Q. I separated from my wife last month. I have read online that we should wait two years to get divorced as it will make things easier for us. Is this right?
A. Despite there being a great deal in the media these days about ‘no fault divorce’, this is unfortunately not as yet legislated for. All divorces are therefore still based upon the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage which must be proved by one of five different facts known as grounds.
The five grounds are: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation by consent or five years’ separation without consent. So even if it appears to be a ‘no fault’ situation, to start divorce proceedings the petitioner must send a Petition to the Family Court, setting out one of these five grounds.
Although waiting for 2 years may feel like it will help diffuse a situation and reduce animosity, the delay in sorting things out can cause knock on effects such as financial, legal or psychological problems, though a good divorce lawyer will always try to conduct the proceedings in the least confrontational way possible.
Alongside a decree for divorce, a financial order is usually lodged with the Court, setting out what should happen to each party’s assets, income, debts and pensions. Without a financial clean break order each party is still entitled to a share of their spouse’s assets, even if they were acquired in the 2 years after separation. So getting the finances sorted out first can be crucial.
Each case is of course different, but it is often in everybody’s interests to begin proceedings without delay if you are satisfied the marriage has broken down. You should make an appointment with a family lawyer to discuss the options available to you and the possible implications a two year delay may have on you personally.