A year of lockdown has seen a rise in separation and divorce and with many people on furlough or out of work they have decided to opt for a “DIY divorce”.
The court service website helpfully provides copies of the necessary forms and gives some guidance notes, but there are potential pitfalls which can lead to unnecessary disharmony and only serves to widen the gap between the couple.
For a divorce to be granted the petitioner must satisfy the court that one or more of the 5 statutory grounds has been satisfied. Those grounds are:
- Unreasonable behaviour.
- Separation of in excess of 2 years and the other party consents.
- Separation of in excess of 5 years and the other party’s consent is not required.
It is not as straightforward as one may think to satisfy the above grounds. For example, adultery must be admitted or proven, and unreasonable behaviour needs to be properly drafted.
An interesting Judgment on this topic can be found in the 2018 case of Tini Owens v Hugh Owens. Tini Owens, 68, said she was “locked into” her 40-year marriage to millionaire mushroom farmer Hugh Owens, 80, despite their relationship breaking down several years previous when she had an affair.
She moved out of the family home three years before going to court and said she had no intention of returning to her husband, but he steadfastly refused to agree that their union could end.
Her petition for divorce was rejected by both the High Court and Court of Appeal and when the Supreme Court heard the case it upheld the view that Mrs Owens did not have proper grounds for ending the marriage. If the petition had been drafted differently, however, she may have been granted her divorce at an earlier stage.
Divorce is the termination of marriage. Ancillary to the divorce is the division of the matrimonial assets. A common misconception some have is that divorce will take into account the division of the couple’s assets. This is not the case and there are very specific steps which need to be taken to reach a full and final financial settlement.
Therefore, before embarking on a DIY divorce contact McCartan Turkington Breen Solicitors for specialist legal advice. Afterall, you probably did not perform a DIY wedding!