I don’t want a divorce!
Updated: Jul 14
I don’t want a divorce!
“Till Death Do Us Part” is a promise made with love, sincerity, and promise. Unfortunately, approximately 33% of marriages in the UK end in divorce. But what happens, when one partner wants to leave the marriage, but the other does not? Can the law really force someone to stay married?
Grounds for Divorce
There are five grounds your partner can use to apply for divorce.
If you or your partner has engaged in sexual relations outside the marriage, then they can use this ground to request a divorce. It is important to note, that there is a time limit for this, and they must have filed for a divorce within six months of realising the affair. This is because they must be able to show that they cannot bear to live with their partner after the indiscretions. It is also important to note, this only applies to the opposite gender. So, if you or your partner has
had an affair with someone of the same gender, then this ground does not apply.
2. Unreasonable Behaviour
Unreasonable behaviour is possibly the most common ground for divorce as it covers a lot of issues. For example, if you are refusing to make any financial contributions or are consistently drunk, then this falls under unreasonable behaviour. Similarly, if your partner has made allegations of domestic abuse, unwarranted actions or claims you make living with them uncomfortable, then a judge could grant them a divorce on this basis.
Desertion is if you have left your partner without their agreement or consent. However, if you have lived together for more than 6 months within the 30-month period then this would not qualify as a ground for divorce.
4. Living Apart for More Than 2 Years
Your partner can ask for a divorce if you have lived apart for more than 2 years. They would still be able to request a divorce on this basis as long as they have not spent more than 6 months living with you in this time frame.
5. Living Apart for More Than 5 Years
The final ground for divorce is if you have been living apart for more than 5 years. Your partner does not need your consent to ask for a divorce under this ground. As long, as they can prove they have lived separately for this time frame a judge would normally grant the divorce.
So, what do I do?
If you have received a ‘Draft Divorce Petition’ from your partner’s solicitors, then it is important to read through exactly what they are saying. If you disagree with anything that is being said about you in this document, you should write back and correct these errors.
I’ve got a letter from court! Now what?
Once a court has received a divorce petition, they would normally send you an ‘Acknowledgement of Service Form’ which is a Form N9 (CC). In this form, you should tick the box which states you intend to defend the whole claim.
You should send this back within 8 days. You will then have a further 28 days to send to the courts a statement showing your complete reasoning as to why you are defending yourself and why you do not want a divorce. After this, it is up to a judge to grant a hearing, where both you and your partner will have to attend.
In the hearing, you will most likely be asked why you are contesting the divorce. It is important to understand, that the judge will grant a divorce. However, if your partner has asked for a divorce under a certain ground and then cannot show they meet these grounds, then the judge may not grant the divorce.
This was seen in the case Ovens v Owens (2017) where the wife had applied for a divorce under the grounds of ‘unreasonable behaviour’. However, the judge ruled that she did not meet those grounds and therefore the divorce was not given. This is an extremely rare case though, as it is not in the court’s interest to keep people tethered to an unhappy marriage. In any instance, the wife can also appeal this ruling under 1 (2) (e) of The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
Is the law going to change?
Yes, the law is going to change, specifically in April 2022. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill 2020 was supposed to come into force in 2021, however it has now been delayed. This new legislation is also known as a 'No-fault Divorce', and will allow parties to divorce without the consent of the other partner. This will make it more difficult for you to object to a divorce as your partner can apply for it without assigning any blame.
The law further simplifies the divorce process by allowing an application to be made by your partner alongside a statement which can just say that your relationship has broken down 'irretrievably'. They do not have to explain any sort of blame or reasoning and this will be served on you.
Once 20 weeks have passed, they will receive what is called a conditional order. This time frame is the only time you will have to try and change your partner's mind as the next step will be the divorce final order which will be granted six weeks from the date the conditional order was made.
Therefore, the process of divorce is just about to get a whole lot simpler. This means it will be harder for you to defend a divorce if not near impossible. However, who knows? The law has been delayed once, it might just get delayed again.
Please do note that this Article is NOT Legal advice and should not be treated as legal advice.