Divorce and Civil Partnership Dissolution
Assuming a couple has been married for a year then they are entitled to obtain a divorce or civil partnership dissolution
To begin the divorce or civil partnership dissolution process it is no longer necessary to find ‘fault’ – you can simply confirm to the court that your marriage or civil partnership has broken down irretrievably.
The application for divorce can be made either as a sole application or a joint application.
We endeavour where possible to work with our clients to help them agree with their spouse who will initiate the process. Having done so, the divorce/dissolution then usually becomes an administrative exercise with paperwork passing between the lawyers and the court until the couple are divorced.
The divorce/dissolution itself (as opposed to dealing with financial matters or issues involving children) is usually the simplest part of the process. However, if a couple or case has an international dimension this can impact on whether England is the best place for our client to be divorced.
In some cases the couple can have a range of options/countries where the divorce/dissolution process can be started. We have experience of a number of such cases and securing England as the jurisdiction if best for our client. We also use a network of expert family lawyers across the world to ensure a client is fully informed as to which is the best option for them – here or another country.
Although the most common route for legally ending a marriage is to choose divorce/dissolution, it is possible in some cases for a marriage to be annulled. A marriage can be annulled if it is either void (put simply, the marriage should not have taken place in the first place for certain reasons such as being too closely related or underage) or voidable (the marriage should be “cancelled” for certain reasons such as a lack of consummation).
If having spoken to a client we think nullity may be an option we will discuss it with them and the advantages and disadvantages of an annulment as opposed to a divorce.
For couples, divorce is not the only option. For some, a judicial separation may be more appropriate. Most used in cases where the couple do not want to divorce for religious or cultural reasons, it can still be used to formalise a separation. It can also be used in cases where a couple may wish for a formal separation but do not wish to lose a valuable financial benefit such as a widow’s pension. The disadvantage is that the process can be just as time consuming and expensive as the divorce process but without the financial certainty that a divorce provides.
A number of our team have dealt with and brought about judicial separations and are able to properly consider with clients whether this or an alternative is the best course of action.
Civil partnership dissolution
In March 2014 same sex couples were granted the entitlement to marry. Prior to that, and since the end of 2005, same sex couples achieved very similar rights, entitlements and obligations to married couples by entering into a civil partnership.
To bring a civil partnership to an end it must be ‘dissolved’. The dissolution of a civil partnership follows the same procedure as a divorce. The process is straightforward and you are required to confirm to the court that the civil partnership has irretrievably broken down.
A dissolution gives civil partners the same financial entitlements as they would have if going through divorce proceedings.
It is also possible now to convert a civil partnership into a marriage by signing a “conversion into marriage” declaration.
The lawyers at Hall Brown have regularly assisted civil partners dissolve their partnerships and address the various financial claims that arise as a result.