Traditionally the UK experiences an increase in divorce proceedings being issued in early January as people seek out a new start in life or spend time reflecting on a failing relationship.
While many may assume it is as simple as filing a document to seek a divorce, in England and Wales separating couples must satisfy the courts that they are divorcing for one of five reasons.
To highlight these grounds for divorce one of York’s leading family lawyers, Sarah Hubery at Hethertons Solicitors, is taking to social media and the press to keep local family’s informed.
She said: “Unfortunately, we do tend to see a sudden rise in cases of divorce and separation shortly after Christmas and into early January.
“This is often a time of reflection for people and also a period where many couples are forced to spend more time with one another, which can lead to rifts forming in an already troubled relationship.
“Divorce is often the last thing we would welcome but it is the reality for a large number of families in the UK every year and so we want couples to understand what applying for a divorce involves.”
Sarah explained that the most common ground applied for in divorce was unreasonable behaviour, as it often allows proceedings to be commenced immediately.
“Family lawyers across the UK continue to campaign for no-fault divorce, however, the current system’s only option for a quicker divorce is unreasonable behaviour, which immediately places blame on one party.”
Examples of unreasonable behaviour could include domestic abuse, coercive behaviour, social isolation, alcohol or drug issues or financial recklessness, but small issues such as excessive DIY or working long hours have been used in the past.
Of concern to most couples though is adultery. Under the current law this fact is not available if the adultery has been committed within a same-sex relationship similarly as adultery is not a fact of dissolution in civil partnerships.
Where matters are not as clear-cut couples have three more options to them. One of the hardest to prove can be desertion.
In order to prove this, another person must intentionally desert their partner and it must be proved that their spouse has deserted them for a continuous period of at least two years.
Couples can also rely on separation with consent, where they have been separated for at least two years and the other party agrees to the divorce or five years separation without consent.
Sarah explained: “Far too often we hear of cases where people hope for a quick, simple or blame-free divorce only to face barriers that effectively place their future plans on hold.
“Those who have separated or are considering separation should think about what grounds they would rely on, as it could affect their life in the short-term and their expectations in regards to gaining a financial settlement or maintenance from a spouse.”
To help couples better understand the various grounds and to highlight the difficulties of divorce in England and Wales, Sarah and her team have produced a helpful infographic which they hope will help divorcing couples to differentiate between the options available to them.
“At Hethertons, we like to think of ourselves as a new shape of lawyer, which focuses on the needs of clients in the modern world, while still working within the realms of the historic rules and laws that govern England’s legal framework,” added Sarah.
To find out more about Hethertons Solicitors family law services, please visit https://www.hethertons.co.uk/