Noble Harbour Solicitors

Noble Harbour Solicitors

Divorce and Separation

To many people the law relating to the marital breakdown and the issues arising from this are complex and bewildering. Set out below is a brief explanation of the principles and processes involved in various aspects of the law relating to the family. This section is not intended as a substitute for legal advice which should also be taken if you find yourself facing this type of issue. The law recognises that every family is different and the answers appropriate vary accordingly. This section nevertheless provides useful general information.

A married couple whose relationship has ended and who wish to separate have a number of options. They may simply separate with no formal arrangement or structure in place to regulate how financial matters or arrangements for the children are dealt with. Many believe such a position is inappropriate and require a formal arrangement to be recorded so as to provide some certainty on how matters are to be dealt with.

There are three main ways of achieving this


There is only one ground to obtain a divorce and that is that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

You must point to one or more of five facts to demonstrate the break down of your marriage. These are the other party's adultery; the other party's unreasonable behaviour; where you and your spouse have lived apart and separate for a period of two years or more and your spouse consents to the grant of a divorce; where your spouse has deserted you for a period of two years or more; where you and your spouse have lived separate and apart for a period of five years or more.

The person who initiates the divorce is known as the petitioner. The other party is known as the respondent. To commence divorce proceedings the petitioner files with the court the divorce petition together with any other relevant documents and court fee. Other documents include a Statement of Arrangements for Children form. This document sets out important information with regard to your children's education, health and care arrangements. If you are on a low income you may apply to court for an exemption of the court fee. In this case you will file this form at the same time as your petition.

The court will issue the petition and send to your spouse a sealed copy of the divorce petition and any supporting papers. It will also send an acknowledgement of service form. This must be completed by your spouse and returned to the court within fourteen days of receipt of the papers. Provided your spouse confirms in this document that he/she does not defend the petition the documents will be placed before the District Judge for approval. Provided the District Judge is satisfied with the documentation, a Decree Nisi he will set a date for pronouncement of Decree Nisi. Six weeks and one day from this you can apply for pronouncement of Decree Absolute. This is the decree that formally dissolves your marriage. It is important financial issues are progressed during this time and prior to pronouncement of Decree Absolute. Please Ancillary Relief section on this.

Judicial Separation

The procedure for a Decree of Judicial Separation is very similar to that followed for a divorce. However, at the end of the procedure the couple will obtain a Decree of Judicial Separation which does not end the marriage. The couple are recognised as formally separated. Within the Judicial Separation procedure the Court is able to deal with financial issues and other issues as are relevant.

Deed of Separation

This is a document which amounts to a contract between the parties separating within which you set out the terms agreed between you and your spouse/partner. You agree to live separate and apart from each other and agree not to interfere with the other. It is usual for the terms of any agreement on financial issues to be set out in the document. Also care arrangements for any children may also be included.

A deed of Separation may be appropriate where couples are not completely sure that they wish to issue divorce proceedings and so end the marriage. The document is evidence of the agreement reached at the time of the separation and reference can be made to this should divorce proceedings be issued in the future.

For further information contact [email protected].

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