Preparing For Divorce Or Separation in Northern Ireland

Preparing For Divorce Or Separation in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, when a marriage or partnership breaks down, both people may wish to dissolve the bond legally. A married person can petition for a divorce while a civil partner applies for a dissolution. You cannot apply for divorce or dissolution for the first two years of your marriage or civil partnership.

McPartland & Sons have put together a quick guide on the steps to take in preparation for divorce or separation applicable in Northern Ireland.

Gather The Relevant Paperwork You Need

To begin the process of divorce or dissolution you will need to lodge the following paperwork in the Matrimonial Court office.

  • Petition
  • Marriage/civil partnership certificate
  • An acknowledgement of service form
  • Any birth certificate(s) for children under 18
  • Any Agreements you wish to be made a rule of court
  • Any previous court orders about your marriage/civil partnership
  • Court fee

Grounds for a Divorce Petition

A divorce petition must be evidenced by one of the reasons below:

  • 2 years separation with the consent of the other spouse to divorce
  • 5 years of separation
  • unreasonable behaviour
  • adultery
  • desertion

Dissolution of a civil partnership must be due to one of the reasons below:

  • 2 years separation with the consent of the other partner to dissolve the partnership
  • 5 years of separation
  • unreasonable behaviour
  • desertion

Service of the Divorce Petition On Your Spouse

After the papers have been processed, the Court will send a certified copy that can be served on the respondent. He/she will then have 14 days to return the form to the Matrimonial Office.

The Court Hearing

Once the Court fee is paid, the case can be set down for hearing. The outcome of the hearing depends on whether the respondent consents to the Divorce. If he/she does not defend the petition and consents to the Petition going ahead, you will be asked to either take a religious oath or make an affirmation (promise) and verify the information contained within your petition.

If the court is satisfied with the evidence and with arrangements made for the children of the marriage, it may grant a Decree Nisi.   If the Respondent does not consent and decides to defend the petition, you may then be asked to give evidence and be cross-examined by the respondent’s legal representative.

Obtaining Your Decree Absolute

The party who was granted the Decree Nisi can apply for a Decree Absolute after at least six weeks and one day has passed since the Divorce was heard. The application should be made to the Court where the case was heard.

The marriage or civil partnership formally ends when:

  • the decree absolute is granted and forwarded to both parties.
  • the conditional order is made final for a civil partnership.

The Decree Absolute must be kept safe as you will need it in the future to produce to various authorities to prove your divorce was finalised.

If you require further information and advice, please call our office in Lurgan on 02838 322452 or Lisburn on 02892 670325, to speak to one of our Divorce Solicitors.

Related Blogs:

What happens to a house after divorce or separation

Pensions Entitlement in Northern Ireland After Marriage Breakdown

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