviour. It is hoped that this will discourage unnecessarily extensive allegations. It still
surprises many people that, unless you want to wait for 2 years separation to have passed before
issuing proceedings, you have to assign blame on the petition. 

 

In a recent survey carried out by Resolution of family justice professionals, over 90% said that divorce law needs modernising to allow for a no fault divorce.
 

Approximately 60% of all petitions issued cite adultery or unreasonable behaviour. This is not necessarily because one party wants to blame the other, but because the family want a financial order to be made
in order to achieve financial certainty and they do not want to, or cannot afford to put their lives on hold in order to wait for the 2 years separation.


Unfortunately, the government do not look likely to introduce a no fault divorce anytime soon, however organisations such as Resolution will continue to lobby for one. In the meantime, we simply have to work within the system that we have. As a member of Resolution, I am committed to resolving disputes
and dealing with divorces in a conciliatory manner, in order to keep things as amicable as possible.

 

If you require representation, or advice regarding a potential divorce, please contact me.

Further Details:
Should you require legal assistance from a firm with family values and a fresh approach, contact Jeffrey Mills Solicitors. 

 

Website:
www.jeffreymillssolicitors.co.uk

 

Email:
enquiries@jeffreymills.co.uk

 

Tel: 01480 219600

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JMS Team

Hannah Byatt, Linda Eaton and Tony Larkins