Civil Partnership Legal Advice

You should be reassured that in the vast majority of cases, the divorce or civil partnership dissolution procedure is a straightforward one which does not necessarily necessitate attendance at Court. At its best it is entirely paper based.

As a matter of course our Family Lawyers are alert to the fact that with an ever increasing globalised society, either party may be entitled to bring proceedings outside of England and Wales. These proceedings in turn could be more or less advantageous to you. Proceedings in other jurisdictions vary greatly from country to country in respect of procedure, time, financial outcome and the consequences for any children of the family. Whilst we cannot advise you in relation to matters of law outside of England and Wales, given our experience we can ensure that we can put you into contact with someone who can. From this we can then decide the most appropriate forum for the proceedings (sometimes referred to as ‘forum shopping’).

Some important facts you need to be aware of:

  • You cannot divorce in the first year of your marriage. This is known as the absolute bar to divorce in the first year. Notwithstanding this, please be aware, our Family Lawyers can help you to prepare for when you are in a position to divorce and take other steps to provide you with financial security.
  • On a divorce the Court will not make any orders in respect of the children (i.e. with whom they shall live or spend time with) unless you ask the Court to do so by filing a separate application.
  • There is one ground for divorce or civil partnership dissolution that is that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. Irretrievable breakdown is demonstrated by evidencing one of five facts namely:
    • Your spouse has committed adultery with a person of the opposite sex and you find it intolerable to live with them;
    • Your spouse has behaved unreasonably and you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them;
    • Your spouse consents to a divorce being granted and you have been separated for a period of at least 2 years;
    • Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of at least 2 years; or
    • You have been separated from your spouse for a period of at least 5 years.
  • You need to be aware that there are some factors that restrict your ability to rely on facts evidencing the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage in particular adultery and unreasonable behaviour. You should seek legal advice from one of our Family Lawyers in this regard.
  • You need to be aware that if you choose to petition on some facts as opposed to others, you do not necessarily require your spouse’s cooperation. All you require is for them not to actively defend the same. Please speak with one of our Family Lawyers to discuss such advantages and disadvantages.
  • In some cases you may be able to seek an order within proceedings known as a ‘Costs Order’, that is an Order that your spouse pay your legal costs for the divorce or civil partnership dissolution particularly where there has been a behaviour that can be considered blameworthy. Whilst you will be responsible for our fees in the first instance please feel free to discuss this with one of our Family Lawyers if you would like to consider doing this.
  • It is considered best practice to provide your spouse with advance notice of your intention to seek a divorce or civil partnership dissolution. If you do not this can have consequences in the event you seek a Costs Order. Please be aware there can be good reasons for not providing your spouse with advance notice of your intention to issue proceedings.
  • You cannot rely upon your own adultery or unreasonable behaviour as a reason for the divorce.
  • Only on rare occasions will the basis of a petition or civil partnership dissolution have any bearing on the finances.
  • In most cases you will require your original marriage or civil partnership certificate to commence proceedings. Whilst proceedings can be issued without them this often adds to your costs and delay. The Court will want to know the reason why you cannot produce the certificate and confirm what steps, if any, you have taken to obtain the same.
  • Nullity and Judicial Separation proceedings are increasingly uncommon throughout the Courts of England and Wales. You require specialist legal advice from one of our Family Lawyers if you are intending to issue proceedings on this basis.
  • Marriages that have taken place outside of England and Wales are generally recognised as valid marriages providing they accord with the customs of the country in which they took place.
  • Religious marriages that take place in England and Wales and do not accord with the requirements for a valid marriage are not recognised. At best you will be considered a cohabitant. English and Welsh Law however recognises the importance to many of religious divorces. There are specific provisions within our law designed to make spouses cooperate with procuring a religious divorce. Please speak to one of our Family Lawyers in this regard should you have any questions.
  • Not all oversees divorces are recognised as valid divorces for the purposes of English and Welsh Law. If you have any doubt as to the recognition of an oversees divorce as a matter of English and Welsh Law you should seek the advice of one of our Family Lawyers in this regard.
  • The process for a divorce or civil partnership dissolution usually comprises of 4 stages namely:
    • Issuing the proceedings;
    • Returning the Acknowledgment of Service;
    • Applying for the Decree Nisi or Conditional Order; and
    • Applying for the Decree Absolute or Final Order.
  • Ordinarily you will be advised to refrain from applying for the Decree Absolute or Final Order until the financial aspects of your separation are resolved this is because there may be a risk of financial prejudice to you. Please speak to one of our Family Lawyers about how this may affect you.
  • As part of the divorce or civil partnership dissolution you may require advice in other areas of law take for example, property, wills and company. At Ison Harrison we offer a breadth of legal services that we are confident will assist you with your case.

Legally Speaking Podcast

Our Head of Private Family Law, Sarah Laughey, discusses the key things you need to know about divorce and finances, with help and advice for where to start.

Listen to our Legally Speaking podcast on Divorce and Finances here: