We all look forward to the holiday period, having a few days off work and catching up with friends and family. Unfortunately for some, the holiday period can also bring with it a number of high pressure situations which can culminate in the separation of a husband and wife and ultimately divorce.
If you are facing a situation similar to this and currently weighing up your options, the first thing you should do, no matter how stressful things are, is step back and seek out some objective, professional advice. Getting divorced is one of the most stressful things you can face in life, however, you also have a several important decisions to make which could ultimately have a bearing on your future circumstances such as family life, your children, your work and even your business.
How can I apply for a divorce?
In order to issue divorce proceedings you must have been married for a period of at least two years.
What reasons can I give for the marriage breakdown?
There are five grounds under which you can file a divorce. Three are termed as ‘fault’ based, i.e. one party is at fault for the marriage ending.
2. Unreasonable behaviour
The other two grounds for divorce are termed ‘non-fault’ based:
4. Two years separation with consent
5. Five years separation.
It will depend on your own particular set of circumstances as to which grounds you will apply for divorce.
Which court should I issue in?
A divorce can be issued in either the County Court or the High Court and will usually be determined by the ‘grounds for divorce’. For example, Unreasonable Behaviour petitions are primarily heard in the High Court. The monetary value of the marriage assets can also determine which court is used. Your solicitor will help you determine which Court you should use.
What happens if my spouse contests the divorce?
The majority of divorces proceed uncontested, with only one party needing to attend court on the day of the hearing. If your spouse is not agreeable your divorce can still proceed although it will be classified as a contested divorce. It is worthwhile noting that contested divorces can be lengthy and expensive.
Who keeps the house?
This depends on whose name the house in is. If the matrimonial home is in your spouse’s sole name, it is extremely important you seek legal advice immediately. If the house is in joint names, negotiations will need to take place as to who should keep the house. All assets such as Pensions and savings as well as both parties’ income will also be relevant to reaching an overall settlement.
What about the children, who do they stay with?
When a couple separates it is obviously advantageous to try and agree contact on an amicable basis. If this is not possible one party may have to issue court proceedings and let the family court decide on access. When determining who the children should live with the court will look at several important factors such as what is in the best interests of the children.
My spouse has left the Matrimonial home and I have no money, what can I do?
If your spouse is the main earner or the ‘bread winner’ you may be entitled to spousal maintenance. In addition you may be entitled to make a claim for child maintenance.
As you can see, divorce is a complex area owing to the many different facets of modern family life. The more objective you can be during this stressful and emotional time the easier it will be for you to find a more amicable and less-costly solution for everyone involved.
If you would like to discuss your own individual circumstances with a solicitor, you can contact Una for a free initial consultation. This consultation will be completely confidential and should help to give you answers to some of the many questions you have and help you to plan your next steps.