Getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership can be a difficult and stressful time. A divorce or family law solicitor will support you through the whole process, making it as simple and stress-free as possible by:
- listening to you and discussing your options with you
- telling you where you stand and what your rights are
- helping you understand your ex-partner’s rights
- giving you trusted advice about your family, home, and financial security
What are the conditions for obtaining a divorce?
In Northern Ireland the law relating to divorce is set out in the Matrimonial Causes Order 1978, otherwise referred to as “the 1978 Order”.
A husband or wife can obtain a divorce by presenting a written application (called a petition) to the court.
Petitioner – The person applying for the divorce.
Respondent – The other party involved.
The petitioner must prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and provide evidence for the grounds of divorce. A divorce petition cannot be presented within the first two years of the marriage. However, evidence from those two years can be used as proof that the marriage has dissolved.
What are the legal consequences of a divorce as regards:
The personal relations between the spouses (e.g. the surname)
There are no set rules regulating post-divorce relations. However, the parties will no longer be expected to live together and, the wife is then free to revert to her maiden name if she so chooses.
The division of property of the spouses
The 1978 Order contains provisions that allow the court to handle the parties’ property and regulate their financial arrangements, both concerning each other and/or the children involved.
The court may, on granting a decree of divorce, or afterward, make the following:
- a periodical payments order.
- a lump sum order.
- a property adjustment order.
- a pension sharing order or an order earmarking pension funds.
Before making an order, the court will have regard to all the circumstances of the case. However, its first consideration will be the welfare of any child, if under 18 years of age.
The minor children of the spouses
Following a divorce, both parents will have parental responsibility for the children of the marriage and will have a continuing duty to maintain minor children within the family.
If there is a minor child (under 16) or a child over 16 who is in continuing education or undergoing training for a trade, profession or vocation, the petitioner must complete a form (Form M4) setting out the arrangements for that child. This form encourages each party to try and reach an agreement on the proposals for the child’s future. If an agreement cannot be reached, the respondent will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed arrangements and the court may exercise its powers under the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, to direct where the child should live, for example.
The obligation to pay maintenance to the other spouse
The duty to maintain the other spouse will cease on divorce, except to the extent that the court has made an order for payment or division of property.
H McPartland & Sons are experienced divorce solicitors ready to help you through the divorce process. If you would like to receive advice related to divorce in Northern Ireland, please contact H McPartland & Sons today.